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Margaret Marshall papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 10

Scope and Contents

The Margaret Marshall Papers document the life and career of Margaret Marshall. The papers span the dates 1805-1980, but the bulk of the material covers the years 1930-1974.

The collection is composed of five series. Series I, ProfessionalCorrespondence, is contained in Boxes 1-4. Series II, PersonalCorrespondence, is housed in Boxes 5-11. Writings makes up Series III and can be found in Boxes 12-14. Series IV, Family Papers, is contained in Boxes 15-17. Oversize material is placed in Box 19, and Restricted Fragile Papers is found in Box 20.

Series I, Professional Correspondence (Boxes 1-4), is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and is primarily concerned with Margaret Marshall's professional activities, although many of the correspondents were personal friends as well. Of particular interest is the correspondence concerning the American Men of Letters, (Box 1, folders 2-34), a series of critical biographies based upon the English Men of Letters series. These folders contain letters, inter-office memos, and minutes of meetings which chronicle the series from its inception in 1944 to its end in June 1952. The correspondence is concerned mainly with attracting potential biographers (including Randall Jarrell, Delmore Schwartz, and Edwin Muir), arrangements for contracts, and the progress biographers were making with their manuscripts.

There are three folders of correspondence between Margaret Marshall and the poet Randall Jarrell. Their correspondence began in 1945 while Jarrell was still in the army. The 1946 letters are concerned with Jarrell's appointment as acting literary editor for The Nation, (replacing Marshall who had taken a leave of abscence to write a biography of Constance Rourke for the American Men of Letters series) his education and qualifications for the job, and his comments on The Nation staff.

Correspondence between Margaret Marshall and Bernard H. Haggin, music critic for The Nation, is both personal and professional in nature, and spans the years 1939-1974. The letters discuss the controversy surrounding Haggin's reviews, as well as complimentary tickets to musical events, and his daily activities.

Margaret Marshall also carried on a lengthy correspondence with Chicago professor and critic Morton Dauwen Zabel. These letters are concerned with a variety of topics, including reviews and articles Zabel was preparing, the ballet, books, and travel. One letter from 1954 describes the Congresso Internacional des Escritories which Zabel attended in South America and contains a description of William Faulkner.

Material concerning The Nation can be found in the correspondence of Freda Kircheway; Cary McWilliams, the executive editor; Clement Greenberg, art critic; and Caroline Whiting Nash, Margaret Marshall's assistant. While this correspondence is not substantial, there are details about contributors and their articles and the daily operations of TheNation. The letters between Margaret Marshall and Freda Kircheway detail Marshall's termination by The Nation.

The letters of Marianne Moore can be found in Box 3, folders 83-89. Moore comments upon Marshall's leaving The Nation and discusses her poetry, publishing projects, and personal news. A folder of Delmore Schwartz material, contains three poems by Schwartz, "The Angel," "O, Omega, Invocation," and "Judas Iscariot." Other poets represented in the collection include W. H. Auden, Louise Bogan, Ned O'Gorman, Stephen Spender and Wallace Stevens. Other correspondents of interest include T. S. Eliot, Katherine Anne Porter, Lionel and Diana Trilling, and Edmund Wilson.

Series II, Personal Correspondence is contained in Boxes 5-11 and is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. This series primarily consists of letters between Margaret Marshall and her family and friends. The most extensive run of correspondence is between Margaret and her daughter, Judy Fleck (Boxes 6-9, folders 186-235). The letters begin in 1937 when Judy was a student at the North Country School in Lake Placid, New York, and continue until Judy's death in 1971. Judy chronicles her daily activities, friends, and social life during the years 1937-1947, including her high school years at St. Johnsbury Academy in Vermont. The correspondence from 1948 to 1964 is sporadic, but there are letters from 1953 detailing the birth of her daughter, Anne Marshall Fleck. The letters from the years 1956-58 describe her life in a small Mormon community in Arizona, and the the birth of her second daughter, Catherine Lydia Fleck. The correspondence from the years 1964 to 1971 chronicles her life in California, her continuing education, the activities of the children, and her concerns for her mother's health.

In addition there is also correspondence from Margaret Marshall's grandchildren, Anne Marshall Fleck, Catherine Lydia Fleck, Margaret Freda Fleck, and Daniel Vico Fleck. (These letters detail their daily activities, friends, and schoolwork.)

Other family correspondents include Sarah Gaines Marr, Margaret Marshall's cousin; Katherine Parke Marshall, her mother; and Betty Bensen, her niece. These letters, while containing personal news, also include a great deal of genealogical information which Marshall planned to use in her autobiography.

There are several folders of letters from Abie Huston Evans, poet and longtime friend of Margaret Marshall, detailing her publishing activities and including three poems. Letters from Constance Rourke, Sybil Bedford, and Katherine Raine contain personal news. Correspondence from Linda Butler is concerned not only with personal news but also with Constance Rourke, a mutual friend.

Series III, Writings , is housed in Boxes 12-14 and contains manuscripts by Margaret Marshall and others. The material by Margaret Marshall is arranged alphabetically by title. The largest group of material consists of notes, research material, and correspondence for "An American Memoir," Marshall's autobiography. "An American Memoir" is a family history as well as an autobiography, beginning with John "Captain Jack" Marshall, Margaret Marshall's great-grandfather. The correspondence spans the years 1805-1914 and is among members of the Marshall family. Correspondence with various family members from R. H. Gaines, Marshall's uncle by marriage, concerns the Civil War, politics, and daily matters, while correspondence from his wife, Mary Gaines, to her father, Hunter Holmes Marshall, details family matters. Also included in this section is Volume I, Parts I and II, of "An American Memoir." The manuscript chronicles Marshall's life on the Utah frontier at the beginning of the twentieth century and ends when she arrived in New York City in 1927. Marshall did not live to complete Volume II.

Two manuscripts concerning Constance Rourke can be found in this series. "Constance Rourke: Artist and Citizen" appeared in the Books column of The Nation after Constance Rourke's death in 1941. Marshall also began a book on Constance Rourke for The American Men of Letters series and the Writings series contains three folders of correspondence, notes, and a partial manuscript of the book.

The Writings of Others section houses poetry by Marianne Moore, a review by W. H. Auden, notes by Katherine Anne Porter, and an article about Delmore Schwartz by Louise Bogan. Also included are miscellaneous writings by Judy Fleck.

Series IV, Family Papers , consists of the personal papers of Margaret Marshall and her family. Financial papers, vital records, printed matter, and photographs can be found in this series. The material has been arranged alphabetically by subject.

Box 16, folders 394-410 contains papers relating to Judy Fleck, her death in 1971, and the settlement of her estate. Included are medical bills, financial papers, vital records, and correspondence.

The rest of the series pertains to Margaret Marshall. There is a section devoted to financial papers as well a folder concerning insurance. Photographs are housed in Boxes 16-17. They consist of photographs of Margaret Marshall, the Fleck family, and Marshall's ancestors, the Gaines family. Printed matter is composed of folders of clippings collected by Marshall and miscellaneous printed material. Included here are folders of book reviews and obituaries, as well as material pertaining to The Nation, The New Leader, and the American Men of Letters series.

Oversize material is found in Box 219 folder 448, and contains the obituary of Robert H. Gaines.


  • 1805-1980 (inclusive)
  • Majority of material found within 1930 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Restricted Fragile Papers in box 19 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies for reference use have been substituted in the main files.

Conditions Governing Use

The Margaret Marshall Papers are the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1986 by Fred Fleck, Margaret Marshall's son-in-law.


8.5 Linear Feet (19 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


The papers contain personal correspondence, correspondence concerning The Nation and the American Men of Letters series, drafts of her autobiography and other writings, and personal papers.


Margaret Alice Marshall was born in Ogden, Utah, on October 7, 1900, the daughter of Griffin Stith Marshall and Kate Wasserman Parke Marshall. After her graduation from Ogden High School in 1917 she entered the University of Utah, where she remained for two years. She then took a job as secretary to the editor of The Daily Missoulian and Sentinel in Missoula, Montana, and attended the University of Missoula.

In 1925 Marshall worked for six months as secretary to Freda Kircheway, managing editor of The Nation, and married Hal Saunders White. In the fall of 1925 she and White went to New Haven, where White was an instructor in English at Yale University, and Margaret Marshall worked as a secretary for Ellsworth Huntington. The following year she was employed as executive secretary at the Manassas School in Virginia.

In 1927 Margaret Marshall took a job as an editorial assistant on the staff of the New Masses. She remained there for a year and then accepted a position as an editorial assistant to Freda Kircheway at The Nation. She was promoted to associate editor the following year. Marshall remained in this position until the birth of her daughter, Judith Parke White, in June 1931. After a leave of absence Marshall returned to The Nation and became publicity director and film critic. She remained an associate editor until the summer of 1937 when she became literary editor. Margaret Marshall and Hal Saunders White were divorced that same year.

In addition to being in charge of the book section of The Nation, she also sat on the board of editors of The American Men of Letters series from 1944 until the series ended in 1952. She took a leave of absence from The Nation in 1946 to write a book about Constance Rourke for the series. The series ended before the book was completed.

Margaret Marshall remained with The Nation until January 1953 when she was fired for her anti-communist views. She then took a position with Harcourt-Brace Jovanovich as an editor, remaining with the firm until her retirement in 1967. She spent the remaining years of her life working on her autobiography, An American Memoir, and resided in Paris, New York, and California. Margaret Marshall died of cancer in Upland, California on February 1, 1974.

Guide to the Margaret Marshall Papers
Under Revision
by Tina Evans
May 1987
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Access Information

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