Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The McKay mss., 1919-1948 and 1968, consist principally of the correspondence of Claude McKay, 1890-1948, poet and Max Eastman, 1883-1969, author. The letters begin in 1919 shortly after their first meeting at Croton-on-the-Hudson, New York. They continue from abroad at Petrograd, Moscow, Avignon, Berlin, Barcelona, and during a nearly four year sojourn in Tangier, Morocco. Upon his return to the United States in 1934 he became interested in starting a new periodical of African affairs called Bambara. But shortly thereafter he spent a few months at Camp Greymont in New York, a work relief camp. He continued to write, to endeavor to have his writings published, to struggle with privation and ill-health, and to recall the days when he served as an editor on The Liberator. In 1944 he became a consultant on communism and the Negro and on the Russian Revolution to the Catholic Youth Organization in Chicago, Illinois. The following October he was baptized into the faith of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1946 McKay went to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for his health. A telegram in 1948 from friend Selma Burke announcing his funeral arrangements and a letter of 1968 from literary agent Carl Cowl both refer to McKay's daughter, Mrs. Hope (McKay) Virtue.

The correspondents are Donald Clifford Brace, Selma Burke, Grace Campbell, Carl Cowl, Max Eastman, Gustave Lippman, Claude McKay, Charles F. Paterno, John J. Trounstine, Oswald Garrison Villard, and Vivian Lancaster Virtue.

Included are receipts for money forwarded to Claude McKay by Eastman, printed material by and about McKay, and snapshots of McKay's tombstone, Hope (McKay) Virtue, and Carl Cowl.

Collection size: 103 items

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.