Menu

Guide to the Walter Blair papers, 1933-1987 and undated

Abstract

Walter Blair (1900-1992) was a professor at the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1968 and a specialist in American folklore and humor.

Collection contains early drafts, edited manuscripts, and proofs of Blair's publications, as well as bibliographic information and correspondence regarding publication of materials and other professional services. The bulk of the material is comprised of draft manuscripts of his work which he wrote with Hamlin Hill (Texas A&M), America's Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury (Oxford, 1978). There is also a smaller amount of other materials such as correspondence and reviews related to other publications, including Native American Humor: 1800-1900 (1937), Horse Sense in American Humor (1942), Tall Tale America: A Legendary History of Our Humorous Heroes (1944), Half-Horse Half-Alligator: The Growth of the Mike Fink Legend (1956), and Mark Twain and Huck Finn (1960). Forms part of the Jay B. Hubbell Center for Literary Historiography.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Blair, Walter, 1900-
Title
Walter Blair papers 1933-1987 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
3.0 Linear Feet, Approx. 1350 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

This collection contains early drafts, edited manuscripts, and master proofs of Blair's publications, including American Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury (co-authored with Hamlin Hill of Texas A&M, Oxford, 1978), which makes up the bulk of the Writings Series, as well as manuscripts of, reviews of, and correspondence regarding his earlier publications, including Half Horse Half Alligator, Horse Sense in American Humor, Mark Twain and Huck Finn, and Mike Fink: King of the Mississippi Keelboatmen. The collection also contains several reviews of Blair's publications. Biographical information and related materials, including newspaper clippings, magazine articles and newsletters regarding Walter Blair, and various professional correspondence comprises the remainder of the collection. Among the biographical information is a series of humorous Christmas cards that Blair circulated among his acquaintances, as well as a special issue of Studies in American Humor in honor of Blair. The bulk of the correspondence is comprised of letters to and from various university presses regarding publication of Blair's manuscripts, and letters to colleagues at various universities also regarding his manuscripts and other professional services.

Forms part of the Jay B. Hubbell Center for Literary Historiography.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Contains various newspaper clippings, magazine articles and newsletters concerning Walter Blair, including a special issue of Studies in American Humor in Blair's honor. Also contains an entry on Blair in Who's Who and a series of cartoons and Christmas cards he circulated among his acquaintances.

Articles, magazines, and newsletters, 1942-1986
Box 1
Christmas cards, undated
Box 1
Studies in American Humor: Special Issue in Honor of Walter Blair, 1975 Apr.
Box 1
Who's Who entries, 1980-1981
Box 1

Contains primarily professional correspondence with various presses regarding publication and with colleagues at various universities regarding professional services.

Correspondence, 1974
Box 1
Correspondence, 1975
Box 1
Correspondence, 1976
Box 1
Correspondence, 1977
Box 1
Correspondence, 1981-1987
Box 1

Contains early drafts and master proof manuscripts of Blair's writing. Drafts of chapters for America's Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury makes up the bulk of the material in this series, but the series also includes drafts of Blair's earlier publications. In addition, the series includes correspondence regarding publication of these materials.

Preliminary pages and index, 1978
Box 1
Outlines, blurbs, chronology, 1978
Box 1
Early draft: "No End of Jokes," undated
Box 1
Early draft: "Franklin," 1975
Box 1
Early draft: "John Wesley Jarvis," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Tall Tales and a Tough Demigod," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Davy Crockett and Mose the Fireb'hoy," undated
Box 2
First draft: "The Big Bear of Arkansas," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Tall Tales and Go West," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Twilight of the Comic Demigod," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Local Colorists and Phunny Phellows," undated
Box 2
Early draft: "Mark Twain," undated
Box 2
Early drafts: "Mass Production Comic Demigod"; "The Lunatic Fringe: James Thruber," "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," undated
Box 2
Early drafts: "Humor in Fiction"; "Great American Novel"; Afterword, undated
Box 2
Part 1, Starters: "No End of Jokes," undated
Box 2
Part 1, Starters: "A Harmonious Human Multitude," undated
Box 2
Part 1, Starters: "Cast Typing," undated
Box 2
Part 2, The Golden Age of American Humor: "A National Phenomenon: The Reputables," undated
Box 2
Part 2, The Golden Age of American Humor: "Subversives"; "Two Masterpieces"; "Tall Tales Go West," undated
Box 2
Part 3, And the War Came: "Changes in Jokelore"; "Phunny Phellows," undated
Box 3
Part 4, Mark Twain: "Mark Twain's Chestnuts"; "Mark Twain Pioneers," undated
Box 3
Part 5, Into the Twentieth Century: "The Turn of the Century: Between World Wars," undated
Box 3
Part 5, Into the Twentieth Century: "Modern Humor," undated
Box 3
Part 5, Into the Twentieth Century: Afterward, References, undated
Box 3
Correspondence, 1971-1980
Box 3
Illustrations, 1668-1977
Box 3
Reviews, 1978-1980
Box 3
America's Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury, Master proof, undated
(3 folders)
Box 4
Master proof: index, undated
Box 5
Half Horse Half Alligator, reviews, 1956-1958
Box 5
Horse Sense in American Humor, reviews, 1942-1943
Box 5
Mark Twain and "Huck Finn", correspondence, 1958-1960
Box 5
Mike Fink: King of the Mississippi Keelboatmen, reviews, 1933-1936
Box 5
Native American Humor, reviews, 1937
Box 5
Tall Tale America, correspondence, 1943-1944
Box 5
Tall Tale America, reviews, 1944-1945
Box 5

Historical Note

Walter Blair (1900-1992) was a professor at the University of Chicago from 1929 to 1968. His research focused on American folklore, humor, and tall tales, and he is considered a pioneer in the field of American humor studies. Blair graduated from Yale University in 1923 and received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Chicago in 1931. He served as chair of his department from 1951-1960 and won the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Mark Twain Circle in 1992, as well as the Jay Hubbell Award from the American Literature Section of MLA. He was the author of many publications, including Native American Humor: 1800-1900 (1937), Horse Sense in American Humor (1942); Tall Tale America: A Legendary History of Our Humorous Heroes (1944); Half-Horse Half-Alligator: The Growth of the Mike Fink Legend (1956); Mark Twain and Huck Finn (1960); and American Humor from Poor Richard to Doonesbury (co-author with Hamlin Hill, Oxford, 1978).

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Walter Blair Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Provenance

The Walter Blair papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 1980-1981.

Processing Information

Processed by Clare Callahan, June 2013

Encoded by Clare Callahan, June 2013

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 1980-1981

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.