The Fannie Hurst Papers, circa 1910-1965, include manuscripts, correspondence,
personal and financial documents, scrapbooks, photographs, news clippings, and
printed materials. The papers are arranged in four series: I. Works, 1910s-1960s
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.
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unpublished articles and stories, as well as story fragments.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
typed carbon copies of outgoing letters maintained in her files for business
purposes from 1928-1946. These are arranged alphabetically by recipient name.
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
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.
Guardia, Sinclair Lewis, NBC, the National Conference of Christians and Jews,
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
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
sympathy letters, materials forwarded to Hurst from her publishers, and copies
poems and articles written by friends. Of particular interest are the articles
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,
notably manuscripts, clippings, and miscellaneous materials, are in fragile
condition and should be handled with care until further processing and housing
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
wrote to the Director of the Humanities Research Center, F. Warren Roberts, that
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
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.