Carlos Fuentes and Latin American Literary Archives at Princeton

In 1995 the Princeton University Library acquired the papers of the acclaimed Mexican author Carlos Fuentes (1928–2012), whose passing on May 15 has been marked internationally by all who admired his major contributions to modern literature and his role as a cultural and political commentator on Latin America, past and present. The Carlos Fuentes Papers contain more than 125 linear feet of materials, including notebooks, manuscripts of novels and novellas, short stories, plays, screenplays, nonfiction writings, speeches, translations, correspondence, drawings, documents, photographs, magnetic media, scrapbooks, correspondence, and other research materials dating from the 1940s to 1990s. When the acquisition of the papers was first announced, the Mexican political scientist Jorge Castañeda (Class of 1973) said, “Carlos Fuentes’s correspondence, manu­scripts, and other papers read like a modern history of the region’s litera­ture, politics, and personal relationships. The author’s involve­ment in all facets of Latin American life, his friendships with political and literary figures from all over the world, his travels, and nearly a half-century of writing make his personal papers a trove of information, opinions, stories, and history for literary critics, historians, and political scien­tists of all persuasions.”

Fuentes was the author of La muerte de Artemio Cruz (1962), Aura (1962), Terra nostra (1975), and El gringo viejo (1985), as well as many other novels, plays, screen­plays, short stories, essays, criticism, and works of journalism during his long literary career. He was a leading figure in the literary “Boom” of the 1960s, when previously unknown Latin American writers began attracting inter­national audiences both in the original Spanish and in transla­tion. Well documented in his papers is the story of how Latin American literature rose from its regional roots to acquire an international status, which has been recognized in part by the conferral of five Nobel Prizes in literature since 1967. The Chilean novelist José Donoso (Class of 1951) once called Fuentes “the first active and conscious agent of the internationalization of the Spanish American novel.” Frequently honored in Latin America and the United States, Fuentes received the prestigious Miguel de Cervantes Award from King Juan Carlos of Spain in 1988. Fuentes lived in Princeton from 1979 to 1980, when he was as a Fellow in the Humanities and worked on his novel Una familia lejana (1980). Like his father Rafael Fuentes Boettiger, Carlos Fuentes was a diplomat. He served in various capacities in Mexico during the 1950s and later as ambassador to France from 1975 to 1977. He was a member of Mexico’s National Commission on Human Rights and was active in the search for peace in Central America. Politics and literature are inextricably intertwined in the life and work of Carlos Fuentes, as with so many other Latin American writers. Common themes emerging in the papers of Latin American authors since the 1960s are militarism and dicta­torship, human rights and exile, left- and right-wing politics, and historical relations with the United States.

Carlos Fuentes had been been the subject of scores of monographs and dissertations, even before his papers became available for research at Princeton. Access to his papers has permitted hundreds of Princeton-based and visiting scholars to study the evolution of particular works from concept to pub­lished book, while shedding light on the development of Fuentes’s complex narra­tive style, the influence of popular culture, the transforma­tion of prose into cinema, and other subjects. In addition to literature, major cultural and historical currents are documented in Fuentes’s extensive correspondence with leading ­authors, intellec­tuals, film direc­tors, publishers, and political figures­. Over the past fifteen years, the Carlos Fuentes Papers have been one of the most heavily used Latin American literary archives in the Manuscripts Division. Holdings have grown to more than sixty author archives and relation collections, including Reinaldo Arenas, José Bianco, Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Julio Cortázar, José Donoso, Emir Rodríguez Monegal, Alejandra Pizarnik, and Mario Vargas Llosa (Nobel Prize in Literature, 2010). The acquisition of Carlos Fuentes’s papers opened the door to the acquisition of other major Mexican author archives, such as Juan García Ponce, Elena Garro, Margo Glantz, Jorge Ibargüengoitia, Vicente Leñero, Sergio Pitol, and Alejandro Rossi. For a listing, go to  For reference assistance about Princeton’s holdings, contact

The Carlos Fuentes Papers were recently featured in Reforma. To read the article, please click here.

Carlos Fuentes, Liverpool St., Mexico City, 1967. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

From left to right: Carlos Monsiváis, José Luis Cuevas, Fernando Benítez, and Carlos Fuentes, Opera Bar, Mexico City, 1969. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Moe Berg, Class of 1923: Baseball Player, World War II Spy

The Manuscripts Division has recently received a large portion of the personal papers of Morris “Moe” Berg (1902–1972) as a gift from Dr. William Sear. Berg is best known as a Major League Baseball player who became a spy during World War II and participated in a plot that almost resulted in the assassination of the German physicist and Nobel laureate Werner Heisenberg in 1945. The Moe Berg Papers offer researchers a glimpse into his mysterious life and complex personality.

Born in Harlem to Jewish immigrants, Berg spent his childhood in the Roseville section of Newark, New Jersey. At Princeton University, Berg played shortstop on the university baseball team while studying several languages. He became captain of the baseball team his senior year, and just before he graduated magna cum laude in June 1923, he accepted an offer to play for the Brooklyn Robins (later the Brooklyn Dodgers). He went on to play catcher for four Major League teams. Between seasons, he studied at the Sorbonne and Columbia Law. As a player, Berg was better known as “Professor Moe,” the most learned man in baseball, than for his exploits on the field. The scout Mike Gonzalez coined the phrase “good field, no hit” for Berg in the early 1920s, though Berg did accompany Babe Ruth to Japan for an all-star exposition tour in 1934.

Galvanized by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Berg left baseball in January 1942 for a post under Nelson A. Rockefeller in the Office of Inter-American Affairs (OIAA), working in South America. In 1944 he was accepted into the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), where he spent the next two years reporting on scientific advancements being made by Germany and Italy.

Berg returned to the United States after the war. He drifted from place to place, ultimately living with his siblings in Newark. He never married or held another full-time job, and maintained a secretive and solitary lifestyle until his death on May 29, 1972.

The Moe Berg Papers consist of correspondence, handwritten notes, photographs, newspaper clippings, financial materials, and items about Berg collected by others. Official correspondence, which comprise the bulk of the papers, relates mainly to Berg’s time with the Office of Strategic Services. Many of the materials are carbon copies of letters and documentation sent by government pouch during World War II, as well as drafts of cables, official orders, and scientific documentation acquired for or during Berg’s many assignments. The collection includes letters from Nelson A. Rockefeller, Vannevar Bush, and General Leslie R. Groves, as well as love letters from Berg’s only known long-term romantic interest, Estella Huni.

The Papers also contain Berg’s copious notes from the 1930s through the 1960s, which range from scribbled names and dates to elaborate memoirs. Some notes relate directly to his government work; others record his social life, tracing a vast network of friends in all capacities of baseball, government and law, and society on the East Coast. Notes on linguistics and books Berg read reflect his continued interest in academic pursuits, while later notes contain autobiographical reflections.

Finally, the photographs—snapshots, professional press images, and copy prints from the 1980s—capture the events and people most commonly associated with Moe Berg: his baseball career, pre-war trips to Japan, experiences abroad during World War II, and his relationships with friends and family, including fellow baseball players Babe Ruth, “Lefty” O’Doul, Joe Cronin, and Hollis Thurston.

The Moe Berg Papers were featured in a recent article in the Princeton Alumni Weekly, and selected items are currently on display as part of the exhibition “A Fine Addi­tion: New & Notable Acqui­si­tions in Princeton’s Spe­cial Col­lec­tions” in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library. The Papers join several other Moe Berg collections at Princeton: the Moe Berg Collection (AC326) and the Dr. and Mrs. Arnold S. Breitbart Collection on Moe Berg (AC388), both at the Mudd Manuscript Library.

Berg, right, with player-manager and friend Joe Cronin in the Boston Red Sox dugout, circa 1937. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Berg poses with Allied military officials in Oslo, Norway, in June 1945. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.


Peck Shahnamah Goes Online

The Peck Shahnamah (Islamic MSS, 3rd series, no. 310), which is the finest Persian illuminated manuscript among nearly 10,000 Islamic manuscripts in the Princeton University Library, is the most recent addition to the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts. This sumptuous manuscript of the Persian national epic Shahnamah, or “Book of Kings,” was written and illuminated in Safavid Persia. From the 16th to 18th centuries, the Safavid dynastry ruled a far-flung empire that extended from Turkey to the Indian subcontinent. The Peck Shahnamah is one of the most extraordinary Safavid illuminated manuscripts of Firdawsī’s epic and has been compared to better-known examples such as the Houghton Shahnamah and Windsor Castle Shahnamah. The Persian poet Hakīm Abu’l-Qāsim Firdawsī Tūsī commonly known as Firdawsī (933/4–1025 CE) completed the epic in 1009/10. The text begins with the first legendary Persian king and ends with the fall of the Sassanian empire to the Arabs in the middle of the 7th century. Prof. Charles Melville, Pembroke College, Cambridge, who has studied the proliferation of illuminated Shahnamah manuscripts since the end of the 13th century, sees in Firdawsī’s work not just a masterpiece of Persian epic poetry, but a text that “has come to encapsulate Iran’s pride in her past and to serve as a source for understanding her political culture.”

The scribe Qiwām ibn Muḥammad of Shīrāz prepared the manuscript. The date 998 H, which he provides, corresponds to 1589/90 CE. On stylistic grounds, the paintings are also localizable to Shīrāz, an important center of manuscript production in southwestern Iran. The Peck Shahnamah has 475 paper folios and a full painting cycle of 45 full-page miniatures spread throughout the text, as well as double-page miniatures at the beginning, middle, and end of the manuscript. The miniatures are of high quality and substantial size, measuring 47.0 × 32.5 cm. The manuscript has had a distinguished provenance. From an inscription in the manuscript, we know that Khayrāt Khan, an envoy from ‘Abd Allāh Quṭbshāh to Iṣfahān, acquired it from a woman who was the daughter of the Safavid provincial ruler Khān Aḥmad Khān of Gīlān and widow of Emperor Shāh Abbās I of Persia (1571–1629), in Rajab (1040 H/1631 CE). By the 18th century, the manuscript was in England, where around 1780 it was elaborately rebound by a London bookbinder in a western-style red morocco binding. Later the manuscript was later in the collection of Sir George Holford (1860–1926). The American antiquarian bookseller and collector A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876–1952) sold the manuscript in 1946 to Clara S. Peck, an American collector and horse breeder, who lived at Winganeck Farm in Shrewsbury, Monmouth County, New Jersey. The manuscript was Clara S. Peck’s 1983 bequest to the Princeton University Library, in honor of her brother Fremont C. Peck, Class of 1920.

The miniatures in the Peck Shahnamah were initially digitized so that they could be added to the Shahnama Project website, which was created by Jerome W. Clinton (1937–2003), a professor of Persian in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton. In cooperation with the Library, digital images and descriptions of 277 miniatures from five Princeton manuscripts were added to the website. In addition to Peck, the Shahnama Project includes miniatures in four Shahnamah manuscripts (1544–1674) that were the 1942 gift of Robert Garrett (1875–1961), Class of 1897. With grant support from the J. Paul Getty Trust, Professor Clinton and the art historian Marianna Shreve Simpson began a collaborative study on the interrelationship of text and image in manuscripts of the Shahnamah. Their research paid special attention to the Peck Shahnamah. Clinton and Simpson provided some of the Getty grant funds to the Library in 2002 in order to digitize the entire manuscript, including all text folios and miniatures. Initially, the digital images were used for the research project, which was completed by Simpson after Clinton’s untimely death. However, once the Princeton Digital Library of Islamic Manuscripts was created, with the generous support of the David A. Gardner ’69 Magic Project, it became the perfect vehicle for disseminating the fully digitized manuscript. Recently uploaded, the Peck Shahnamah joins more than 200 other digitized Islamic manuscripts from the Manuscripts Division. View the Peck Shahnamah here.

For further reading on the Peck Shahnamah, see the following: (1) Louise Marlow, “A Persian Book of Kings: The Peck Shahnameh,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 46 (1985), pp. 192–214; (2) Louise Marlow, “The Peck Shahnameh: Manuscript Production in Late Sixteenth-Century Shiraz,” in Michel M. Mazzaoui and Vera B. Moreen, eds., Intellectual Studies on Islam: Essays Written in Honor of Martin B. Dickson (Salt Lake City, 1990), pp. 229–243; and (3) Jerome W. Clinton and Marianna S. Simpson, “How Rustam Killed White Div: An Interdisciplinary Inquiry,” Iranian Studies 26:2 (2006), pp. 171–197.

“Royal Hunt,” Peck Shanamah, folio 473. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Conrad Richter: A Simple Man?

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that it has received the remainder of the papers of American author Conrad Richter (1890-1968) as a bequest from the estate of his daughter, Prof. Harvena Richter, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Conrad Richter Papers [46 linear feet] have now been fully arranged and described in a finding aid.

The title of Conrad Richter’s book A Simple Honorable Man (1962) may well have been fashioned after the author’s own self image. Richter, an American novelist active during the middle decades of the twentieth century, wrote books about honest, earthy people: pioneers, settlers, cowboys, and American Indians were among his favorite subjects. The author was born in Pine Grove, PA, in 1890, the eldest son of a Pennsylvania German family, the son and grandson of Lutheran ministers. He did not go to college, nor did he wish to join the ministry. Plagued with what he referred to as “bad nerves,” the young Richter tried his hand at a number of occupations. Among them was writing, which he did assiduously, intent on providing for his wife and daughter.  By 1951 Richter had won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Town (1951), the third installment in his trilogy The Awakening Land. There were film adaptations of his novels, such as The Sea of Grass (1937), starring Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, directed by Elia Kazan.

A 1950 letter from Julian P. Boyd, Princeton University Librarian, to Alfred Knopf, Richter’s publisher, points to the beginning of Princeton’s first interest in Richter’s papers. Though Richter offered two manuscripts to Princeton as a gift, Boyd writes in his letter to Knopf, “I intend to have [Richter’s] manuscripts handsomely done up in slip cases – something like the way in which Dreiser’s Sister Carrie is cared for by the New York Public Library” [“Letter to Alfred Knopf,” May 23, 1950, Conrad Richter Papers, Box 38, Folder 5, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library]. Over the next few months Boyd and Richter corresponded, conversing amiably about Firestone Library, which had opened in 1949. In an acknowledgement letter (July 10, 1950), Boyd thanks Richter for his gift to the library.

Over the next 60 years, Princeton continued to receive gifts from the Richter family of the author’s papers and manuscripts, which included sizeable correspondence files, photographs, and manuscripts. Among the most valuable research materials in Richter’s papers are the author’s journals and notebooks, beginning in the 1920s and kept throughout his life; and correspondence with his publisher, Alfred and Blanche Knopf; and with his literary agent, Paul Reynolds. In various places the Richter Papers reveal a slightly more nuanced individual than “a simple, honorable man” might indicate; correspondence with psychologists, psychics, and sleep specialists indicate Richter’s preoccupation, or at the very least interest, with the metaphysical, and a personal letter from J. Edgar Hoover also gives pause.  Now available, the collection gives researchers the opportunity to rediscover and learn more about this thoroughly American novelist.

Conrad Richter as a cowboy, circa 1940. Box 99, Folder 4. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.


Conrad Richter: A Simple Honorable Man, circa 1962. Box 99, Folder 5. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.

Stanley Kunitz: A Poet’s Life

“My dismay at the clutter on my desk is offset by my zest for the hunt among my papers.  At an age when I should be putting my house in order, I keep accumulating bits of information, not for any particular reason and in spite of the absurdity, because I was born curious and don’t know how to stop.”

Stanley Kunitz, “Seedcorn and Windfall” from Next to Last Things: New Poems and Essays (1985)

Born curious, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Stanley Kunitz [1905-2005] lived a long and varied life.  Beyond the critical acclaim he gained for his poetry, Kunitz and his wife, the painter and poet Elise Asher, were friends to many of the 20th century’s cultural giants: painters like Mark Rothko, Philip Guston, and Robert Motherwell; and poets like Robert “Cal” Lowell, Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop.  The couple split their time between their Greenwich Village apartment and Provincetown, MA, where Kunitz raised a seaside garden, and they traveled extensively.

A restless spirit, Kunitz helped found the Fine Arts Work Center, an artist-residency program in Provincetown, and Poets House in New York City, two organizations that would help support generations of younger poets.   By the time Princeton University’s Rare Books and Special Collections acquired Mr. Kunitz’s papers, the aging poet had indeed amassed a certain amount, as he wrote, of clutter.  Clutter – perhaps – but it was good clutter, constituting a trove of research material for literary scholars and art historians alike.  Available for research, the Stanley Kunitz Papers offers a complete finding aid, documenting the life and work of one of the United States’ most prominent poets.

In Stanley Kunitz’s own words, “it was not an auspicious beginning.” [“My Mother’s Story,” TMs, Box 147 Folder 11]   Bereft of a father and the only son of an Eastern European immigrant mother, Stanley Kunitz grew up in Worcester, MA, where he spent a good deal of time out of doors.  At an early age Kunitz became enthralled with the natural world, a theme that is recurrent in his poems, such as this one, “The Testing Tree”:

Once I owned the key
To an umbrageous trail
Thickened with mosses
Where flickering presences
Gave me right of passage […]

His fascination with comets, insects, whales, birds, raccoons, and the ways of plants and flowers informs his most enduring poems.  While Kunitz did explore political and social themes throughout his work, the notes, subject files and clippings in the Stanley Kunitz Papers confirm his abiding passion for the natural world.  Equally at home in the flower bed and at the typewriter, his last book, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden (2005) examines the synthesis of these two vocations.  Manuscripts of this book and others demonstrate Kunitz’s deliberate and sustained writing practice, no doubt informed by the patience, persistence, and an eye to detail refined by a lifetime working the garden.

Beyond the manuscripts, the Papers give access to reams of correspondence between Kunitz and the literati and glitterati of the 20th century; fan letters spanning five decades; the peace-loving poet’s military discharge papers and his father’s death certificate; drawings sent to him from his poet friends; poems written by his artist friends.  Many items invite investigation, such as the Russian translations, some of which remain unpublished; Elise Asher’s recipe for Cream of Sorrel Soup;the unidentified correspondence; and fragments of possibly unpublished poems.

Among the most tantalizing materials are the photographs [Box 183].  Whether pictured with fellow poets, Jorge Luis Borges at Columbia University, or deep in conversation with Mark Rothko, the photographs testify to Kunitz’s active engagement in the world of arts and letters.  As a poet among painters, Kunitz gained entrée into some of the most legendary cultural scenes of the 20th century, like “The Club,” which Kunitz characterized as “the stormy social and debating society of the New York School” [“Giorgio Cavallon 1904-1989,” Box 146, Folder 10].  The combination of Kunitz’s own intellectual achievement and his personal friendships makes the Stanley Kunitz Papers a valuable resource for researchers across the humanistic disciplines.

Mark Rothko and Stanley Kunitz, undated. Box 183, Folder 17. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.

Front row (L to R): John Berryman, Adrienne Rich, Josephine Jacobsen and James Merrill; Back row (L to R): Kunitz, Richard Eberhart, Robert Lowell, Richard Wilbur, William Meredith (Class of 1940) and Robert Penn Warren. Box 183, Folder 7. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.

George Cruikshank’s Pop-gun

George Cruikshank (1792–1878) was one of the most inventive and talented graphic satirists of his time. As a boy in London, he learned printmaking from his father, Isaac Cruikshank; after Isaac died in 1811, the family was supported entirely by George’s drawings. His political and social caricatures entertained and piqued the British public, and when he died, he was one of England’s best known and most prolific artists, having designed as many as twelve thousand prints.

The Princeton University Library’s George Cruikshank Collection consists of 35 boxes of Cruikshank’s personal papers, correspondence, and original drawings, including some two dozen bound sketch books. The most recent addition to the collection is a manuscript in Cruikshank’s hand, heavily corrected and signed by him in six places. The manuscript is a draft of a pamphlet Cruikshank would publish in 1860 titled A Pop-gun Fired Off by George Cruikshank: In Defence of the British Volunteers of 1803, expressing support for civilian volunteers in the face of a French invasion of Great Britain. The manuscript includes nineteen colored and pen-and-ink sketches, which differ from those published in A Pop-gun.

In A Pop-gun, Cruikshank recalls his first participation in a volunteer militia at age 11. When Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821) declared war on Britain in 1803, George Cruikshank’s father Isaac joined a volunteer troop while George and his brother drilled with toy weapons. The manuscript draft offers further details: “In our Bloomsbury corp,” he writes, “we had to find our own uniforms with the help of the mamas—and our own arms and accoutrements—my Brother made himself a pasteboard cocked hat and a youth who was apprenticed to a coach builder made him a saber of wood…and I had a pasteboard cap and the Regiment having punched some small gun stocks, we had moss sticks—or Broom handles—fixed in these, and Black leaded to imitate the polished steel.” His training as a boy, he argued in A Pop-gun, prepared him well to bear arms as an adult in defense of his country. At the bottom of this manuscript page, Cruikshank has included a colored sketch of soldiers in uniform.

The manuscript is accompanied by a scrap of paper in Cruikshank’s hand containing military maneuvers and diagrams, tipped into a booklet titled Our Rifle Volunteers, Sketched by “Quiz.” The booklet is an illustrated verse satire on the volunteer militia that also focuses on the volunteers’ attire, but to very different effect. On one page, the verse “Now don’t make a fool of yourself, strutting there,/With the limbs of an ape, and the head of a bear” is illustrated with a drawing of an artillery volunteer wearing a large, furry hat and a comical expression. If the author of this work was not Cruikshank, it may have been Edward Caswall (1814–1878), a Roman Catholic priest who also wrote humorous and satirical poetry under the pseudonym Scriblerus Redivivus. Cruikshank may have owned this booklet and used it for reference.

In 1859, British volunteer troops were formed again under the threat of another French invasion. Cruikshank joined the 48th Middlesex corps, eventually becoming its commanding officer; the George Cruikshank Collection contains other materials related to his career in the Middlesex corps. The collection complements the Graphic Arts Division’s holdings of over six hundred Cruikshank prints.

Additionally, scattered throughout the Manuscripts Department’s holdings is a wealth of works of art on paper by many British artists and illustrators, most of whom have a literary association: for example, George Du Maurier, Thomas Rowlandson, and J.M. Barrie. Worthy of special mention is the renowned Gallatin-Beardsley Collection, which includes 130 drawings by Aubrey Beardsley, collected by the American artist A.E. Gallatin, along with a rich archive of manuscripts, correspondence, posters, illustrated books, and other materials by or related to the 1890s English artist. The Department also holds artwork by other members of the Pre-Raphaelite circle: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ruskin, John Everett Millais, Simeon Solomon, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Max Beerbohm, and Gwen John, whose watercolors were recently discovered in the Arthur Symons Papers.

George Cruikshank, undated manuscript draft of A Pop-gun. Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.
















Our Rifle Volunteers, sketched by "Quiz." Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.


Douglas Kent Hall Papers

The Princeton University Library is pleased to announce that the Douglas Kent Hall Papers, a generous gift from Dawn Hall in 2010, have been arranged and described in a detailed finding aid and are now open and available to researchers. The papers comprise more than 100 boxes of correspondence, manuscripts, notes, research files, and audio and visual materials, documenting approximately fifty years of Douglas Kent Hall’s work as a writer and photographer.

Douglas Kent Hall (1938–2008) was born in Vernal, Utah, a rural community approximately two hundred miles from Salt Lake City. He attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, coupling his interests in creative writing and photography for a lifetime of documentary and artistic photography across the world. Hall traveled through Europe in 1968 and settled in New York City in 1971, where he had his first photography exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1974. In 1977, he moved to New Mexico. The American southwest and border region would influence the next thirty years of his work, resulting in at least ten major publications and projects from the 1980s through the 2000s.

The creative bulk of the papers consists of at least 96,000 unique photographic images in the form of black-and-white negatives, contact sheets, color transparencies, and prints spanning Hall’s forty years of work as a photographer. Major subjects include rock and roll stars from the 1960s and early 1970s (including Jimi Hendrix and The Who), the American southwest (including rodeos, mission churches, border residents, and Native dances), poets and artists (including Mark Strand, Allen Ginsberg, and W. S. Merwin), and photographic studies of subcultures including bodybuilding (with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Lou Ferrigno), prison life, drag racing, dance, and cowboy lifestyles. Locations photographed include the U.S.-Mexico border, the American West, New Mexico, New York City, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia. The photographs are accompanied by manuscripts, notes, research files, and correspondence related to their production.

Hall also wrote an Academy Award-winning documentary about rodeo (his longtime interest), and published four novels and over fifteen photography books on subjects ranging from body building (with Arnold Schwarzenegger) to the Native American weaving traditions of New Mexico. His novels were often autobiographical, centering around his rural Mormon-influenced childhood, while his photography books explored subcultures he discovered as an adult, such as rock and roll, bodybuilding, and prison life. The papers include drafts of major publications, including his first novel On the Way to the Sky (1972) and Let ‘Er Buck (1973), as well as the interviews and research behind the documentary The Great American Cowboy and extensive unpublished drafts and related materials. Other writings include books, plays, autobiographical short stories, essays, freelance articles and reviews, unpublished poetry, teleplays, and unproduced screenplays from his time as a student up until his death.

The Douglas Kent Hall Papers are a valued addition to Princeton’s extensive holdings of Western Americana, including manuscripts, archives, historical photographs, printed books, maps, and other materials. These include Daniel Gano’s Gold Rush Scrapbook and other overland travel narratives, the Western Americana Photograph Collection, photographs of Native American Indians from the Geological and Geographical Survey of the Territories by William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) and others, and the Sheldon Jackson Collection of Indian Photographs.

The Seeley G. Mudd Library, part of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, has 11 boxes of photographs in the Association on American Indian Affairs Records and a series of private papers concerning the crusade to return Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo. For printed books, including those in the Philip Ashton Rollins Collection and J. Monroe Thorington Collection, please contact the Rare Books Division. For maps, please contact John Delaney, Curator of Historic Maps, at

Douglas Kent Hall, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Wyeth, undated. Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.


Douglas Kent Hall, Black Mesa, undated. Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.



Sir Frank Kermode Papers

The Princeton University Library has recently acquired 19 boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, audiovisual materials, and ephemera of Sir Frank Kermode (1919–2010), one of the most distinguished literary critics of the 20th century. These materials constitute Kermode’s remaining papers and have been added to the Sir Frank Kermode Papers, which the Library began acquiring in 2007 with support from the Friends of the Princeton University Library. For a summary of and highlights from the original acquisition in 2007, click here.

Kermode is well known for his seminal book of literary criticism, Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction (1967), as well as his writings on William Shakespeare and D. H. Lawrence. Extensive drafts of these works, with autograph corrections, are represented in this latest addition, which includes early drafts of Sense of an Ending, a typed manuscript draft of D. H. Lawrence (1973), and correspondence, handwritten notes, sheet music, and galley proofs for his Arden Shakespeare edition of The Tempest (1954). The addition also contains a bound carbon typescript of Aaron Hill and his Plays (1940), which Kermode called his first book, as well as several boxes of unpublished lectures and research notes and over two dozen unpublished notebooks.

The acquisition enhances the Library’s holdings of literary critics’ papers and publishers’ archives. Several dozen letters from Kermode appear in the papers of poet and literary critic Allen Tate (1899–1979), who also corresponded at length with Cleanth Brooks (1906–1994), Malcolm Cowley (1898–1989), and Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989). The Library has the papers of (and copyright to) R. P. Blackmur (1904-1965), another prominent literary critic who was a professor of English and Creative Writing at Princeton from 1940 to 1965. His papers include drafts of his creative work and critical essays, lecture notes, correspondence with other American literary figures, notebooks, and photographs.

The archives of The Hudson Review, a literary magazine that has published some the most eminent writers and critics of the twentieth century, contains correspondence with Erich Auerbach (1892–1957), Harold Bloom, Northrop Frye (1912–1991), Frederic Jameson, Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980), Edward Said (1935–2003), and others, while the archives of the literary magazine Quarterly Review of Literature includes correspondence with critics such as Kenneth Burke (1897–1993), Lionel Trilling (1905–1975), and W. K. Wimsatt (1907–1975), as well as an unpublished essay by Paul de Man (1919–1983) on the Romantic poet Friedrich Hölderlin (1770–1843).

The Library also holds papers of 19th- and 20th-century British literary and art critics, including Raymond Mortimer (1895–1980), William Michael Rossetti (1829–1919), John Ruskin (1819–1900), and Arthur Symons (1865–1945).

Sir Frank Kermode, undated photograph (detail). Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be reproduced without the permission of the Princeton University Library.

Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway

The Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway is now open and available to researchers.

The Manuscripts Division recently received a gift of five boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, stenographer’s notebooks, photographs, and nautical charts from Walter Houk. The papers document the friendship between Walter and his wife Juanita Jensen Houk and the Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) in Havana, Cuba, where Hemingway was writing his last major works, Across the River and into the Trees (1950) and The Old Man and the Sea (1952).

Juanita Jensen Houk, an employee of the American Embassy in Havana, received government clearance to work as Ernest Hemingway’s secretary from 1949 to 1952. In 1952, she married Walter Houk, a diplomatic officer at the Embassy. Their wedding reception was held at Finca Vigía, the Hemingways’ house near Havana. The couple were frequent visitors at the finca, where they used the library, swam in the pool, went fishing on Hemingway’s boat Pilar, and drank daiquiris with him at the Floridita bar.

The collection offers a multifaceted view of the author during a particularly prolific and creative period. Juanita Jensen Houk’s stenographer’s notebooks, with typed transcriptions, of over a hundred of Hemingway’s dictated letters include letters not only to his friends and family but also to publishers and agents. He reported on his book’s progress to Charles Scribner and wrote to A. E. Hotchner about serializing Across the River and into the Trees in the magazine Cosmopolitan. In letters to Malcolm Cowley, he discussed fellow authors such as Saul Bellow, Truman Capote, Gertrude Stein, and Eudora Welty. In addition, the collection contains the Houks’ own correspondence with the Hemingways, including nine letters by Ernest Hemingway and fourteen by his wife Mary, photographs of the Hemingways and Houks on the Pilar, and Walter Houk’s manuscript memoirs about Hemingway and Havana.

Walter Houk’s reminiscences of his friendship with Hemingway during the Havana years form key parts of Paul Hendrickson’s new biography, Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961 (Knopf, 2011). The book reassesses Hemingway’s creative life and personal relationships through his attachment to his cherished boat Pilar. According to Hendrickson, “The archive where I have spent the most time in these last seven or so years of research and writing is Firestone Library at Princeton. The university is an hour and ten minutes from my front door; the car knows the way.” He calls the Princeton University Library’s Archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, which con­tains some 2,000 pieces of cor­re­spon­dence between Hem­ing­way and his edi­tors, and the Car­los Baker Col­lec­tion of Ernest Hem­ing­way “my centripetal research force. Nearly all the letters I quote from or make reference to in this book I have sat and held and read in the chapel-like Dulles Reading Room at Firestone.”

The Walter Houk Collection is a robust addition to the Library’s Hemingway materials. Other related collections include the Ernest Hemingway Collection, Hemingway/Lanham Correspondence, Patrick Hemingway Papers, Farrar & Rinehart, Inc., Files of Hemingway and Pound, Ernest Hemingway Documents and Tax-related Papers, and Ernest Hemingway and Milford J. Baker Correspondence.

Walter Houk, Ernest Hemingway on the flying bridge of the Pilar, 1951. Man­u­scripts Divi­sion, Depart­ment of Rare Books and Spe­cial Col­lec­tions, Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library. Not to be repro­duced with­out the per­mis­sion of the Prince­ton Uni­ver­sity Library.

A Gatsby Visit

One of the highlights of the summer of 2011 was a visit to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections on June 28 by Australian movie director Baz Luhrmann and members of his production team. Their visit to Princeton was in connection with production of a new movie version of The Great Gatsby. Don Skemer, curator of manuscripts, showed Luhrmann and the others F. Scott Fitzgerald’s heavily corrected galleys of Trimalchio, an early version of The Great Gatsby. In the photograph below, Luhrmann is in the foreground. The galleys are part of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers, which the author’s daughter Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan donated to the Princeton University Library in 1950. Skemer explained how Fitzgerald’s creative process can be traced in his own papers and related materials preserved in the Manuscripts Division. Particularly revealing is the author’s extensive correspondence with the legendary literary editor Maxwell Perkins at Charles Scribner’s Sons, Fitzgerald’s publisher. After the visit, Luhrmann wrote to Skemer to say, “Having returned from our trip to Princeton, I just wanted to reach out and thank you once again. Seeing those materials and hearing you articulate Fitzgerald’s processes really gave us a second burst of energy.” The British actress Carey Mulligan, who will play Daisy Buchanan in the movie, also visited to view portions of the Fitzgerald Papers and in particular to discuss the author’s relationship with Ginevra King, who served as a model for Daisy, Jay Gatsby’s lost love. Ginevra King’s letters to Fitzgerald and diary are also preserved in the Manuscripts Division. Mulligan, who earned an Oscar nomination for best actress in 2010, told the Huffington Post: “I went to Princeton where they keep all [Fitzgerald’s] papers and I got to look at Zelda Fitzgerald’s medical records and . . . the most amazing stuff.” Filming has begun in Sydney, Australia, with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Jay Gatsby and Tobey Maguire as Nick Caraway. Luhrmann’s new movie of The Great Gatsby is scheduled for a New York premiere in December 2012.

Baz Luhrmann, right, examines F. Scott Fitzgerald's papers. Not to be reproduced without permission of the Princeton University Library.