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Guide to the Frank Norris Collection of Papers and Related Materials, [ca. 1889-1930]
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Scope and Content
  • Biography

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Frank Norris Collection of Papers and Related Materials,
    Date (inclusive): [ca. 1889-1930]
    Collection Number: BANC MSS C-H 80
    Creator: Norris, Frank, 1870-1902
    Extent: Number of containers: 6 boxes, 2 portfolios, 1 volume and 1 oversize folder
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Frank Norris collection of papers and related materials, BANC MSS C-H 80, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Another valuable source of information in The Bancroft Library about Frank Norris is to be found in Franklin Walker's correspondence and papers pertaining to his biography of Norris
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC MSS C-H 79).
    Related item of interest: "The Christmas Nightmare, a Gastronomic Extravaganza," by H. J. Stewart (Bohemiam Club. Christmas Low Jinks for 1896). Norris played the part of Rarebit, a Welshman. [Call number fF869 S3.4.B7 B73 1882-1907]

    Material Cataloged Separately

    Inscribed books and other books have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library. See book collection call numbers, A11... See also association file under Black, Janet: Janet Black Collection,
    Identifier/Call Number: A11.A1.
    Also in the book collection are Dr. Frank Norris' Collection, Norris novels acquired from other sources, and a first edition of Sister Carrie with Theodore Dreiser's inscription to Norris.
    Most photographs, drawings, paintings and sketches have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC PIC 1969.019.-020, 1969.19-Pic),
    including four photographs of Polk Street scenes, San Francisco; Norris' home in San Francisco, 1822 Sacramento Street; three photographs of scenes from "Life's Whirlpool" silent movie; and four pictures of Frank Norris (in Portrait Collection). Other photographs have been removed and cataloged separately with call numbers
    Identifier/Call Number: Portraits 4381,
    Identifier/Call Number: 4403-4415, and
    Identifier/Call Number: 14166-14204.
    Most of the drawings, notes, and sketches have been transferred to
    Identifier/Call Number: Pictorial Collection 1969.20-A,
    including Norris' oil painting of a horse's head; Norris' pen and ink sketch of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity dog, Monk; Norris' pen and ink sketch illustrating his article, "A Zulu War Dance;" and Will H. Low's water color illustration for Yvernelle.
    Also, cataloged separately,
    Identifier/Call Number: (BANC MSS C-H 96)
    is film of the bibliographic reference cards on Norris prepared by the W.P.A. bibliography of American literature project. The University of Pennsylvania has the originals.

    Scope and Content

    The collecting of Frank Norris materials at The Bancroft Library began in 1952 with the project, originating in the English Department of the University, to reassemble the pages of the one Norris manuscript known to be extant, McTeague. The pages of the novel had been included in the 1928 Argonaut Manuscript Edition of Norris' collected works - one page, or half a page, to a set. To bring together these pages involved locating the owners of the sets (245) and persuading them either to donate pages or to allow them to be photostated. At the same time, an intense effort was made to locate other Norris papers, through his friends and heirs of friends. The quest met with great success and The Bancroft Library, as a result, has become the largest single repository of Frank Norris material in the country.
    Most outstanding of the accessions were the gifts from Frank Preston, the son of Janet Black, the novelist's widow, in May 1953 (designated the Janet Black Collection in her memory); from Kathleen Norris, widow of Charles G. Norris (Frank's brother), in September 1954; and from Dr. Frank Norris, son of Kathleen and Charles Norris, in June 1969. A list of the papers included in each of these gifts is appended to this report, although some of these items have since been removed for separate cataloging.
    The source of items in the collection has been noted on the folders. Cards have been placed in the manuscripts catalog for the major correspondents. The key included with this report provides information about the arrangement of the collection. Books and other printed items which originally constituted part of this collection have been removed, in most cases, for separate cataloging.


    Frank Norris, who was born in 1870 and died in 1902, proved himself, in his short writing career, to be a major American novelist and one of the most distinguished literary alumni of the University of California.
    Born in Chicago, he came to San Francisco with his family when he was 14. After two years in an art school in Paris, he attended the University of California as a special student for four years, 1890-1894, and then did a year's additional work at Harvard University. He returned to San Francisco, became a newspaper correspondent during the Uitlander insurrection in South Africa and then a staff writer and sub-editor on the San Francisco Wave. Moran of the Lady Letty, which appeared serially in that magazine, brought him a job with S. S. McClure in New York, first as a reader and later as a correspondent for McClure's Magazine in Cuba in 1898. Returning to his job as publisher's reader, he applied himself seriously to his fiction and won recognition and fame. His writing was strongly identified with California, particularly his best known works McTeague (1899) and The Octopus (1901). He looked upon San Francisco as his home, and it was there he died in October 1902.