Preliminary Guide to the Newman Ivey White papers, 1915 - 1948


Newman Ivey White was an educator and Percy Bysshe Shelley scholar. He served as Professor of English at Trinity College and Duke University from 1919 to 1948. The papers include correspondence, lectures, research materials, including notecards, copies of letters, manuscripts, and photographs along with printed matter, miscellaneous writings, and other papers, with bulk dates of 1936-1948. Most of the material reflects his work on Shelley and the English Romantic poets; a small amount of reprints and lectures concerns folklore. Much of the correspondence is between White and other scholars of the English poets; correspondents include T. J. Wise, Frederick L. Jones, and George L. Kittredge. H.L. Mencken and George Bernard Shaw wrote to congratulate White on his publications. Several folders of correspondence with members of the publishing firm of Alfred A. Knopf regard the publication of Shelley in 1940. A letter from Duke faculty member Calvin B. Hoover describes Nazi Germany in 1932, and several of White's European correspondents comment on conditions in Europe during World War II.

Descriptive Summary

Newman Ivey White papers 1915 - 1948
White, Newman Ivey, 1892-1948.
7.9 Linear Feet , 5,500 Items
University Archives, Duke University
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult University Archives, Duke University.

Collection Overview

Correspondence, lectures, research materials, including photostatic copies of letters, manuscripts, and graphics, along with printed matter, miscellaneous writings, and other papers, with bulk dates of 1936-1948. There is little in the collection that relates to Prof. White's early career. Most of the material appears to have been collected in the course of his work on the English Romantic poets; a small amount of material, comprising reprints and lectures, concerns folklore. Much of the correspondence is between White and other students of the English poets; subjects of the letters include differing opinions and disputes over the interpretation of events in Shelley's life. Other correspondents, among them H.L. Mencken and George Bernard Shaw, congratulate White on his publications. Several folders of correspondence with members of the publishing firm of Alfred A. Knopf concern the publication of Shelley in 1940. A letter from Duke faculty member Calvin B. Hoover describes Nazi Germany in 1932, and several of White's European correspondents make comments about conditions in Europe during World War II.

Restrictions on Access & Use

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

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

Portions of these materials are restricted by donor request.

Unprocessed materials are closed pending processing.

In off-site storage; 48 hours advance notice is required for use.

Restrictions on the use of "The Book of Shelley and Mary" (Box 5) are explained at length in the folder containing Volume 1.

warning Use Restrictions

Copyright for Official University records is held by Duke University; all other copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Contents of the Collection

With a sub-series, letters received after the publication of his biography of Shelley, 1940. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. One folder of miscellaneous correspondence is filed under White, N.I. The major correspondents include Frederick L. Jones, editor of Mary Shelley's letters, Lord Abinger, the Marchesa Enrica Della Robbia, Payson G. Gates, Ellsworth Barnard, artist Mrs. W. Murray Crane, Thomas J. Wise, and members of Keats and Shelley societies. There are several folders of correspondence with people at Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. concerning publications; among these correspondents are Blanche Knopf and Sidney R. Jacobs. The publication contract is also in this file. Other correspondents include George Bernard Shaw, George L. Kittredge, Percy Long, of the Modern Language Association, H.L. Mencken, Sir John C. Shelley- Rolls, John H. Smith, and L.C. Thompson. The letters concern book reviews, and interpretations of the Romantic poets, research requests to libraries, archives, and booksellers, and include correspondence from other students of literature at institutions in the United States and in Europe. Indexes to the correspondence can be found in Box 6 and in the University Archives collection file.

Correspondence, A-M
Box 1
Correspondence, N-Z
Box 2
Correspondence received on the publication of Shelley
Box 2

Poetry, limericks, lectures, and reviews. White's Ph.D. dissertation (1 vol., bound, Shelley's Dramatic Poems. Harvard, 1918). "Adventures of a Biographer," "War Relief" (1944), "Dr. Frank C. Brown and his Collection of Folklore" (1943), "Legend and Fact in Biography" (1943), Duke limericks, book reviews, and other writings.

Miscellaneous writings
Box 2

Printed matter, n.d.

1.3 linear feet

Periodicals and reprints, including issues of the South Atlantic Quarterly, Min Y Traeth, The Lion (1829), English Studies, Studies in Philology. Reprints of articles by White and by other writers. A list of printed materials within this series can be found in the University Archives collection file.

Printed matter (periodicals and reprints)
Box 3

Photostatic copies of letters, paintings, illustrations, etc. pertaining to Shelley and to William Godwin; bibliographies on the Romantic poets; typed copies of diaries of Claire Clairmont and Jane Clairmont, Maria and John Gibson, ca. 1814-1825; page proofs and index for the Portrait of Shelley; clippings. Also in this series are four folders containing paper copies of a photostatic copy of "The Book of Shelley and Mary" , a four volume, unpublished work described by Dr. White as "the most important single source for the biography of Shelley." Use of this material is restricted.

Box 4
Box 4
Box 4
Box 4
Box 5
Box 5
Portrait of Shelley materials
Box 5
The Book of Shelley and Mary
Box 5

This correspondence index provides a record of all incoming and outgoing correspondence within the collection. Additional indexes to White's correspondence can be found in the University Archives collection file.

Correspondence index
Box 6
Resolutions relative to subscription towards the Tremandoc Embankment, May 1812

Historical Note

Educator, Shelley biographer. Professor of English, Trinity College and Duke University, 1919-1948. Author, Shelley (1940) and Portrait of Shelley (1945), and other works. B.A., M.A. Trinity College, Durham, NC, 1913, 1914. M.A., Ph.D., Harvard, 1915, 1918. Married, 1922, Marie Anne Updike. Died Cambridge, MA, December 6, 1948.

Known in his time as an eminent Shelley scholar, Newman Ivey White was born in Statesville, North Carolina on February 3, 1892. He grew up in Greensboro, where his father, James Houston White, died in 1912. White entered Trinity College in Durham in 1909, graduating magna cum laude in 1913. During his student days, he was a member of the varsity tennis team for three years; he later coached the school's teams. White entered the graduate program at Trinity, obtaining his M.A. in 1914. He then went to Harvard, where he acquired another M.A. (1915) and the Ph.D. (1918). His dissertation was on Percy Shelley's dramatic poems. While at Trinity he had served as an assistant in English and Latin; he later he filled an instructorship at Alabama Polytechnic institute (1915-1916), and taught English at Washington University in St. Louis. He returned to Trinity in 1919 as a member of the English Department. In 1922 he married Marie Anne Updike, a fellow member of the department from 1927 to 1955 who taught modern literature and drama.

Mr. and Mrs. White shared an interest in folksong, and as a scholar, Dr. White authored An Anthology of Verse by American Negroes (1924, with W.C. Jackson) and American Negro Folk Songs (1928). In 1943, he became the general editor of the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore. It was as a Shelley scholar that Dr. White was best known, however. Leaving aside scholarly articles, his first published work on the poet was an anthology, The Best of Shelley (1932). This was followed by The Unextinguished Heart: Shelley and his Contemporary Critics (1938), in which White argued that the poet was not neglected in his own time. Finally, he completed in 1940 his two-volume biography, Shelley, and followed this with a shorter popular biography, the 1945 Portrait of Shelley.

Aside from scholarship, Newman and Marie White were known for their interest in progressive causes. Professor White took an interest in election reform, and in child care facilities for working mothers. He was associated with the West Durham Nursery School (1934-1936), and later the Child Care Association, of which he was chairman and member of the board of directors (1944-1946). He was also a moving force behind the establishment of the Durham Labor and Materials Exchange (1933), a clearinghouse for information about jobs, goods and services available to Durham's unemployed. During World War II, Dr. White served on the Duke University Defense Council, and arranged for publication of articles promoting national unity in the crisis.

White was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the American Association of University Professors, the American Folklore Society, the Modern Language Association and other scholarly associations, both in the United States and in England. His service to Duke University included membership on the University Research Council and on the Executive Committee of the Friends of Duke University Library.

During the last year of his life, Newman White was engaged in doing research for a biography of William Godwin. He was at Harvard when he died suddenly on December 6, 1948. Mrs. White died in 1975, and is buried in Statesville with her husband.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Newman Ivey White Papers, Duke University Archives, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.


The Newman Ivey White papers was received by the University Archives as a gift in 1949, 1980, 1989.

Processing Information

Processed by University Archives staff, completed June 2, 1989. Correspondence and research notes were refoldered; however, original acidic paper folders have been retained, as notes on them make up an index to the correspondence. These are stored in Box 6. Deteriorated photo negatives were removed, as prints of the images exist within the papers.

Encoded by Jill Katte, June 5, 2003

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.