Request Checked Items
University of Texas at Austin

Erle Stanley Gardner:

An Inventory of Additions to His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Gardner, Erle Stanley, 1889-1970
Title: Additions to the Erle Stanley Gardner Papers
Dates: 1904-1992, undated
Extent: 692 document boxes, 15 cartons, 9 oversize boxes (308.48 linear feet), 1 oversize folder (osf), 16 galley folders (gf)
Abstract: Among the major holdings in the Additions to the Erle Stanley Gardner Papers are: numerous scripts for the Perry Mason radio and television shows; extensive general correspondence files; Court of Last Resort files and television scripts; Paisano Productions files; travel files; magazine files; Thayer Hobson papers and related William Morrow and Company correspondence files; plot notebooks; reference files; and miscellaneous legal cases. Other materials are present, including about twenty fiction and nonfiction works by Gardner, plus a number of works by writers, either about Gardner or based on Gardner’s writings. See also the finding aid for the cataloged Erle Stanley Gardner Papers (222 boxes) for information about their contents and about extensive related holdings of Gardner art, books, moving images, personal effects, photographs, sound recordings, and vertical file materials.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-01530
Language: English
Access: Open for research except for materials restricted by the donor: Financial papers (boxes 300R-373R; 480R-R507); Morgue files (boxes 456R-476R); Ranch files (boxes 374R-378R); and Real estate files (boxes 379R-380R). Some Perry Mason radio scripts (boxes 630R-635R) are unavailable for use until they can be treated for mold damage. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials.
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation: Erle Stanley Gardner Additions to His Papers (Manuscript Collection MS-01530). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Purchases and gifts, 1973-2015 (including, but not limited to acquisition numbers G187, G247, G402, G1248, G1473, G1510, G 1574, G8841, G8852, G9260, G9614, G10491, and 15-08-11-G, which are identified in the container list)
Processed by: Laura Parker, Robert Kendrick, 1996; revised by Joan Sibley, 2022. Note: This finding aid is a draft box-level listing of Additions to the Erle Stanley Gardner Papers which are not yet fully processed or described.

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

Among the major holdings in the Additions to the Erle Stanley Gardner Papers are: numerous scripts for the Perry Mason radio and television shows; extensive general correspondence files; Court of Last Resort files and television scripts; Paisano Productions files; travel files; magazine files; Thayer Hobson papers and related William Morrow and Company correspondence files; plot notebooks; reference files; and miscellaneous legal cases. Other materials are present, including about twenty fiction and nonfiction works by Gardner, plus a number of works by other writers, either about Gardner or based on Gardner’s writings. Please see the Cataloging Notes below for information on the current arrangement and description of the additions.
Perry Mason scripts, 1943-1992 (223 boxes): radio show scripts, 1943-1955 (46 boxes) and television show scripts, 1957-1992 (177 boxes).
The Perry Mason radio scripts (boxes 59-98, 630-635) exist as bound volumes of episode scripts (1943-1947) and unbound episode scripts (1947-1955). Because the show ran five days a week in 15-minute serial episodes for twelve years, the scripts are numbered up to 3,225. However, Gardner’s staff documented that some episodes were lacking from the unbound episode scripts when transferred to the Ransom Center, while others are represented by duplicate copies. The bound volumes (630-635) are restricted until they are treated for mold. See also radio show publicity photos and captions, 1952 (box 626) and radio programming and ratings information, 1944-1949 (box 638).
Three different television shows are represented by scripts: Perry Mason show, 1957-1966 (boxes 1-55; 554-597; 642-710); The New Perry Mason show, 1973-1974 (boxes 525-529), and the Perry Mason television film series, 1985-1995 (boxes 620-621, 624-625).
The original Perry Mason show (271 episodes over nine seasons) is represented in three groups of scripts, along with 15 episodes for the later reprised show, and 22 of the 30 episodes for the film series (1985-1992). A complete bound set of scripts for the 271 episodes (boxes 642-710) contains a variety of related materials for each episode, such as earlier script drafts, memos about the script writers, Gardner comments and suggestions on scripts, editing reports, cast sheets, some headshots, call sheets, production reports, shooting schedules, set drawings (interiors), and program standards and practices memos.
A listing of all television episodes (three chronological lists for the three shows and one combined alphabetical list by title) is included at the end of this finding aid to help locate individual scripts within groups of files in these papers. Because virtually all of the episode titles begin with "The Case of the," the scripts are filed by the next word, for example, "The Case of the Restless Redhead" is filed alphabetically under "Restless".
General correspondence files, 1925-1970 (158 boxes; boxes 124-181).
Among persons, organizations, or topics with at least one of box of correspondence are: American Polygraph; archery; automobiles; charity requests; Dell Publishing; Desert Protective Council; Doubleday Publishing; employment; A. A. Fair; family; fans; Gardner (general, medical, memberships); C. B. Hanscom; Robert Thomas Hardy; Joint Civilian Orientation Conference; legal; medicolegal and forensic matters; Morrow (William) and Company; newspapers; Frank Orr; personal friends; photography; Pocket Books, Inc.; political; publishers; radio; real estate; requests; Tee Rose; Hubert W. Smith; LeMoyne Snyder; speaking engagements; speeches; Adolph Sutro; television; Willis Kingsley Wing; and writers. See also related correspondence files from William Morrow and Company (boxes 296-299).
Court of Last Resort files and television scripts, 1938-1970 (31 boxes).
The Court is represented by correspondence and other files related to the work of the Court of Last Resort project (boxes 56-68, 400-417; 508-509; 545, 598-602; 636-637). Team members represented by correspondence include Alex Gregory, Marshall Houts, Bob Rhay, Raymond Schindler, Tom Smith, LeMoyne Snyder, Harry Steeger, and Park Street. The files include cases concerning Clarence Boggie, Marion I. Bowling, E. L. “Lefty” Fowler, William Marvin Lindley, Tom Runyon, Sam Sheppard, and the Wilson Brothers (Turman and Utah) among many others. There is also substantial correspondence between Gardner and Nathan Leopold, Jr., of the notorious Leopold and Loeb murder, dating just prior to his parole in 1958 and continuing afterward. There are also television show scripts for The Court of Last Resort, 1957-1958 (26 episodes, boxes 56-57) and production files (box 58). A comprehensive and useful alphabetical card index of Court of Last Resort cases is also present (box 545). See also the Henry Franklin files (boxes 519-520).
Paisano Productions files, 1955-1992 (27 boxes).
Files for Paisano Productions (boxes 58, 548-553; 603-614; 619-626) contain correspondence and documentation for Gardner-related television shows and other productions and projects. After Gardner’s death in 1970, his widow Jean Bethell Gardner continued her work as a partner in Paisano Productions along with Gail Patrick Jackson (later Velde), Cornell Jackson, John Velde Jr., and Ruth Moore. A file called the Perry Mason "Bible"(box 611) contains several texts written by Gardner describing who the character is, how he came about, and considerations for scripts.
Travel files, 1918-1969 (23 boxes).
Files documenting Gardner’s extensive travels (boxes 381-399, 510-511, 522-523) over many years focus especially on Baja California and Mexico, but also Asia, Canada, Central America, Cuba, Germany, the Philippines, the South Seas, and the United States.
Magazine files, 1908-1970 (19 boxes).
The magazine files contain correspondence documenting the process of submission and rejection or publication of Gardner articles and short stories in serial publications (boxes 437-455), such as Argosy, Black Mask, Detective Fiction Weekly, Popular Publications, Inc., Saturday Evening Post, True Police Cases Magazine, Youth’s Companion, and others.
Thayer Hobson papers, 1932-1962 (13 boxes).
Papers from Thayer Hobson (boxes 285-295), the president and chairman of the board of William Morrow and Company and a long-time associate of Gardner, include correspondence, clippings, and production materials, including original art and other items for Perry Mason comic strips, 1950-1952. See also related correspondence from William Morrow and Company, 1940-1958 (boxes 296-299).
Plot notebooks, 1926-1969 (12 boxes).
Gardner’s notebooks (boxes 101-107, 513-516) containing plot notes for his writings.
Reference files, 1932-1968 (10 boxes).
An alphabetically indexed collection of files (boxes 427-436) collected on topics of interest to Gardner on legal matters, such as forensics, but also on personal interests, such as guns and mines.
Miscellaneous legal cases, 1926-1968 (9 boxes).
A collection of files on legal cases (boxes 418-426) in which Gardner may have participated or in which he was merely interested, including files on Boston strangulation case, Brinks robbery case, Chinese cases, Alger Hiss, Sam Sheppard, and Lana Turner, for example.
Other types of materials present in the Additions include Gardner’s daybooks; character lists; genealogical materials; notebooks and notes; staff files, including interoffice correspondence, secretaries’ daybooks and shorthand notebooks; surveying notebooks; and writings by Gardner and others.
Manuscripts of about twenty works by Gardner are present, both fiction and nonfiction, including an unpublished autobiography (The Color of Life) and three posthumously published novels: The Case of the Fenced-off Woman (1972), The Case of the Postponed Murder (1973), and The Knife Slipped by A. A. Fair (2016).
Writers of other manuscript works, either about Gardner or based on his works, include Thomas Chastain, Francis L. and Roberta B. Fugate (Secrets of the World’s Best-selling Writer, 1980), Jackson Gillis, Martin H. Greenburg and Charles G. Waugh (editors of Whispering Sands, 1981; The Human Zero: The Science Fiction Stories of Erle Stanley Gardner, 1981, and Pay Dirt and other Whispering Sands Stories, 1983), Edmund Hartmann, Dorothy B. Hughes (The Case of the Real Perry Mason, 1978), Andy Lewis, William McCleery (play, A Case for Perry Mason), Ruth Moore (compiler of Gardner bibliography, 1982), Sam Rolfe, and James Stewart-Gordon.
A total of 130 boxes remain restricted by the donor: Financial papers, 1922-1970 (102 boxes: 300R-373R, 480R-507R); Morgue files, 1921-1970 (21 boxes: 456R-476R); Ranch files, 1930-1969 (5 boxes: 374R-378R); and Real estate files, 1942-1969 (2 boxes: 379R-380R).
Cataloging Notes:
The early acquisitions known as the Erle Stanley Gardner Papers (222 boxes) were described in an onsite card catalog, but are now described in an online finding aid. Gardner’s own manuscript writings make up nearly two-thirds of the Papers, accompanied by outgoing and incoming correspondence, and third-party writings and correspondence. Much of the correspondence and associated legal papers concern Gardner’s work on the Court of Last Resort project.
The subsequent Additions to the Papers were voluminous and were described only in a box-level list (boxes 1-479). Starting in 1977, new acquisitions were added in rough order of date from 1977 to 2015 (boxes 480-710). (The boxes actually total 716 due to the addition of a, b, or c to a few box numbers over the years.) In 2022, after the finding aid for the card catalog segment of the Papers was completed, the existing box-level list of Additions was revised to somewhat expand descriptions, add dates where possible, and regularize the entries in this draft finding aid. The Additions are not yet fully processed, rehoused, or described.
Because the Additions to the Papers are arranged largely in sequence of arrival, much related material is scattered throughout the 716 boxes, but several large and related groups are easily discernable. An Alphabetical Index of Boxes in this finding aid shows these major groups and also lists Gardner writings, some of which were published after his death in 1970, as well as works by others.

Container List