Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Dreiser mss. II, consist of manuscripts and realia of Theodore Dreiser, 1871-1945. Dreiser was born the twelfth of thirteen children in Terre Haute, IN and attended Indiana University in Bloomington briefly before dropping out in 1890. He married Sara White in 1898, and they separated in 1909 although never formally divorced. Dreiser became a renowned author of literary naturalism (other American writers in the movement included Jack London, Edith Wharton, Frank Norris, and Stephen Crane). His best known novels are Sister Carrie (although a commercial failure at the time in 1900), Jeannie Gerhardt (1911), and An American Tragedy (1925). Politically, Dreiser was involved in socialist causes and wrote a non-fiction book, Dreiser Looks at Russia (1928), based on his experiences visiting the Soviet Union. He did not officially join the American Communist Party until shortly before his death in 1945.

Correspondence consists of two groups: letters (1896-1898) from Theodore Dreiser to Sara Osborne (White) Dreiser; and correspondence (1907-1910) of Dreiser as editor of the Delineator. Included also are a letter to Mrs. Dreiser from J.E. Kelly, dated September 18, 1900, and a birthday card from Mrs. Dreiser, August 27, 1904.

Correspondents include: Charles Wayland Bryan; William Jennings Bryan; John O' Hara Cosgrave; Charles Samuel Deneen; George W. Donaghey; Bert Manfred Fernald; Homer Folks; Elmer Gates; John Mark Glenn; Charles Archibald Goodwin; Louise (Closser) Hale; Clara Morris Harriott; Hastings Hornell Hart; Leonard Keene Hirshberg; William Martin Johnson; James Edward Kelly; Mary Holland (McNeish) Kinkaid; William Walton Kitchen; Clare Rodman (Beecher) Kummer; Robert Todd Lincoln; Benjamin Barr Lindsey; William John Locke; Jack London; Harris Merton Lyon; Charles Thomas Agnew MacLean; Seumas MacManus; Thomas Riley Marshall; Edwin Lee Norris; Mary Eleanor O' Donnell; William Church Osborn; John M. Oskison; Frederick Palmer; Grant Richards; Theodore Roosevelt; Hannah (Kent) Schoff; John Franklin Shafroth; James Edward West; Ella (Wheeler) Wilcox; George Warren Wilder; Augustus Everett Willson; Louis N. Wilson; Woodrow Wilson; Charles Erskine Scott Wood; and Eugene Wood.

Other materials in the collection are pen and pencil sketches of Dreiser signed by James Edward Kelly, Edward Martin Taber, and Maud Stumm; a pen sketch of Edmund Clarence Stedman by Kelly; two pencil sketches of William Louis Sonntag by himself; and photographs of Dreiser, Sara Osborne (White) Dreiser; John Paul Dreiser, father of Theodore Dreiser, and others. Printed material includes clippings of poems and articles by or relating to Dreiser from newspapers and periodicals.

An inventory and a finding aid are available.

Gift. Mrs. Leo J. Vogt, Webster Groves, Missouri. 1957, 1963

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.