Skip to main content

Katherine Mayo papers

Call Number: MS 345
Scope and Contents
Correspondence, diaries, writings, photographs, scrapbooks, research materials, and miscellanea documenting the personal life and literary career of Katherine Mayo, an author of several historical and investigative articles, essays, and books from 1896-1940.

Correspondence files document the detailed literary research Mayo conducted, and the strong public reaction generated by her writings. This is particularly true for the books: Justice to All (1917), The Isles of Fear (1925), and Mother India (1927). Diaries provide sporadic information on the daily activities of Mayo, while her writings include drafts of many works. Photographs and research materials further detail the foreign travels (South America, India, the Philippine Islands) and subsequent literary works produced by Mayo. Scrapbooks contain reviews and commentary relating to Mayo's publications. The papers provide information on such diverse topics as life in India, the Philippine Islands, and South America; the Pennsylvania State Police; George Washington; the Y.M.C.A. during World War I; war veterans of World War I; and the narcotics trade.

The Katherine Mayo Papers (27.50 linear ft.) are arranged in five series: I. Correspondence, 1898-1968; II. Diaries, 1886-1955; III. Essays and Newspaper Articles, 1890-1941; IV. Books, 1917-1940; and V. Photographs and Miscellanea, 1835-1940.
Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, 1898-1968, is arranged in chronological order and contains the incoming correspondence of Katherine Mayo (1898-1940) and M. Moyca Newell (ca. 1910-1968). The bulk of correspondence pertains to Katherine Mayo, and specificially her literary work on such books as Justice to All (1917), The Standard Bearers (1918), Mounted Justice (1922), Isles of Fear (1925), Mother India (1927), and Soldiers, What Next? (1934). Letters from publishers and individuals who read Mayo's works are included in this series.

Letters relating to Mayo's most familiar work, Mother India (1927), include correspondence from government figures in India, Great Britain, and the United States. This work elicited international comment and controversy, and both praise and condemnation, for its detailed view of Indian society. An earlier work by Mayo, Isles of Fear (1925), which examined life in the Philippine Islands, created a similar although less vocal reaction, as did her writings on the New York and Pennsylvania state police forces: Justice to All (1917), The Standard Bearers (1918), and Mounted Justice (1922). Soldiers, What Next?, published in 1934, also engendered a degree of controversy, as Mayo openly criticized the treatment of military veterans in the United States.

Prior to Mayo's success as a literary figure she was employed by Oswald Garrison Villard to conduct extensive field research for his biography of John Brown. Letters from Villard (ca. 1907-1913) detail Mayo's exhaustive research and include his encouragement regarding her own literary career. Letters from Harvard University's Peabody Museum and the Entomological News of Philadelphia (ca. 1900-1907) concern Mayo's work for those organizations. She lived with her father in South America during the early 1900s, and contracted to collect Indian relics and insect specimens.

Series II, DIARIES, 1886-1955, contains several volumes of diaries maintained by Katherine Mayo and M. Moyca Newell from 1886-1955. The diaries offer few insights into the thoughts of Mayo and Newell; rather, these volumes tend to briefly summarize the appointments and activities of a particular year or years.

Series III, ESSAYS AND NEWSPAPER ARTICLES, 1890-1941, contains drafts and printed copies of many of Mayo's first literary works. Mayo's work was published in such popular magazines and journals of the day as: Atlantic Monthly, Scribner's, The Outlook, and Nash's. Many of these essays formed the foundation (or an actual component) of Mayo's books.

Series IV, BOOKS, 1917-1939, contains manuscripts, notes, and photographs used in the research and writing of Mayo's books. Scrapbooks containing book reviews and speaking engagements are also arranged in this series. Several scrapbooks for Mother India (1927), in boxes thirty-seven through forty-one, document the widespread attention that book received.

Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS AND MISCELLANEA, 1835-1940, contains personal photographs of Mayo, including several portraits. Miscellanea includes a variety of ephemera, such as an autograph book; an account book of James Mayo, Katherine's father, dated 1835-1838; and a piece of the rope allegedly used to hang John Brown.

The Mayo Papers were donated to Yale University Library by M. Moyca Newell, 1951-1962, and Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Meade, 1962.
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of M. Moyca Newell, 1951-1962 and Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Meade, 1962. Gift, 2021.
Arranged in five series and one addition: I. Correspondence, 1898-1968. II. Diaries, 1886-1955. III. Essays and Newspaper Articles, 1890-1941. IV. Books, 1917-1940. V. Photographs and Miscellanea, 1835-1940.
Majority of material found within 1918 - 1940
39.58 Linear Feet (71 boxes)
Related Names
Mayo, Katherine, 1868?-1940
Language of Materials