Dudley Nichols papers
Scope and Contents
The Dudley Nichols papers contain correspondence, writings, and personal papers documenting the life and work of American screenwriter and director Dudley Nichols. Correspondence with family, friends, authors, critics, actors, and film directors includes a number of authors who, like Nichols, served in the Armed Forces during World War I or resided or worked at least briefly in California and Hollywood. There are letters from Edward Dahlberg, William Faulkner, Gene Fowler, Aldus Huxley, William Marsh, Christopher Morley, Henry Miller, Ernst Toller, and Thornton Wilder, as well as Charlie Chaplin and Jean Renoir. Work by Nichols dating from 1920 to the late 1950s includes several scripts for cinematic and theatrical productions and shorter work, including poetry, reviews, and essays. Personal papers feature Nichols's military records dating from his service in the the U.S. Navy and photographs.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
The Dudley Nichols 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
Acquired by gift from various sources, 1949-1987.
The bulk of the collection, including incoming letters, outgoing letters to family, most writings, and all personal papers, was received by gift from Dudley Nichols, 1949-1960, and his widow, Esta Nichols, 1961-1966. Additional materials, including outgoing letters to others and some writings, were acquired by gift from other sources, 1960-1987.
For more information consult the appropriate curator.
Organized into three series: I. Correspondence, 1915-1960. II. Writings, 1920-1958. III. Personal Papers, 1903-1969.
2.92 Linear Feet (7 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Dudley Nichols papers contain correspondence, writings, and personal papers documenting the life and work of American screenwriter and director Dudley Nichols. Correspondence with family, friends, authors, critics, actors, and directors includes a number of authors who, like Nichols, served in the Armed Forces during World War I or resided or worked at least briefly in California and Hollywood. There are letters from Edward Dahlberg, William Faulkner, Gene Fowler, Aldous Huxley, William Marsh, Christopher Morley, Henry Miller, Ernst Toller, and Thornton Wilder, as well as Charlie Chaplin and Jean Renoir. Work by Nichols dating from 1920 to the late 1950s includes several scripts for cinematic and theatrical productions and shorter works, including poetry, reviews, and essays. Personal papers feature Nichols's military records dating from his service in the U.S. Navy and photographs.
Dudley Nichols (1895-1960)
Dudley Nichols, a screenwriter and director, was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio to Grant Byron Nichols and Mary Means. Nichols developed a fascination with electricity and worked on a crew that repaired high-tension power lines and as a ship's radio operator on the Great Lakes. In 1915 he entered the University of Michigan, where he studied electrical engineering and was employed as a student assistant in charge of the radio laboratory. At the outbreak of World War I, Nichols enlisted in the Navy and set up a school for radio operators. Later, he was part of the North Sea Mine Laying Force.
After the armistice Nichols volunteered for minesweeping duty and invented a method of electrical protection for minesweepers for which he received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1920. Following the war Nichols worked as a reporter for ten years for the Philadelphia Evening Public Ledger, then the New York Evening Post, and finally the New York World. During this period he also studied at New York University and sailed again as a radio operator.
In 1929 Nichols was persuaded by Winfield Sheehan, head of Fox Studios, to become a screenwriter. His first film, Men Without Women (1930), directed by John Ford, led to a collaboration with Ford that lasted until 1947 and resulted in fourteen films, including The Lost Patrol (1934), The Informer (1935), Stagecoach (1939), The Long Voyage Home (1940), and The Fugitive (1947). During the 1940's Nichols also worked with Fritz Lang, Jean Renoir, Howard Hawks, Leo McCarey, René Clair, and Elia Kazan. He wrote the final script of Ernest Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and produced and directed two films based on his own scripts, Sister Kenny (1946) and an adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra (1947).
Biographical information taken from "Dudley Nichols." Dictionary of American Biography. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1980. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 13 Dec. 2012.
This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and in some instances minimal organization upon receipt by the library. Incoming and outgoing correspondence, for example, were arranged into separate alpabetical runs by name of correspondent. During re-processing of the collection in 2012, series were formally established for I. Correspondence, II. Writings, and III. Personal Papers, and the writings and other materials were arranged alphabetically by title and material type in the Writings and Personal Papers series respectively.
Former call numbers: Uncat Za Nichols and Uncat Za Ms 34.
- Authors -- United States -- 20th century
- Authors, American -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Chaplin, Charlie, 1889-1977
- Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977
- Faulkner, William, 1897-1962
- Film scripts
- Fowler, Gene, 1890-1960
- Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963
- Marsh, W. Lockwood (William Lockwood), 1886-1963
- Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957
- Motion picture producers and directors -- United States
- Motion picture producers and directors -- United States -- 20th Century
- Nichols, Dudley, 1895-1960
- Photographic prints
- Renoir, Jean, 1894-1979
- Screenwriters -- United States -- 20th Century
- Screenwriters -- United States -- 20th Century -- Archives
- Toller, Ernst, 1893-1939
- Wilder, Thornton, 1897-1975
- Guide to the Dudley Nichols Papers
- by Beinecke staff
- December 2012
- 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
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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