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Jean Starr Untermeyer papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 52

Scope and Contents

The Jean Starr Untermeyer Papers contain correspondence, photographs, book reviews, obituaries, poems, offprints, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous papers. The materials span the years 1924 to 1970, with the bulk falling between 1940 and 1965. The collection consists of papers inserted in the books of Jean Starr Untermeyer's personal library. She gave and bequeathed her library to the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 1969 and 1971, respectively, in honor of her son who died at Yale University in 1927. She donated her personal papers to the library of the State University of New York at Buffalo.

The first section of the papers contains correspondence from others to Jean Starr Untermeyer. Much of this consists of letters and cards from aspiring poets, accompanying the gift of a recently published volume of poetry, such as those from Gladys Greene and Polly Hanson. There is also correspondence from publishers who have sent complimentary copies of books or express thanks for permission to reprint material, such as New Orlando Publications and Crown Publishers. Some letters seek advice, while others show appreciation for praise and encouragement, such as those from Max and Fanny Berman, Sue Abbott Boyd, and Hazel Hutchinson. A few simply contain greetings and news from friends, such as Alys Bentley, Bryher, Connie Carrier, Michel Farano, Nandor Fodor, Djane Hearst, Eric Mendelsohn, and Edith Sitwell. Folder 25 contains letters from the poet and critic Joel Keith. Letters from The Saturday Review and Simon and Schuster concern business matters.

The second section, Photographs , includes pictures of Hermann Broch, Michel Farano, Allen Tate, and Jean Starr Untermeyer, along with photographs of her childhood home in Zanesville, Ohio.

The third section, Miscellaneous Papers , includes book reviews of Bryher's The Player's Boy and Edith Sitwell's autobiography Taken Care Of, obituaries of Nandor Fodor, a controversial psychoanalyst, and Erich Kahler, cultural historian and close friend of Hermann Broch, along with offprints of articles by Lancelot Law Whyte, and poems translated by Untermeyer. Folder 48 contains an epistolary biography of Carl Heinrich Hertz, a German officer in World War I, who was killed in 1918.


  • 1924-1970 (inclusive)


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jean Starr Untermeyer 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 or assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift and bequest of Jean Starr Untermeyer. See Description of the Papers for more information.


1.39 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Jean Starr Untermeyer Papers contain correspondence, photographs, book reviews, obituaries, poems, offprints, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous papers.


Jean Starr Untermeyer, poet and former wife of the poet Louis Untermeyer, was born in 1886 in Zanesville, Ohio, to Abram E. and Johanna S. Starr. She attended Columbia University but broke off her studies there in 1907 to marry Louis Untermeyer. Later she envisioned a career as a singer of lieder, debuting in Vienna in 1924, but eventually discontinued that pursuit.

Upon discovering that she had been writing poems secretly for years, her husband encouraged her and submitted her works to magazines. Growing Pains, her first volume of poetry, was published by B. W. Huebsch in 1918. In 1925, the Untermeyers were divorced. They later remarried but were again divorced in 1951. Their only son Richard died while a sophomore at Yale University in 1927.

The following year Untermeyer began work as a translator. Her major effort in this genre was Hermann Broch's The Death of Virgil (1945). She and Broch met at Yaddo in 1939 and remained intimate friends until Broch's death in 1951.

Untermeyer wrote a number of book reviews for The Saturday Review, The New York Times, and other publications. She taught at writers's conferences at Olivet College in Michigan in the 1930s and lectured at The New School for Social Research from 1948 to 1951. Her major poetry collections include Dreams Out of Darkness (1921), Steep Ascent (1927), The Winged Child (1936), and Love and Need (1940). Private Collections, her autobiography, was published in 1965.

Jean Starr Untermeyer died in New York City in July 1970.

Processing Information

In June 2014, material from former call number Za Untermeyer was added to the papers. The material spans boxes 2 and 3.

Guide to the Jean Starr Untermeyer Papers
Under Revision
by Beinecke staff
March 1991
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

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.