Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Robert N. Caldwell Correspondence, 1949-1969

Summary Information


In 1949, New Jersey newspaper editor Robert N. Caldwell began a close friendship with his former professor at Columbia University, Mark van Doren. The two frequently discussed politics, literature, philosophy, and their day-to-day lives. This collection consists of correspondence, between Robert Caldwell and Columbia professor Mark van Doren spanning two decades.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0182
Bib ID 4078574 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Caldwell, Robert N., 1908-1973
Title Robert N. Caldwell Correspondence, 1949-1969
Physical Description 1.26 linear feet (3 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



This collection is arranged in three series.



The Robert N. Caldwell Papers consist almost entirely of correspondence between Caldwell and Mark van Doren. The two began their correspondence over local politics, specifically those in Bayonne, NJ, where Caldwell worked as a newspaper editor. As the friendship progressed, topics moved to parenting, philosophy, and literature, with van Doren frequently sharing his poems.

  • Series I: Letters to Mark van Doren, 1949-1969

    Series I is comprised of typed carbon copies of Caldwell's letters to van Doren, dating from February 26, 1949 to March 20, 1969

  • Series II: Letters from Mark van Doren, 1949-1969

    The second series consists of van Doren's primarily handwritten letters, some with accompanying envelopes, and postcards to Caldwell dating from February 19, 1949 to September 9, 1969.

  • Series III: Other Correspondence and Clippings, 1951-1969

    Series III contains miscellaneous correspondence as well as newspaper clippings. There is a postcard from van Doren to Caldwell's daughter, Cathy, and letters from Dorothy and Charlie van Doren, Mark's wife and son, to Caldwell. There is a small collection of correspondence between Caldwell and Verb Gabbert. Finally, there are a variety of newspaper clippings of articles written either about van Doren or by Caldwell.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Robert N. Caldwell Correspondence; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Mark van Doren Papers, 1917-1976 Columbia University, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Ownership and Custodial History

Gift of Robert N. Caldwell, 1969.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 04/14/1989.

Papers processed Christina N. Manzella, Pratt SILS 2011 2010 August.

Cataloged Lea Osborne 2010 December 29.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2010-12-29 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Journalism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Literature Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newspaper publishing -- New Jersey Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Philosophy Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Robert N. Caldwell first met Mark van Doren in one of his English classes at Columbia University in 1928. Upon graduating in 1932, Caldwell returned to his home state of New Jersey where he joined the staff of a local newspaper, The Record. Sixteen years later, after he had become the managing editor of another local paper The Bayonne Times, Caldwell and van Doren's paths would cross again. A controversy in Bayonne over the transferring of a secondary school teacher, another of van Doren's former students, would spark a letter to the editor from the professor, thus igniting a close friendship and twenty year correspondence.

Just as van Doren lent a friendly ear throughout the Bayonne school board controversy, so too did Caldwell when van Doren and his publications were accused of promoting communism in 1951. The two frequently wrote each other of personal crises as well as triumphs. Also in 1951, van Doren, through the Association of the Alumni of Columbia College, nominated Caldwell for the association's Alexander Hamilton Medal, an award for distinguished service and accomplishment in any field of endeavor.

In 1961, Caldwell returned to The Record and was named its assistant editor in 1967. Robert Caldwell died on May 31, 1973, at the age of 64.