Skip to main content

Mabel Dodge Luhan collection

Call Number: YCAL MSS 197
Scope and Contents

The Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection consists of letters, manuscripts, photographs, and personal papers documenting the life and work of Mabel Dodge Luhan. The collection spans the years 1885-1984.

The collection is housed in seven boxes and organized into seven series according to provenance: Charlotte Becker Purchase, Edmund R. Brill Gifts, Margaret Heyman Gift, Walter Willard Johnson Purchase, Richard B. Streeper Gift, Carl Van Vechten Gifts, and Material from Other Sources. Boxes 6-7 contain Oversize and Restricted Fragile material respectively.

Series I, Charlotte Becker Purchase , is organized into four subseries: Correspondence, Writings of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Photographs, and Other Papers.

This series consists of various material acquired by Becker, a native of Buffalo, dating from late 19th century photographs of Luhan to 1940. The Correspondence consists entirely of incoming letters and postcards from Luhan and Walter Willard ("Spud") Johnson. There are numerous postcards from Luhan, many from abroad, and a few letters, dating from the 1930s, discussing family, friends, and book projects. In addition, there are a few articles, at least one of which ("Women Who Seek...") does not appear to duplicate material in the Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers (YCAL MSS 196).

Series II, Edmund R. Brill Gifts , is also organized into four subseries: Correspondence, Writings of Mabel Dodge Luhan, Photographs, and Other Papers.

The bulk of the Correspondence in Series II consists of letters between Luhan and Dr. Abraham Arden Brill, one of the first practicing psychoanalysts in the United States. Luhan started analysis with Brill in 1916, and the two maintained a long working relationship and friendship. Most letters date from the 1930s, during which time Luhan put out Lorenzo in Taos and Intimate Memories. Luhan's letters to Brill touch on her work and experience, psychoanalytic and Freudian concepts, and friends. Brill's letters (carbons) provide interpretations of feelings and actions described in Luhan's letters, impressions of Luhan's writings, including an account of her analysis ("Psychoanalysis with Dr. Brill"), and considerable encouragement.

The Correspondence includes several postcards from John Reed to Luhan, dating from 1917, and several letters from others regarding D. H. Lawrence, most dating from the 1930s, including third-party letters to and from D. H. and Frieda Lawrence.

Other noteworthy items in this series include a watercolor painting by Luhan in Other Papers and corrected, typescript carbon drafts of the manuscripts "Hildegarde" and "Una and Robin" in Writings of Mabel Dodge Luhan.

Series III, Margaret Heyman Gift , consists of 14 photogaphs arranged alphabetically by the name of the person(s) portrayed. There are photographs of Mabel and Tony Luhan, Dorothy Brett, Robinson and Una Jeffers, Mrs. Abraham Arden Brill, and Mrs. Marcus Babcock Heyman.

Series IV, Walter Willard Johnson Purchase , is organized into three subseries: Correspondence, Writings of Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Other Papers.

The bulk of the correspondence, six of seven total folders, consists of original letters from Luhan to Walter Willard or "Spud" Johnson. Johnson co-edited a small publication in Santa Fe entitled Laughing Horse, to which Luhan contributed articles in the 1920s. He also worked as a secretary to Luhan. Luhan's letters to Johnson date from 1927-58, include many brief postcards, telegrams, and notes, and cover work and personal matters. A few letters are addressed both to Johnson and Witter "Hal" Bynner. Letters between Luhan and others are arranged in choronological order in the folder "Other Correspondence."

Writings of Mabel Dodge Luhan, housed in boxes 2-5, includes several pieces of writing that cannot be found in the Luhan Papers (YCAL MSS 196). There are incomplete drafts of several longer writings: a holograph draft of Edge of Taos Desert; a manuscript, in holograph and typescript, of the unpublished "Family Affairs"; holograph and typescript drafts of Movers & Shakers; the original holograph manuscript of the unpublished novel "Water of Life"; and the first draft, corrected, of Winter in Taos. In addition, there are manuscripts of several shorter articles and narratives. Presumably these manuscripts came into Johnson's possession when he worked for Luhan.

Series V, Richard B. Streeper Gift , consists of four folders of correspondence between Luhan and Dr. Eric P. Hausner. Letters date from 1946-58 and deal largely with matters of physical health and family, though in one letter, dated "Nov. 12, 1954," Luhan mentions her essay "Doctors: Fifty Years of Experience."

Series VI, Carl Van Vechten Gifts , is organized into two subseries: Photographs and Other Papers.

The Writings subseries includes four pieces of writing by Luhan and a typescript copy of Gertrude Stein's famous essay, "Portrait of Mabel Dodge at the Villa Curonia." There are two printed articles, "Georgia O'Keeffe in Taos" and "The Santos of New Mexico," which cannot be found in the Luhan Papers (YCAL MSS 196), and a bound typescript draft of Chapter V of European Experiences entitled "Portrait of the Villa Curonia." This bound draft includes photographs of Luhan and the Villa Curonia by painter Jacques-Emile Blanche.

Photographs contains photographs of Mabel and Tony Luhan, the Villa Curonia, and "Los Gallos," Luhan's property in Taos.

Series VII, Material from Other Sources , consists of single items from other sources, including Patricia Ward Biederman, Black Sun Books, Alfred Dasburg, Elizabeth W. DeHuff, Edward J. Foote, Anton V. Long, and Lawrence Clark Powell. The series is organized into four subseries: Correspondence, Writings, Photographs, and Other Papers. There are two original letters from Luhan, one to Robert Edmund Jones, printed articles on Luhan by Biederman, Eya Fechin, and Powell, a couple photographs, including a poloroid image of a pencil drawing of Luhan by Maurice Sterne.

Oversize material, housed in box 6, contains items from Series I, Series II, and Series VI. Restricted Fragile material is housed in box 7.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 7: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Conditions Governing Use

The Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection is 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 Mabel Dodge Luhan Collection was acquired through various gifts and purchases dating from 1954.

Associated Materials

Material related to Mabel Dodge Luhan that was donated to the library by Mabel Dodge Luhan is located in the Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers (YCAL MSS 196).

3.97 Linear Feet ((7 boxes) + 1 art )
Related Names
Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962
Language of Materials