Hamlin Garland Papers: Collection Highlights from USC Libraries Special Collections

Posted by Bo Doub

Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who once held the title of “Dean of American Letters” and counted many of the prominent literary figures of his time as friends. Following Garland’s death in 1940, his personal library and papers came to the USC Libraries, forming the cornerstone of the Libraries’ American Literature Collection.

The Hamlin Garland papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, photographs, and memorabilia, by and about the American realist writer. The collection holds close to 10,000 of Garland’s letters, which are now digitized and available for online public access via the USC Digital Library. Garland’s literary notebooks and manuscripts--with the author’s revisions--are also included, documenting the early working stages of Garland’s autobiographies and memoirs, fiction, plays, poetry, published articles, and lectures. The Garland papers also contain the typescripts, notebooks, interview transcripts, correspondence, and research material created by Garland for his biography of Ulysses S. Grant published in 1898. Lastly, the collection holds hundreds of the Garland family’s photographs and memorabilia dating as early as the 1850s.

Among the items currently on display are letters and signed portraits to Garland from J. M. Barrie, George Bernard Shaw, Edith Wharton, and Walt Whitman. Also included are photographs documenting his 1898 travels through the Klondike region of northwestern Canada during the Alaska Gold Rush. Constance Garland (Hamlin’s youngest daughter) illustrated many of her father’s works and designed the bookplate that would be stamped inside each of the books in the Garland family’s extensive library. The original bookplate engraved by Constance, along with samples of her drawings for her father’s stories, are also on display. Finally, two of the subjects that Garland researched and wrote about extensively: Ulysses S. Grant and psychical investigations (paranormal events and individuals claiming to be psychics), are also currently featured in the Special Collections display case.

The Hamlin Garland exhibit will be on display in Doheny Library in Special Collections on the second floor until July 31st.