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Table of contents What's This?
  • Biographical note
  • Historical note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information

  • Contributing Institution: USC Libraries Special Collections
    Title: Hamlin Garland papers
    Creator: Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940
    Identifier/Call Number: 0200
    Physical Description: 78 Linear Feet 143 boxes
    Date (inclusive): 1850-2018
    Date (bulk): 1890-1940
    Abstract: The Hamlin Garland papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, photographs, and memorabilia, by and about the American realist writer. Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who once held the title of "Dean of American Letters" and counted many of the prominent literary figures of his time as friends. This collection holds close to 10,000 of Garland's letters, which are now digitized and available via the USC Digital Library. Garland's literary notebooks and manuscripts--with the author's revisions--are also included, documenting the early working stages of Garland's autobiographies and memoirs, fiction, plays, poetry, published articles, and lectures. The Garland papers also contain the typescripts, notebooks, interview transcripts, correspondence, and research material created by Garland for his biography of Ulysses S. Grant published in 1898. Lastly, the collection holds hundreds of the Garland family's photographs and memorabilia dating as early as the 1850s.
    Language of Material: English .

    Biographical note

    Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) is best remembered by the title he gave to one of his autobiographies: as a "Son of the Middle Border." First receiving notice with a successful collection of grimly naturalistic "down home" stories in "Main-Travelled Roads" (1891), Garland came to prominence just as the "frontier" mentality was receding in the wake of the settling of California and the West. Garland, with roots in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, frequently wrote about how this area had also been borderland in his lifetime. In later years, Garland wrote extensively about American Indian affairs, land conservation, art, and literary trends; he also expanded his geographic range to include romances of the Far West, yet it was the reminiscences of his early years which stamped him in the public mind, and to which he turned repeatedly for inspiration.
    Garland was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1918, and won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his work, "A Daughter of the Middle Border". Following this honor, Garland acceded to the unofficial title of "Dean of American Letters." In 1929, Garland moved to Southern California, where he built a house on DeMille Drive in Hollywood. He lectured at USC in the mid-1930s; and his personal library along with some 8000 letters from fellow writers, publishers, and admirers came to USC after Garland's death, forming the cornerstone of the American Literature Collection.

    Historical note

    By the terms of his bequest, a large part of Hamlin Garland's library came to the University of Southern California in 1939-1940. The author died in March of 1940, and in November the University Library announced the acquisition by purchase of Garland's personal papers and correspondence. Although he had drawn quite close to USC during his final decade, receiving an honorary doctorate from the University in 1935, Garland long held out the idea of placing his papers with an institution in the East or Mid-West, geographically closer to the parts of the country he most closely identified with. He left final disposition of the archive to Mrs. Garland, however, who saw the merit of adding her husband's papers to the USC library's growing American Literature collection.
    In the years immediately following 1940, much of the material that Garland had loaned for exhibition was retrieved by USC. His first scholarly biographer, Eldon C. Hill at the University of Miami (Ohio), also returned letters, books, and manuscripts, which Garland had placed at his disposal during the writing of Hill's dissertation. The Garland collection moved out of cartons and file cabinets after 1950, when Professor Bruce E. McElderry (English) assumed the task of describing and analyzing the entire archive. Concurrently, Lloyd Arvidson of the library staff, with particular responsibility for the American Literature holdings, was preparing his Bibliography of the Published Writings of Hamlin Garland; and it became his next goal to draw up the detailed checklist of the Garland collection, which the library published as a paper-bound octavo booklet in 1962.
    Through the offices of Mark Rocha (Humboldt State University), an addendum to the Garland collection was acquired in 1988, consisting for the most part of family memorabilia (photographs, scrapbooks, and personal correspondence) belonging to Garland's wife, Zulime Taft Garland, and his daughters, Mary Isabel Garland Lord and Constance Garland Doyle. Donald Pizer of Tulane University also contributed supplementary material to the collection.

    Scope and Content

    The Hamlin Garland papers consist of nearly eight hundred manuscripts of Garland's writings, dozens of his literary notebooks, many hundreds of photographs and other memorabilia, and parts of Garland's personal library (cataloged separately from his papers). It also contains close to 10,000 letters, largely unpublished, including many letters from such correspondents as James M. Barrie, Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, and A. A. Milne of England, and from Americans such as Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Atherton, and Willa Cather. Lastly, this collection holds Garland family memorabilia belonging to Garland's wife, Zulime Taft Garland and his daughters, Mary Isabel Garland Lord and Constance Garland Doyle, along with supplementary material added to the collection by USC librarians and researchers through their processing and use of the Hamlin Garland papers.
    Collection highlights include sheets of then-fashionable spirit-writing; transcripts of séances in which Garland participated; a handwritten translation of Salvatore Farina's play "Il Signor Io" made by Garland's close friend, Henry Blake Fuller; and a 100-page fragmentary dramatization of William Dean Howells' novel, "A Hazard of New Fortunes"--later published by New York University Press in "The Complete Plays of W. D. Howells".
    Artifacts in the collection trace the story of Garland's life, starting with the well-worn slate he carried to school as a small boy in Wisconsin and Iowa in the 1870s, pictures and autographs of schoolmates, and the 1881 graduation program of the Cedar Valley Seminary of Osage, Iowa (where Garland debated the question, "Should the Negro exodus be encouraged?"). Other items include the ledger-type notebooks in which Garland transcribed passages from Thomas Paine, notes from his time of intensive study in the Boston Public Library, and clippings of his first writings and announcements of lectures accompanied by the manuscripts of the lectures themselves.
    Programs and announcements in the collection document Garland's leading role in founding an independent, naturalistic theater in 1891-1892 with James A. Herne, while further notebooks record his interviews with Civil War veterans during the preparations of his biography, "Ulysses S. Grant: His Life and Character". Itineraries and speech outlines tell of his campaign on behalf of Henry George and the Single Tax movement. Book contracts and manuscripts indicate Garland's rise as a leading author in American literature.
    The Hamlin Garland papers also hold the manuscript of Garland's last, unpublished memoir documenting his California years, "The Fortunate Exiles", and a copy of the 1940 Venice High School yearbook, "Argonaut", with its posthumous tribute to Garland, who had died that spring.
    [Adapted from notes by Lloyd Arvidson, from "Library Staff Bulletin" (March 15, 1960)].
    Thanks to generous support from the National Historical Publications & Records Commission, the USC Libraries digitized Garland's collection of correspondence for online public access. Digital surrogates of all of Garland's letters can be found via the USC Digital Library.


    The Hamlin Garland papers are organized into 13 series; each series corresponds generally to a format or a broad subject area. Within each series, items are generally arranged alphabetically by title or subject (when appropriate). Occasionally, as for the Garland notebooks, a chronological arrangement is used. This arrangement was created for the original checklist of the collection and has been maintained during subsequent processing efforts.


    Advance notice required for access.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical materials and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    [Box/folder no. or item name], Hamlin Garland papers, Collection no. 0200, Special Collections, USC Libraries, University of Southern California

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    The collection was received initially from Mrs. Hamlin Garland; subsequent materials were purchased from Mrs. Garland shortly after the donation. Additional materials were purchased in 1988 and donated in 2016..

    Processing Information

    This finding aid is largely based on the "checklist" -- or collection inventory -- originally completed for "Hamlin Garland: Centennial Tributes and a Checklist of the Hamlin Garland Papers" by Lloyd A. Arvidson -- published as an issue of "The Library Bulletin" no. 9 (1962). Arvidson's checklist describes Garland's papers on an item level with a unique number associated with each item. These item numbers are referenced as "Hamlin Garland checklist no. [#]" within this updated finding aid.
    In 1999, the USC Libraries produced an electronic version of the checklist, and in 2012, the electronic version was modified to produce a finding aid. In 2017-2018, Special Collections archivist Bo Doub re-processed the Hamlin Garland papers, updating the finding aid with any changes and accruals to the original collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Authors, American -- Archival resources
    Frontier and pioneer life -- American Midwest -- Archival resources
    Indians of North America -- Archival resources
    Naturalism in literature -- Archival resources
    Realism in literature -- Archival resources
    Spiritualism -- Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Archival resources
    clippings files
    Journals (accounts)
    Garland, Hamlin -- Archives
    Garland family -- Archives
    Atherton, Gertrude Franklin Horn, 1857-1948 -- Correspondence
    Barrie, James -- Correspondence
    Cather, Willa, 1873-1947 -- Correspondence
    Conrad, Joseph, 1857-1924 -- Correspondence
    Crane, Stephen, 1871-1900 -- Correspondence
    Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885 -- Archives
    Hardy, Thomas, 1840-1928 -- Correspondence
    Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920 -- Correspondence
    Milne, A.A. -- Correspondence
    Whitman, Walt -- Correspondence