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Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 483
Scope and Contents
The Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter Papers consists of correspondence, writings, photographs, financial papers, and other material that document the work and lives of the writers Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter. The Papers provide evidence of Stewart and Winter's writing careers as well as political activism. The Papers also relate to Stewart and Winter's friends and family, including Lincoln Steffens. The Papers illuminate the creative lives of Stewart and Winter and offer insights into artistic production, literary circles, and the interconnection of artistry and activism in the twentieth century.

Stewart's work as a humorist, playwright, and screenwriter is documented in his correspondence, drafts, and printed versions of his writings, which trace his creative process as well as the production of his work on stage and in film. For example Stewart's play The Kidders is traced from a typescript draft to photographs of its production at the Arts Theatre Club and various reviews. Letters between Stewart and directors, such as Leo Mittler and Samuel Wanamaker, in addition to letters filed under the title of publications and productions in the Correspondence series, also provide a window into Stewart's writing career.

Ella Winter's writing process is evident in the various research files, drafts, and printed material in the Papers. Winter's work as a journalist and editor are captured in the printed versions of a number of newspapers, including The Carmelite and The Pacific Weekly, both of which Winter edited. Winter's travels for book projects in Russia and China are traced in her research files, drafts of articles, and correspondence. For example, the Writings series includes a file containing notes, drafts, photographs, and correspondence relating to Winter's travels in China and an abandoned book project. While there are few documents pertaining to Winter's translation work, there is some correspondence between Winter and Havelock Ellis, who provided the introduction to her translation of Diary and Letters of Otto Braun.

The Papers document Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter's political activism. Several documents reflect Stewart's commitment to liberal causes; for example his correspondence and a file on "Hollywood Anti-Nazi League" relate to his role as president of the association. Ella Winter's political advocacy is documented in various drafts, printed versions, and correspondence. Winter's files on "Labor Strikes" and "Migratory Labor Camp reports" in addition to her correspondence with Carol Decker and John Steinbeck relate to her work on behalf of migrant workers.

The Papers also record Stewart and Winter's persecution as a result of their political activities, and in particular, their communist sympathies and affiliations. For example, Winter's correspondence file "Reds" pertains to an FBI investigation of Winter and Lincoln Steffens during which an investigator, Charles Baczsy, posed as a neighbor and friend. The Papers also reflect Stewart's ordeal of being blacklisted from Hollywood. For example the Writings series contains drafts and reviews for Escapade, a Hollywood production for which Stewart was forced to write under a pseudonym. Stewart also reflects about being blacklisted in his autobiography By a Stroke of Luck! (drafts and related material for which are also located in the Writings series).

Stewart and Winter's circle of friends included a number of prominent writers, artists, directors, and actors, as their correspondence and personal papers illustrate. For example, the Correspondence Series includes letters reflecting Stewart's connection with the Algonquin Round Table (various letters relate to Dorothy Parker); American expatriates in 1920s France (correspondents include Ernest Hemingway, Gerald and Sara Murphy, and others); and Hollywood in the 1930s and 1940s (correspondents include Samuel Wanamaker). Winter and Lincoln Steffen's circle also included a number of friends involved in arts and politics. As her correspondence indicates, Winter maintained friendships with sculptor Jo Davidson and his wife Yvonne, authors Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Sara Bard Field, poet Robinson Jeffers and his wife Una, and poet Marie de L. Welch. Photographs in the Personal Papers series also capture these relationships. Combined these documents reflect the culturally rich communities in which Stewart and Winter were immersed.

Stewart and Winter's personal lives, including their education, marriage, previous relationships, and family life, are also documented in the Papers. For example, the Correspondence Series includes letters between Stewart and Beatrice Ames and between Winter and Lincoln Steffens as well as between Stewart, Winter, and their children, parents, and siblings. The Personal Papers and Financial Papers series are also a window into Stewart and Winter's early lives, including, Donald Ogden Stewart's education at Yale University and Ella Winter's education at the London School of Economics. Diaries, day planners, and other documents provide a glimpse into their daily lives, and a number of photographs offer a sense of Stewart and Winter's milieu.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The Donald Ogden Stewart and Ella Winter Papers 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
Gift of Donald Ogden Stewart, Donald Ogden Stewart, Jr. and Peter Steffens, 1970-2015.
Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, 1854-1980. II. Writings, 1915-1975. III. Personal Papers, 1881-1976. IV. Financial Papers, 1909-1972.
ca. 1839-1951
83 Linear Feet (85 boxes)
Related Names
Stewart, Donald Ogden, 1894-1980
Winter, Ella, 1898-1980
Language of Materials