F. O. Matthiessen papers
Scope and Contents
The F. O. Matthiessen Papers document the work and life of historian, literary critic and educator F. O. Matthiessen. The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence, drafts of writings, notebooks, agendas, teaching materials, photographs, printed materials, and personal papers, spanning the years 1900-1964. The bulk of the collection consists of Matthiessen's correspondence and writing drafts and original material collected by Louis Hyde in the process of researching and writing Rat and the Devil: Journal Letters of F. O. Matthiessen and Russell Cheney. Writings shed light on Matthiessen's creative process and include handwritten and typescript drafts and printed versions of writings, including his books American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman, "Oliver Goldsmith as Essayist and Critic," Sarah Orne Jewett, and Theodore Dreiser. Correspondence includes letters from friends and colleagues regarding his writings, and personal and professional matters. Material collected by Louis Hyde in the course of his research includes original correspondence between Matthiessen and Cheney, with some photocopies.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Existence and Location of Copies
Microfilm service copy is available for: I. 1967 Acquisitions, Other Papers, Financial papers, 1948-1950 (film number 955).
Conditions Governing Use
The F. O. Matthiessen 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 Louis K. Hyde, 1967; George Abbott White, 1967, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1991; and Richard W. Hyde, 1995.
Organized into seven groupings: I. 1967 Acquisitions, 1913-1964. II. January 1967 Acquisition, 1900-1955. III. September and October 1983 Acquisitions, 1901-1955. IV. June 1984 Acquisition, 1930-1931. V. April 1985 Acquisition, 1941-1949. VI. February 1991 Acquisition, 1941. VII. June 1995 Acquisition, 1924-1945.
23.76 Linear Feet (22 boxes)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
The F. O. Matthiessen Papers document the work and life of historian, literary critic, and educator F. O. Matthiessen. The papers consist of personal and professional correspondence, drafts of writings, notebooks, agendas, teaching materials, photographs, printed materials, and personal papers, spanning the years 1900-1964. The bulk of the collection consists of Matthiessen's correspondence and writing drafts and original material collected by Louis Hyde in the process of researching and writing Rat & the Devil: Journal Letters of F. O. Matthiessen and Russell Cheney.
F. O. Matthiessen, 1902-1950
Francis Otto Matthiessen, American historian, literary critic and educator. He was born on February 19, 1902 in Pasadena, California. Matthiessen graduated from Yale University in 1923, was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and received his doctorate from Harvard in 1927. He taught at Harvard University from 1929-1950 and chaired its undergraduate program in history and literature. Matthiessen's notable works concern T. S. Eliot, the James family (Alice James, Henry James, Henry James Sr., and William James), and writers of the American Renaissance, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Sarah Orne Jewett, Sinclair Lewis, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman. He is best known for his book, American Renaissance: Art and Expression in the Age of Emerson and Whitman (1941).
Matthiessen's life partner was the painter Russell Cheney and the couple shared a cottage in Kittery, Maine. Matthiessen kept his personal life quite private and wished for most of his colleagues to not know he was gay. His friends, however, maintained close relationships with him and Cheney throughout their years together. Cheney died in 1945 of mesenteric thrombosis and Matthiessen never recovered from his death. He committed suicide by jumping from a window in 1950.
Collection are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.
This collection received preliminary processing at the time of acquisition in 1967, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1991, and 1995. Further organization, rehousing and/or description was carried out in 2011. This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call numbers: Za Matthiessen; Uncat ZA MS Matthiessen; Uncat ZA MS 206; Uncat ZA File 257; Uncat ZA MS 331; Uncat ZA MS 353; Uncat ZA MS 354; Uncat ZA MS 444. Various acquisitions associated with the collection have not been merged and organized as a whole. Each acquisition is described separately in the contents list below, according to month and year of acquisition.
Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial and subsequent processing.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Guide to the F. O. Matthiessen Papers
- by Molly Wheeler
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
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New Haven, CT 06511
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