Guide to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers, 1801-1988
Gay Wailson Allen (1903-1995) was a university professor, author, and Walt Whitman scholar. Collection consists of correspondence, notebooks, printed material, essays, and other writings, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, teaching materials, pictures, books, clippings, offprints, periodicals, and sale catalogs. The focus of the collection is Allen's career as an university professor and Walt Whitman scholar. In particular Allen's activities as a professor at New York University and as a lecturer at Nagono, Japan in 1955, are documented. The history of Whitman criticism is an important theme. There is a large amount of research material on Whitman, both of Allen and other literary scholars. These include Evie Allison Allen, Clara Barrus, Charles N. Elliot, Clifton Joseph Furness, Emory Holloway, Peter Mitilineos, Hans Reisiger, and Henry Scholey Saunders. The Correspondence Series contains original correspondence acquired by Allen of Richard Watson Gilder, Alice James, and William James. This series also contains the correspondence of Roger Asselineau, Fredson Bowers, Oscar Cargill, Malcolm Cowley, Charles E. Feinberg, Milton Hindus, Emory Holloway, Sholom Kahn, and Frederik Schyberg. There are no strictly personal papers in the collection.
- Collection Number
- Gay Wilson Allen papers
- Allen, Gay Wilson, 1903-1995
- 33 Linear Feet, 5,500 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Correspondence Series, 1878-1985 and undated (bulk 1925-late 1970s)
- Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series, 1855-1945 and undated
- Printed Material and Literary Manuscripts Series, 1865-1988 and undated
- Scrapbooks, 1950-1960 (bulk 1955-1959).
- Teaching materials, 1943-1979 and undated
- Walt Whitman Materials Series, 1827-1988 and undated
- Walt Whitman Scholars Series, 1880-1975 and undated
- Writings Series, 1898-1988.
- Miscellaneous Series, 1925-1975 and undated
- Oversize Materials
- Accessions 95-095 and 95-100
- Accession 96-062
The Gay Wilson Allen Papers span the years 1801 to 1988, but the bulk of the collection occurs during the years 1925 to the 1970s. They consist of correspondence, notebooks, printed material, essays and other writings, literary manuscripts, scrapbooks, teaching materials, pictures, books, clippings, offprints, periodicals, and sale catalogs. The focus of the collection is Allen's career as a university professor and Walt Whitman scholar. In particular Allen's activities as a professor at New York University and as a lecturer at Nagono, Japan in 1955, are documented. The history of Whitman criticism is an important theme. There is a large amount of research material on Whitman, both of Allen and other literary scholars. These include Evie Allison Allen, Clara Barrus, Charles N. Elliot, Clifton Joseph Furness, Emory Holloway, Peter Mitilineos, Hans Reisiger, and Henry Scholey Saunders. The Correspondence Series contains original correspondence acquired by Allen of Richard Watson Gilder, Alice James, and William James. This series also contains the correspondence of Roger Asselineau, Fredson Bowers, Oscar Cargill, Malcolm Cowley, Charles E. Feinberg, Milton Hindus, Emory Holloway, Sholom Kahn, and Frederik Schyberg. There are no strictly personal papers in the collection.
Allen's career, both as a professor and Whitman scholar, is documented in several series. The Walt Whitman Materials Series and the Scrapbooks Series relate to his Whitman research. In the former series the Commemorations and Societies Subseries and the Popular Culture Subseries also document the ever increasing interest in Whitman's life and works during the twentieth century. The Correspondence Subseries and the Pictures Subseries contain copies of letters and pictures relating to Whitman and his age. The Correspondence Series also contains extensive letters concerning Allen's early teaching career, his dealings with several presses, and the marketing and reception of his The Solitary Singer, a Whitman biography.
The papers of six Whitman scholars are in the Walt Whitman Scholars Series. It suggests the international range both of Whitman scholarship and of Allen's interests. In addition to the interest in Whitman she shared with her husband, Evie Allison Allen was also a skilled translator of Germanic languages. Charles N. Elliot and Emory Holloway, as well as Canadian Henry Scholey Saunders, were Whitman collector-scholars who interacted with both Allen and Furness. The late Peter Mitilineos was one of Allen's students and was particularly interested in the writings of Italian Whitman scholar Pasquale Jannacone. Professor and Mrs. Allen both had an interest in the writings of German Whitman scholar Hans Reisiger.
The Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series documents the history of Whitman criticism from Whitman's day to the start of Allen's biography of Whitman, The Solitary Singer. Allen used some of Furness's research materials to write the book. The Clara Barrus Papers Subseries contains her research materials on the relationship between Whitman and John Burroughs. In fact Barrus was a close friend of Whitman's friends Burroughs and Thomas Biggs Harned. The subseries includes portions of Barrus's correspondence, her research materials, and the manuscript of her study of Whitman and Burroughs, entitled Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades. The Correspondence Subseries contains correspondence with a number of Whitman friends, scholars, and collectors. The Writings Subseries chiefly reflects the results of the information Furness collected on Whitman during the 1930s and 1940s. Furness began three major Whitman projects: a definitive biography, an extensive bibliography, and a study of his reception in New England, tentatively entitled The Bull in the China Shop. None of these works were published during Furness's lifetime.
Collections in the Duke University. David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library related to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers include the American Literature Papers and the Trent Collection. Collections at other institutions related to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers include papers of Clara Barrus and Emory Holloway at the University of Virginia, papers of Henry Scholey Saunders at Brown University, and papers of Charles N. Elliot at the Library of Congress.
Provenance Note on the Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series
Gay Wilson Allen acquired Clifton Joseph Furness's papers in 1948, but Furness had acquired some of Clara Barrus's papers shortly before her death in 1931. In turn Barrus, in her role as the literary executor of John Burroughs, had acquired some of Burroughs's papers in the years before his death in 1921. Apparently, Barrus had originally planned to write an extensive study of Whitman and his followers, based on materials found in her Research Files, but she apparently later decided to narrow its focus to a study of the relationship between Whitman and Burroughs. During Burroughs's last years she retyped some of his correspondence with Whitman and related figures, and in her own hand transcribed Burroughs's comments on each letter. With the help of Furness, Barrus published her last book, Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades in 1931. About that time, Furness acquired the materials found in the Clara Barrus Papers Subseries.
Furness was in close contact with other Whitman friends, scholars, and collectors, and spent years collecting information on Whitman. None of these projects were published during his lifetime.
In 1948, New York University professor Gay Wilson Allen was able to persuade the university to purchase for his use Furness's papers, which by now included papers from Barrus and Burroughs as well. David Goodale and Henry Scholey Saunders agreed to cooperate with Allen in the publication of Furness's Whitman bibliography. In about l951 Allen acquired Saunders's revised copy of the portion of Furness's Whitman bibliography concerned with Biography and Criticism, Part 6 (of 11). After Furness's death Allen, with the help of some of the Furness Papers, wrote a Whitman biography, which eventually became The Solitary Singer.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
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How to Cite
[Identification of item], The Gay Wilson Allen Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Letters to and from Allen and other persons. Arranged alphabetically by name of correspondent. Within this are two filing systems: Collective files for letters of the alphabet (to mid-1930s) and individual files (mid-1930s to 1980s). Some correspondents have materials filed under both alphabetic letters and their surnames.
Consists of research materials, correspondence, literary manuscripts, notebooks of research material on Whitman, and writings. Subseries: Clara Barrus Papers, Correspondence, Notebooks, Printed Material, and Writings. See the Provenance Note on the Clifton Joseph Furness Papers Series in this collection inventory.
Contains books and monographs, clippings, essays and offprints, periodicals, and sale catalogs, which chiefly relate to Allen's scholarly interests. Although Allen grouped these materials together, many of them originally belonged to Barrus, Furness, Saunders, Bertha Johnston, John H. Johnston, and other Whitman scholars and enthusiasts.
Contain memorabilia relating to Allen's career as a Whitman scholar. See Oversize Materials.
Contains research materials, copies of letters and pictures, and copies of Whitman's poems and prose. Subseries: Commemorations and Societies, Correspondence, Pictures, Popular Culture, Writings, and Miscellaneous.
Subseries: Evie Allison Allen Papers, Charles N. Elliot Papers, Emory Holloway Papers, Peter Mitilineos Papers, Hans Reisinger Papers, and Henry Scholey Saunders Papers.
Contains copies of Allen's essays and book reviews, and the various drafts and production stages of several of his books.
This unprocessed accession of professional correspondence, subject files, miscellaneous files and loose materials was added to the Gay Wilson Allen Papers in 1995 and is open for research.
12. Accession 96-062
This unprocessed accession contains reprints of articles by Allen; research notes on William James, Walt Whitman, and Ralph Waldo Emerson; and drafts of writings on Whitman and others. The William James materials include transcripts of Alice James' diary, and other family letters and writings. Also included is a large portrait of Malcolm Cowley. Open for research.
Gay Wilson Allen
|1903, Aug. 23||
Born, Lake Junaluska, N.C.
A.B., Duke University
A.M., Duke University
Teacher at Lake Erie College
Teacher at Alabama Polytechnic Institute
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin
Associate Professor of English, Shurtlieff College
Professor of English, Bowling Green State University
Professor/Professor Emeritus of English, New York University
Walt Whitman Handbook published
The Solitary Singer: Critical Biography of Walt Whitman published; U.S. State Department lecturer in Japan
Walt Whitman as Man, Poet, and Legend published
William James, A Biography published
Member of Editorial Board, American Literature published
A Reader's Guide to Walt Whitman published
Waldo Emerson published
Clifton Joseph Furness
|1898, Apr. 30||
Born, Sheridan, Ind.
Teacher of music, Northwestern University
A.B., Northwestern University
Teacher of music, Horace Mann School for Boys, New York City
Walt Whitman's Workshop published; A.M., Harvard University
Teacher of English, Northeastern University (1928-1929), Bradford College (1929-1931), Harvard University Graduate School (1929-1934)
Teacher of Biography and Music, Katharine Gibbs Schools
Director of Academic Studies, New England Conservatory of Music
Collaborated with Clara Barrus on Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades (1931)
Editor, facsimile reprint of 1855 edition of Whitman's Leaves of Grass
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Allen, Gay Wilson, 1903-1995
- Allen, Evie Allison
- Bowers, Fredson
- Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-
- Cargill, Oscar, 1898-
- Elliot, Charles N. (Charles Nathan), b. 1873
- Furness, Clifton Joseph
- Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909
- Holloway, Emory, 1885-1977
- Hindus, Milton
- Mitilineos, Peter
- Reisiger, Hans
- Saunders, Henry Scholey, 1864-
- Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892 -- Criticism and interpretation
The Gay Wilson Allen papers (1801-1988) were donated to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library between 1985 and 1992 by Gay Wilson Allen.
Processed by: Stanley Blair
Completed September 9, 1993
Encoded by Stephen Douglas Miller