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John G. Neihardt, 1881-1973


RG1042.AM:  John G. Neihardt, 1881-1973

Papers:  1911-1983
Bancroft, Cuming County, Neb.:  Author, poet, professor
Size:  4.0 cu.ft.; 8 boxes

BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE

John Gneisenau Neihardt was born near Sharpsburg, Illinois, on January 8, 1881, the third child of Nicholas Nathan Neihardt and Alice Culler Neihardt. In 1886 the family moved to a sod house in northwestern Kansas, and then to Kansas City in 1888. In 1891 he moved with his mother and sisters, Lulu and Grace, to Wayne, Nebraska, where he attended Nebraska Normal College, graduating at the age of 16. He finished his first book, The Divine Enchantment, based on Vedanta philosophy, at age 16, and published it three years later.

After teaching at a country school for two terms, he moved to Bancroft Nebraska, where he worked with an Indian trader among the Omahas. He edited the Bancroft Blade, a country weekly, for several years there. During this time he lived among the Sioux Indians, becoming an authority on their traditions and customs. His interactions with the Sioux later inspired his writing of Black Elk Speaks.

He married Mona Martinsen (1884-1958), a sculptress and one time student of Rodin, in 1908. They had four children: Hilda, Alice, Enid, and Sigurd.

In 1912 Neihardt began his major work, A Cycle of the West, devoting 18 years to its writing. He also worked for the Minneapolis Journal [c.1912-1916]. In 1921 the Nebraska Legislature named him Poet Laureate. As literary editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, he wrote book reviews [c.1926-1938]. He was Poet in Residence, and Lecturer in English at the University of Missouri-Columbia from 1949-1965.

Neihardt was a member of a number of organizations, including the National Institute of Arts and Letters, New York; the International Institute of Arts and Letters, Germany; founder of the Westerners; first civilian member, Order of the Indian Wars of the United States, 1927; vice president of the Midwest division of the Poetry Society of America; and chancellor of the Academy of American Poetry (1951-1967).

Neihardt received numerous honors for his literary ability. In 1919 he won the Poetry Society's national prize and the gold medal for foremost poet of the nation from the Poetry Center of New York. His bust was placed in the State Capitol building in Lincoln, Nebraska (1961). In 1968 the Nebraska governor named the first Sunday in August "Neihardt Day." That same year the United Poets Laureate International named him Prairie Poet of America. He received the Thomas Jefferson Award from the University of Missouri-Columbia. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln awarded him the Nebraska Builder's Award in 1972. In 1973 literary experts named his A Cycle of the West as one of the 3000 best books in the 3000 years from Homer to Hemingway.

Several colleges and universities in the Midwest granted Neihardt honorary degrees. He was awarded an honorary Litt. D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1917), the University of Missouri (1947), and Midland Lutheran College (1972). He also received an honorary LL. D. from Creighton University in Omaha (1928).

John Neihardt died on November 3, 1973, at the age of 92.

SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE

The materials in this collection relate to the life and work of John Neihardt. The collection is arranged according to the following subgroups: 1) Writings by Neihardt; 2) Correspondence; 3) Writings About Neihardt; 4) Legislative Resolutions; 5) Scrapbooks; and 6) Miscellaneous. Many of the Subgroups are further divided into Series.

Subgroup 1, Series 1 includes 25 folders of manuscript materials relating to the second half of Neihardt's autobiography, All Is But A Beginning. According to notes made at the time of donation, the 28 legal pads were written at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Julius Young in Lincoln, Nebraska. Mrs. Young apparently helped with the work after Neihardt became ill. The manuscripts are mostly in the handwriting of Neihardt, with some passages in Myrtle Young's hand. Neihardt died before completing the manuscript, leaving the autobiography incomplete. The legal pads were left in the order in which they were received at the Nebraska State Historical Society.

Subgroup 1, Series 2 contains Neihardt's handwritten and typed prose, arranged alphabetically.

Subgroup 1, Series 3 consists of poetry written by John Neihardt. Folder 2 holds a copy of the Nebraska Normal College Song, with lyrics written by John Neihardt.

Subgroup 1, Series 4 includes book reviews and articles written by Neihardt during his early career working for the Minneapolis Journal and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His column in the Post-Dispatch was titled "Of Making Many Books." The reviews are filed chronologically. Researchers should note that only a portion of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reviews, and none from the Minneapolis Journal are contained in this collection. Microfilm copies of these newspapers may be available from other institutions through Inter-Library Loan [ILL].

Correspondence between Neihardt and various persons form the content of Subgroup 2. The subgroup is divided into sixteen series. Each of the first fourteen series in this subgroup contains letters to and from a single individual. The series are titled alphabetically by the name of the individual, and the letters within each series are filed chronologically. Series 15 consists of White House letters. Series 16 contains the remaining general correspondence and is arranged chronologically. A majority of the correspondence is included here, but because some correspondence was directly related to materials in other series, it was placed in those series.

Subgroup 3, Series 1 contains a bibliography of Neihardt's works [including biographical information], and a 1920 treatise on Neihardt by Julius T. House.

Subgroup 3, Series 2 includes reviews written about Neihardt's works. They are filed chronologically.

Subgroup 3, Series 3 consists of substantial criticism of Neihardt's literary works. It includes three articles about Neihardt, and criticism of Neihardt produced for the Western Literature Association Conference in 1977. The individual papers presented at the conference are listed in the Description section of this inventory.

Subgroup 3, Series 4 includes pamphlets and programs relating to John Neihardt. They are arranged chronologically.

Subgroup 3, Series 5 consists of newsletters concerning John Neihardt. The newsletters from the Neihardt center were published during Neihardt's life. Information on the Foundation since his death can be found in the Neihardt Foundation collection.

Subgroup 3, Series 6 contains newspaper clippings about the life and works of John Neihardt. They date from 1921-1983.

Subgroup 3, Series 7 includes biographical information about Neihardt. The first folder relates to information about Neihardt's honors, achievements, and work. The second folder holds materials about his death and posthumous material.

Subgroup 3, Series 8 consists of miscellaneous excerpts from articles with information about Neihardt compiled by Elmer Holm. The information may relate to the Holm letters in Subgroup 2, Series 6.

Subgroup 4 contains legislative resolutions relating to John Neihardt. Folder 3 also contains program materials relating to the unveiling of the Neihardt portrait bust. All relevant information and correspondence has been kept with the original legislative resolutions.

The scrapbooks of Subgroup 5 are mostly newspaper clippings about John Neihardt.

Subgroup 6 contains miscellaneous information about Neihardt, including fragments of an interview between Donald Danker and John Neihardt in 1971; the jacket design for Black Elk Speaks; the wedding announcement of John Neihardt and Mona Martinsen; information about Neihardt's family history [Hilda Neihardt's widow's pension records, and Neihardt's father's military enlistment records, etc.]; educational aids for the use of Song Of Three Friends in the classroom; and other materials.

Note:  There are also photograph, audio, and moving image components to this collection. Contact the NSHS for more information. Collections RG5103: Richards, John T., and RG5104: Neihardt Foundation contain significant materials relating to Neihardt. See the NSHS Library Catalog and the Nebraska History index for published materials by and about John Neihardt. Some artifacts relating to John Neihardt are held by the Nebraska History Museum. Not all artifacts are on display; researchers must call for an appointment before scheduling a visit.

DESCRIPTION

Subgroup 1: Writings by Neihardt
Series 1 - Manuscript Autobiography

Box 1
Folder
  1. Part A: Manuscript Autobiography
    Part B: Manuscript Autobiography
    Part C: Manuscript Autobiography
  2. Manuscript Autobiography
  3. Manuscript Autobiography
  4. Manuscript Autobiography
  5. Manuscript Autobiography
  6. Manuscript Autobiography
  7. Manuscript Autobiography
  8. Manuscript Autobiography
  9. Manuscript Autobiography
  10. Manuscript Autobiography
  11. Manuscript Autobiography
  12. Manuscript Autobiography
  13. Manuscript Autobiography
Box 2
Folder
  1. Manuscript Autobiography
  2. Manuscript Autobiography
  3. Manuscript Autobiography
  4. Manuscript Autobiography
  5. Manuscript Autobiography
  6. Manuscript Autobiography
  7. Manuscript Autobiography
  8. Manuscript Autobiography
  9. Manuscript Autobiography
  10. Manuscript Autobiography
  11. Manuscript Autobiography
  12. Article, "My Most Unforgettable Character," Jan. 1970

Subgroup 1: Writings by Neihardt
Series 2 - Prose

Box 2 (cont.)
Folder
  1. The Alien, [typescript]
  2. Captain Marsh, [handwritten, not Neihardt's handwriting] April, 1973
  3. The Coming of the Word, [typescript] January, 1973
  4. The Homecoming of the Bride, [handwritten, not Neihardt's handwriting], 1973
Box 3
Folder
  1. Laureate Address (Chicago: The Bookfellows, 1921)
  2. Playmates, [handwritten, not Neihardt's handwriting], undated
  3. Notes to Song of Three Friends, [handwritten] undated
  4. The White Radiance, Mimeograph, undated

Subgroup 1: Writings by Neihardt
Series 3 - Poetry

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. The Song of the Indian War (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1925)
  2. Photocopies of changes by Neihardt for The Song of the Indian War, undated
  3. The Nebraska Normal College Song, published, undated
  4. The Quest (New York: The MacMillan Company, 1916)

Subgroup 1: Writings by Neihardt
Series 4 - Reviews and Articles

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1917
  2. 1927-1935
  3. Undated

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 1 - Mrs. Brockway

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1922

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 2 - Rex Carey

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1909, 1959

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 3 - U.S. Conn

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1926
  2. 1931
  3. 1932
  4. 1934

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 4 - Donald Danker

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1961

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 5 - Elanita Frye

Box 3 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1959, 1961

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 6 - Elmer and Mary Holm

Box 4
Folder
  1. 1938
  2. 1939
  3. 1940
  4. 1941
  5. 1942
  6. Undated and Fragments

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 7 - Ron Hull

Box 4 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1961, 1965

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 8 - Louis Ledoux

Box 4 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Information on Ledoux, Undated
  2. 1907
  3. 1908
  4. 1909
  5. 1910
  6. 1911
  7. 1912
  8. 1913
  9. 1914
  10. 1915
  11. 1916
  12. 1917
  13. 1918
  14. 1919
  15. 1920
  16. 1921
  17. 1923
  18. 1924
  19. 1940
  20. 1941
  21. Undated
  22. Letters to Ledoux from other writers, 1908-1911
  23. Letters to Ledoux from Mona Neihardt and others Undated [photocopies]
  24. Letters to Ledoux from Neihardt, 1911-1941 [photocopies of F2-F20]
  25. Letters to Ledoux from Neihardt, Undated [photocopies of F21]

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 9 - John Madden

Box 4 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1968

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 10 - Masters

Box 5
Folder
  1. 1921-1925

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 11 - Reuben Nelson

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1966, 1967, 1971, 1974, 1977

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 12 - Addison E. Sheldon

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1942-1943

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 13 - Evelyn Vogt

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1959
  2. 1964
  3. 1965
  4. 1966
  5. 1967
  6. 1968
  7. 1969
  8. 1975
  9. Undated

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 14 - Otto Weinkauf and A.E. Long

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1923, 1925, 1963, 1967

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 15 - White House

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1971-1973

Subgroup 2: Correspondence
Series 16 - Chronological Correspondence

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1900
  2. 1911
  3. 1917
  4. 1919
  5. 1920
  6. 1923 [includes a letter to Mrs. A.E. Long from Alice Neihardt]
  7. 1930
  8. 1945
  9. 1947
  10. 1956-1959
  11. 1962-1965
  12. 1966
  13. 1968
  14. 1969; 1971
  15. 1972
  16. 1973
  17. 1974
  18. 1975
  19. Undated

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 1 - Neihardt's Life and Works

Box 5 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Bibliography of Neihardt's Life and Works
  2. John G. Neihardt: Man and Poet, by Julius T. House, 1920

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 2 - Reviews

Box 6
Folder
  1. 1922
  2. 1926
  3. 1932
  4. 1957
  5. 1964
  6. 1971
  7. 1973
  8. 1977
  9. Undated

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 3 - Literary Criticism of Neihardt

Box 6 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Everet Bergstrom, "The Epic of the West" [incl. correspondence]
  2. Everet Bergstrom, "The Song of Hugh Glass" [incl. correspondence]
  3. Fred Lee, "John Neihardt: The Man and His Western Writings," 1978 [incl. correspondence]
  4. Papers about Neihardt from the Western Literature Association Conference, 1977:
    Lucile Aly, "John G. Neihardt and the American Epic"
    Paul Pavich, "Myth and Paramyth in John Milton's Notes to A Bald Buffalo"
    Billie Wahlstrom, "Searching for an Authentic Hero: The Poetics of History in John G. Neihardt's A Cycle of the West"
    Jean McIntyre, "Man in the Wilderness: Myth and Approach Wolf Song and Lord Grizzly"
    Anthony Arthur, "Manfred, Neihardt, and Hugh Glass: Variations on an American Epic"
    Glenn Selander, "Coyote: Milton's 'Ghost-Who-Walks'"
    "The Word Sender"
    Sally McCluskey, "History and Mystery: John G. Neihardt's The Song of Jed Smith"
    "The Use of Hugh Glass as Mythic Hero in Neihardt and Manfred"

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 4 - Pamphlets and Programs

Box 6 (cont.)
Folder
  1. 1961-1968
  2. 1969
  3. 1970-1971
  4. 1972
  5. 1973
  6. 1976-1983
  7. Undated

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 5 - Newsletters

Box 6 (cont.)
Folder
  1. The Goldenrod, 1920
  2. 1970-1973 [various titles]

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 6 - Newspaper Clippings, 1921-1975

Box 7
Folder
  1. 1921-1939
  2. 1941-1959
  3. 1961
  4. 1962-1965
  5. 1966-1967
  6. 1968
  7. 1969
  8. 1970
  9. 1971
  10. 1972
  11. 1973
  12. 1974
  13. 1975
  14. Undated
  15. Oversize newspapers and clippings (see OB007)

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 7 - Biographical Information

Box 7 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Biographical Information
  2. Information about Neihardt's Death

Subgroup 3: Writings about Neihardt
Series 8 - Holm Excerpts from Articles about Neihardt

Box 8
Folder
  1. "Holm" excerpts from articles about Neihardt; notes

Subgroup 4: Legislative Resolutions

Box 8 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Legislative Resolution 36 (1961)
  2. Legislative Resolution, Congressional Record (April 21, 1971)
  3. Program Material for Legislative Resolutions (1971)
  4. Legislative Resolution #40, and Nebraska Hall of Fame Materials (1973-1957)
  5. Legislative Resolution--Wisdom Award of Honor and Legislative Resolution 197 (1976)
  6. Legislative Resolution #188 (January, 1980)
  7. Legislative Resolution #2 from 80th Nebraska Legislature

Subgroup 5: Scrapbooks

Box 8 (cont.)
Volume
  1. Scrapbook
  2. Scrapbook

Subgroup 6: Miscellaneous

Box 8 (cont.)
Folder
  1. Neihardt Family History - Interview Fragments [Donald Danker and Neihardt, 1971]
  2. Dust Jacket Design for Paperback Edition, Black Elk Speaks
  3. Neihardt Wedding Announcement
  4. Neihardt Family History, Document Copies
  5. Educational Aids Based on Song of Three Friends
  6. Midland College Recitation, 1972
  7. Inventories
  8. Drawings
  9. Miscellaneous
  10. Miscellaneous oversize materials (see OB007)
  11. Posters (see oversize)

 

DAB/HEK/ab   06-06-1967
APD/ct   01-30-1976
MLW/kfk   08-19-1998
Encoded TMM   11-27-2010

 

For additional information about this collection, please contact our Library Staff.


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