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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series. Materials in Series I are arranged in alphabetical order. Series II is arranged in chronological order.
Scope and Contents
This collection documents Jean Nathan's extensive biographical research on the life of Dare Wright (1914-2001), a children's book writer, photographer, and model, who spent most of her career in New York. The bulk of the collection is composed of Nathan's meticulously compiled research files. These contain photocopies from a multitude of published and archival sources, letters and printed email correspondence with family members and friends of the Wright family, and handwritten notes on telephone interviews with sources. The collection also includes a small amount of original material given to Nathan by Wright's caregivers. Finally, there are materials related to the publication process, promotion, and reception of Nathan's book, The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll.
Research files are generally organized by subject, though there are also files dedicated to important sources of information, such as the Mahoning Valley Historical Society. There are nearly 700 research files in the collection. Files large enough to have been stored in 3-ring binders are listed individually in the finding aid, as are research materials with oversize, audiovisual, or digital components. The remainder of the research files are described at the box level.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Original materials created by Dare Wright will not be reproduced without the permission of the rights holder. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Jean Nathan Collection on Dare Wright; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact email@example.com for more information.
A small amount of material that was originally the personal property of Dare Wright is included in the collection. This material was given to Jean Nathan after Wright's death. An itemized list of these materials and their provenance is available at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Jean Nathan donated the collection to the Rare Book and Manuscript Library in 2006.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.
This collection was processed by Celeste Brewer. Finding aid written by Celeste Brewer in February 2020.
Hanging files and three-ring binders were removed during processing. Oversize materials were moved to appropriately sized housing. Otherwise, most materials were physically retained in the order in which they arrived at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
A small amount of material was removed from its original location in the collection in November 2007. This material was re-integrated into the collection during processing. Some items were labeled with their original location, and were returned to that location. Otherwise, they were placed according to the archivist's best judgment regarding their original location. A list of these items is available at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
History / Biographical Note
Jean Nathan graduated from Williams College and the Columbia School of Journalism. She was a staff writer for The New York Observer and a senior editor at Connoisseur magazine. She has written for The New York Times, The New Yorker, Travel & Leisure, Vogue, and other publications. Her biography of Dare Wright, The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll, began as a feature story in Tin House magazine (Fall 1999). The full biography was published by Henry Holt and Company in 2004.
Dare Wright (1914-2001) was a children's book writer, photographer, and model best known for her Lonely Doll series. Born on December 3 in Vaughan, Canada, Wright spent her childhood in Ohio and the majority of her career in New York City. Her mother, Edith Stevenson Wright, was a portrait artist who traveled extensively, painting President Calvin Coolidge and other prominent subjects. Her father, Ivan Wright, was a theatre critic.
Wright's parents divorced when she was two years old. She never saw her father again, and did not meet her older brother, Blaine, again until they were adults. Dare never married, and lived with her mother in New York and Cleveland, Ohio, until Edith's death in 1975. They frequently vacationed together on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina. Dare Wright died in New York City on January 25, 2001.