Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fannie Hurst:

A Preliminary Inventory of Her Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968
Title: Fannie Hurst Papers
Dates: circa 1910-1965
Extent: 274 document boxes, 1 oversize box, 1 galley folder (117.50 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of American author, lecturer, and commentator Fannie Hurst include manuscripts of her works (short stories, novels, film scenarios, plays, articles, columns, speeches, and talks), both incoming and outgoing correspondence, as well as miscellaneous materials.
Language: English
Access:

Open for research




Acquisition:

Gift, 1964

Processed by:

Candid Rogers, John Hawthorne, and Joan Sibley, 1993

Repository:

The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center


The Fannie Hurst Papers, circa 1910-1965, include manuscripts, correspondence, personal and financial documents, scrapbooks, photographs, news clippings, and other printed materials. The papers are arranged in four series: I. Works, 1910s-1960s (70 boxes); II. Letters, 1928-1946 (6 boxes); III. Recipient, 1910s-1965 (165 boxes); and IV. Miscellaneous, 1914-1965, undated (33 boxes).

Fannie Hurst's literary career is well documented in the Works series, which includes manuscripts of novels, short stories, articles, columns, plays, radio scripts, scenarios, and other creative material. The materials date from the 1910s to the 1960s. The series is subdivided into three subseries, A. Alphabetical Files, B. Genre Files, and C. Unidentified. The manuscripts of almost all of Hurst's books, including her most famous works such as Humoresque, Back Street, Lummox, Imitation of Life, and Anatomy of Me: A Wonderer in Search of Herself, can be found in Subseries A., usually in multiple drafts with handwritten revisions. Works are also sometimes recast from their original genre for a film scenario or dramatic adaptation. Subseries B. encompasses approximately thirty boxes of short stories, articles, and radio scripts that demonstrate Hurst's interest in writing short fiction, non-fiction, and commentary. Subseries C. contains a small number of unpublished articles and stories, as well as story fragments.

The Letters series is the smallest in the Hurst collection. It primarily consists of typed carbon copies of outgoing letters maintained in her files for business purposes from 1928-1946. These are arranged alphabetically by recipient name. The letters mainly refer to literary rights, product sponsorships, and personal business and many were written by her secretary. Hurst's popular appeal is amply demonstrated in her replies to fan mail, charity appeals, and lecture invitations. Of particular note in this series are letters to Greta Garbo, Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Don Marquis. Also included in this series are a few letters from Hurst to experts in various fields that relate to information she needed for her stories.

The Recipient series, consisting of letters to Hurst, is the largest in the Hurst collection. Some 165 boxes contain incoming correspondence, often with carbon copy responses from Hurst, dating from the 1910s to 1965. The series is organized alphabetically by author, although Hurst grouped some correspondence topically, under such titles as Letters re. Appassionata, "Diet and Health," "Negro Matters," or "Dogs." Included in the series are requests from readers for information about a writing career, letters from philanthropical organizations, letters from friends and family, early rejection letters, requests for lectures, invitations to social gatherings, business related correspondence, letters from people with story ideas, endorsement requests, charitable requests from organizations and individuals, letters from autograph collectors, letters from writers she encouraged, correspondence with clothiers, paper suppliers, etc., and letters from movie and book publishers. The correspondence reflects Hurst's interest in civil rights, Jewish, and anti-Fascist issues, and is so comprehensive that Hurst's daily interests and activities are almost fully documented. The series contains less personal correspondence, although it contains a few routine letters from her husband, Jacques Danielson, as well as correspondence from her parents.

A sample of correspondents of note follows: the American Birth Control League, the ACLU, the American Jewish Congress, Elizabeth Arden, Authors League of America, Lillian Becker, Albert Berg, B'nai B'rith, Books & Authors War Bond Rally, Theda Bara Brabin, Madeleine Borg, Pearl S. Buck, Jonathan Cape, Jacques Chambrun, the City Wide Citizens' Committee on Harlem, Alma Clayburgh, Louis Cohen, Cosmopolitan, Hume Cronyn, Curtis Brown, the Democratic National Party, Theodore Dreiser, Marie Dressler, Edna Ferber, Daniel Frohman, Zona Gale, Hadassah, Harpers, the Constance Hope Foundation, Zora Neale Hurston, Blanche Knopf, Fiorella H. La Guardia, Sinclair Lewis, NBC, the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the New York Times, Charles and Kathleen Norris, Ruth Bryan Owen, Paramount Pictures, PEN, RKO, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles Edward Russell, the Salvation Army, and Carl Van Vechten.

The Miscellaneous series consists primarily of fan mail, dating from the 1920s to the 1960s. Also found in this series are notebooks, calendars, wills, notes, lists, contracts, biographical material, documents related to personal finances, and interviews. Hurst also maintained Jacques Danielson's correspondence, as well as sympathy letters, materials forwarded to Hurst from her publishers, and copies of poems and articles written by friends. Of particular interest are the articles and notes that document Hurst's interest in political and social issues.

Organization and Condition

Though the Fannie Hurst Papers have been roughly sorted into four categories, the categories are not all in physical sequence. Fairly substantial work has already been done in sorting and housing materials in the Letters and Recipient categories. Manuscripts have been unbundled and placed in multiple file folders where necessary, with file numbering that reflects the original bundle groupings (on the folders, i.e., 1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3). No doubt extraneous material will be found among these groups, but the author's original order is here preserved until further processing is done. Description is at file folder level. Many collection items, most notably manuscripts, clippings, and miscellaneous materials, are in fragile condition and should be handled with care until further processing and housing are undertaken.

Provenance

The Fannie Hurst Papers were brought to the attention of then Chancellor Harry Huntt Ransom on October 12, 1964, by Morris Ernst, the noted civil liberties lawyer. Ernst, a close friend of Hurst's, had given his papers to The University of Texas, and he phoned Ransom to say that Hurst wished to donate nine suitcases of manuscripts to the library. Ransom immediately sent a telegram to Hurst to register his enthusiasm about the possibility of obtaining her papers. Over the next six months, five other universities approached Hurst with the same intention, but she wrote to the Director of the Humanities Research Center, F. Warren Roberts, that she was "particularly attracted to Texas." By May 22, 1965, Hurst reached a decision, sending a letter to Dr. Roberts which read: "my material, unorganized, disorganized, is about to descend upon you. I have had neither the courage nor the time to delve into the mass but I am hopeful there are original manuscripts (all of my originals are in type scripts) but I cannot guarantee that I have them. The bulk of my correspondence over the years I am sending as is, leaving it to your luckless coordinator to organize, sort, and then get in touch with me." By June 20, 1965, the Fannie Hurst Papers had arrived at The University of Texas.


Additional Hurst materials can be found in the Vertical Files, Scrapbook Collection, Photography Collection, Personal Effects Collection, Performing Arts Collection, and in the collections of other writers whose papers are at the Ransom Center.

More than 200 folders of ephemeral material, such as clippings, dust jackets, pamphlets, articles, invitations, reports, and programs, can be found in the Vertical Files. Within the Scrapbook Collection are thirty-nine scrapbooks, created and maintained by Hurst. In poor physical condition, the scrapbooks are divided by year, and include clippings following Hurst's career from her earliest acting attempts to her television appearances of the late 1950s. The scrapbooks also contain clippings of interest to Hurst, as well as snapshots and information forwarded from friends.

The Photography Collection houses approximately 300 photographs from the Fannie Hurst Papers. Approximately half of the photographs date from the 1950s and 1960s, but there are a few of Hurst in her younger years. There are also photographs of Jacques Danielson, her dogs, film actresses, and snapshots of friends and family.

Other author collections at the Ransom Center house correspondence from Fannie Hurst. There are single letters from the author in the PEN, Joseph Conrad, Margaret Cousins, and R. L. Giffen Collections. The Harpers, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., Morris L. Ernst, Sinclair Lewis, M. A. B. Lowndes, and Philip Moeller Collections house multiple letters from Hurst. A letter to A. W. Lublin from Hurst is also tipped into a copy of Lummox. The Ransom Center has letters to Hurst in the collections of Harpers and Rebecca West. Further, letters to Hurst from Julius J. Adams, William Bondy, Dodge Publishing, E. P. Dutton & Co., Farrar & Rinehart, Daniel Frohman, Solomon Goldman, Harcourt, Brace and Co., Samuel Heller, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., J. B. Lippincott Co., Walter G. MacPeek, Edward Lyons, Thomas Jefferson Miley, G. P. Putnam's, and William B. Ziffare have been tipped into books owned by Fannie Hurst.