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Guide to the James E. Sisson Papers, 1950-1986
BANC MSS 87/167 c  
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Collection Details
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: James E. Sisson Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1950-1986
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 87/167 c
    Creator: Sisson, James E.
    Extent: Originals: Number of containers: 5 boxes, 9 cartons Linear feet: 15.40 Microfilm: Number of reels: 10 (35 mm)
    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.
    Abstract: Consists of Sisson's personal and research correspondence, writings, and research files on Jack London. Correspondence is chiefly with friends and other London scholars, including Tony Bubka, Marlan Beilke, Becky London Fleming, Russ Kingman, Earle Labor, and Joan London. Includes bibliographies and indices relating to London's writings and correspondence, along with drafts and proofs of Sisson's own published and unpublished works on London. Research materials gathered by Sisson relate to papers, theses, dissertations, and plays about London's life and works, along with bibliographies, reviews, and articles about London. Clippings files concern London's family, friends, homes, and scholars, and include a collection of London cartoons, drawings, and other ephemera.

    Microfilm copies of 27 volumes of Jack London scrapbooks, 1899-1942.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers


    Collection is open for research.
    Microfilm of Jack London scrapbooks from the Henry E. Huntington Library are for REFERENCE USE ONLY. They may not be quoted from or reproduced without written permission from the Huntington. Any inquiries should be directed to the Manuscripts Department, Huntington Library, 1151 Oxford Road, San Marino, CA 91108.

    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], James E. Sisson papers, BANC MSS 87/167 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Title: [Posters for the world premiere of Gold, a play in three acts...],
    cataloged as
    Identifier/Call Number: pffPS3523.L653 G6 J3
    Title: James E. Sisson miscellaneous research and personal correspondence,
    Date (inclusive): 1943-1986,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS C-B 876

    Materials Cataloged Separately

    • Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    • Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    The James E. Sisson Papers were given to The Bancroft Library on June 15, 1987 by the Estate of James E. Sisson, via Alan Gooch.


    James Edward Sisson III was born in Vernon, Alabama on August 28, 1917 and educated in the Lamar County public schools, graduating as valedictorian in 1935 from Lamar County High School. After receiving his B.S. from Florence State College in 1939, Sisson taught in the Jackson County, Alabama elementary school system. Between 1941 and 1945, he served as a Cryptographic Technician in the Signal Intelligence Unit in New Guinea and the Philippines. After the war, Sisson attended Auburn University in Alabama, and received a B.S. in Education in 1946 and a M.A. in English in 1947. He taught at Mississippi State University and Georgia Tech before beginning post-graduate studies at Duke University in 1953. During this period, Sisson was diagnosed as having both tuberculosis and facial skin cancer, but in 1960 he began studies at the University of California, Berkeley, with Professor James D. Hart. From 1967 to 1969, Sisson worked as a Library Assistant at The Bancroft Library, and began his research on Jack London in 1970.
    Sisson's contributions to the field of Jack London scholarship were impressive. Joan London considered Sisson the premiere authority on her father, and Jack London scholars around the world respected and admired his work. Discovering previously unpublished Jack London plays at the Library of Congress, Sisson had London's play Gold published for the first time by the Holmes Book Company. He collected and published London's high school writings in Jack London's Articles and Short Stories in the (Oakland) High School Aegis; edited and co-authored with Dale Walker The Fiction of Jack London: A Chronological Bibliography; and compiled several bibliographies, including Jack London First Editions, The Non-Fiction of Jack London, The Collected Poems of Jack London, and Jack London and the South Seas: A Chronological Bibliography. Sisson's French heritage influenced his participation in Paris publications of London's writings. When editor Francis Lacassin translated London's science fiction story, "Star Rover" (1915) into French as "Le Vagabond des Etoiles," Sisson helped with extensive original research.
    Sisson regularly published pamphlets, articles, and reviews on Jack London in newsletters and newspapers, and reviewed almost every London work published since 1960. A tireless worker and advocate on behalf of London scholarship, he assisted many other researchers with grants and materials. As a friend of many of London's relatives, including Joan London and Becky London Fleming, he was a common figure at London festivities and symposia in the Bay Area. Sisson died in November 1986 in Berkeley.

    Scope and Content

    The James E. Sisson Papers, 1950-1986, consist of his personal and research correspondence, in addition to the writings and research files compiled during his years of exhaustive research on Jack London. Includes bibliographies relating to London's writings and correspondence, along with drafts, galleys, and proofs of Sisson's own published and unpublished works on London. The research materials gathered by Sisson relate to papers, theses, dissertations, and plays based on London's life and works, along with bibliographies, reviews, and articles about London. Also includes clipping files concerning London's family, friends, homes, and scholars, along with a collection of London cartoons, drawings, and ephemera, including postcards, flyers, and other miscellaneous items. During processing, unsorted materials were divided into categories which closely paralleled Sisson's own organization.
    Correspondence, both personal and relating to Sisson's London research, includes letters to Tony Bubka, a close personal friend and fellow scholar, as well as Marlan Beilke, Becky London Fleming, Russ Kingman, Earle Labor, and Joan London, who were friends as well as collaborators and colleagues.
    Sisson's writings center on Jack London, but also include London's family and friends. In addition to preparing bibliographies and monographs, Sisson reviewed and responded to works by others that were concerned with his subjects of study. The chronological and alphabetical bibliographic files pertain primarily to London correspondence gathered from newspapers, periodicals, and collections in major research libraries, including the Henry E. Huntington Library and the Utah State University Library, as well as The Bancroft Library. The review indexes and clippings files are comprised of original and photocopies of clippings, some with Sisson annotations, many of which are hard to find elsewhere.
    Photocopies of entire works or sets of materials listed in Sisson's notes and writings which are readily available in the collections of The Bancroft Library have not been retained; the first and last pages of photocopies of dissertations, theses, and blocks of published texts available at other institutions have been retained to assist research. Such materials are retained in full whenever Sisson's annotations and notes render the document an original research source.