Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Mystery Writers of America mss., ca. 1946–2002, consist of the papers of the Mystery Writers of America, Inc., the leading association for professional crime writers in the United States. Mystery Writers of America (MWA) was established in 1945 for the "purpose of promoting and protecting the interest and welfare of mystery writers and to increase the esteem and literary recognition given to the genre." Early organizers and members included: Howard Haycraft, Erle Stanley Gardener, Dorothy B. Hughes, Anthony Boucher, Rex Stout, Stuart Palmer, the Q. Patrick team, Fred Dannay and Manfred Lee (Ellery Queen), Helen Reilly, Octavus Roy Cohen, Leo Zagat, Roger Torrey, Kurt Steele, and the Lockridges. The MWA has preserved the historical memory of the American mystery, procuring and storing in its library important documents and markers of the passing years and the changes within the profession. Each spring, the MWA sponsors the Edgar Awards Dinner and Symposium, named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe who is considered to be "The Father of the Detective Story." The award is widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious award in the genre.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Administrative; II. Correspondence; III. Events; IV. Printed Material; V. Writings; VI. Regional Chapters; VII. Subject Files; VIII. Legal; IX. Financial; X. Photographs; XI. Audio-Visual.

Administrative files include meeting minutes, committee records, and membership lists. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent or topic and includes letters from Herbert Brean, Jan Broberg, Odessa May Cropper, Derek Gardner, James D. Horan, Donald MacCampbell, Maurice Renault, Lewis Thompson, Hillary Waugh, Peter Williams, and Barry Zemen. The Events series includes materials from the annual Bouchercon conference, the International Crime Congress, and the Edgar Awards Dinner. Printed Material features magazines and newsletters such as Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen, Mystery Scene, Mystery Writers Annual, and The Third Degree. Writings contain drafts, proofs, and shelf copies of various works, including several published by Mystery Writers of America Anthology. Regional Chapters contain records from national chapters of Mystery Writers of America ranging from New York to California. Subject Files are listed alphabetically and include materials pertaining to Raymond Chandler and Clarice Welch. The Legal series includes records pertaining to censorship and copyright law. Financial records include bills, financial reports, and cash receipt journals. Photographs include images from the annual Edgar Awards Dinner, while other Audio-Visual materials include various audio recordings and videocassettes.

Acquired: 2009

Collection size: 28,800 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.