Skip to main content

Vardis Fisher Papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 555

Scope and Contents

The Vardis Fisher papers document the personal and professional life of prolific Western novelist and author Vardis Fisher. The collection contains material relating to writing projects, personal and family correspondence, photographs, financial records, and personal papers. Writings include notes for large projects, such as the multi-volume Testament of Man, as well as drafts, proofs, printed versions, and other materials for numerous novels, non-fiction, and shorter works dating from the mid 1930s onward. There are drafts and other materials, for example, for his successfull early novel Children of God (1939) to his late Suicide or Murder? (1962), an analysis of the death of Meriwether Lewis. Personal correspondence includes incoming and outgoing letters with friends, writers, publishers, magazines, and others. Additional Fisher material includes financial records, clippings, and personal papers. There is also a fair amount of unsorted correspondence, Fisher family correspondence, Opal Fisher correspondence, and photographs.


  • 1870-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1917-1968


Language of Materials

In English.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Boxes 46 and 64 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of the collection also avaliable on microfilm. Consult Access Services for additional information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Vardis Fisher 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 through various gifts and purchases, 1958-1996.


Organized chronologically by acquisition into five groupings: I. 1958-1968 Acquisitions, 1936-1962. II. August 1992 Acquisition, 1905-1990. III. June 1993 Acquisition, 1870-1984. IV. December 1996 Acquisition, [circa 1930s-1980s]. V. December 1998 Acquisition, [circa 1940s-1960s].


43.45 Linear Feet (74 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Vardis Fisher papers document the personal and professional life of prolific Western novelist and author Vardis Fisher.

Vardis Fisher (1895-1968)

Vardis Fisher was born March 31, 1895 in Annis, Idaho to Joseph Oliver and Temperance (Thornton) Fisher. He was educated at the University of Utah (A.B., 1920) and the University of Chicago (A.M., 1922 and Ph.D., 1925).

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Fisher taught for several years as an assistant professor of English at the University of Utah (1925-1928) and New York University (1928-1931) before returning to Idaho, where he served as director of the Federal Writers Project for the state of Idaho (1935-1939) and as an editor and contributor to various periodicals from the late 1930s until his death in 1968.

Fisher won a number of awards for his literary and non-fiction work, including the Harper Prize in 1939 for Children of God, the Wrangler Award for best Western historical novel in 1965 for Mountain Man, and the Spur Award in 1966 and 1969. Fisher's novel Mountain Man was made into a popular film (Jeremiah Johnson), starring Robert Redford, by Sydney Pollack in 1972.

Fisher married three times: to Leona McMurtrey, 1918; Margaret Trusler, 1928; and Opal Laurel Holmes, 1940.

Biographical information taken from "Vardis (Alvero) Fisher." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2003. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 7 Mar. 2012.

Processing Information

The finding aid for this collection is compiled from individual preliminary lists for each acquisition that were created at or around the time of receipt by the library.

As a rule, descriptive information found in the Collection Contents section is drawn in large part 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 processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Formerly classed as Za Fisher, Uncat Za Fisher, Uncat Za Ms 238, Uncat Za Ms 286, Uncat Za Ms 509, and Uncat Za Ms 594.
Guide to the Vardis Fisher Papers
by Beinecke staff
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
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

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.