crown CU Home > Libraries Home
Columbia University Libraries Archival CollectionsRare Book & Manuscript Library Collections

   Vera L. Connolly Papers 1907-1960 [Bulk dates: 1916-1956].

Download and Print CitationContact Bookmark Share

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Vera L. Connolly Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information


This collection documents the career of Vera Connolly, journalist, editor, and fiction author, through her drafts, notes, and correspondence. Connolly's articles, published in popular magazines such as Good Housekeeping, Colliers, and Woman's Day, ranged in topic from financial advice for married women to juvenile delinquency, prison reform, sweatshops, and poor living conditions on Indian reservations.

At a Glance

Bib ID:4078648 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Connolly, Vera L., 1888-1964.
Title:Vera L. Connolly Papers 1907-1960 [Bulk dates: 1916-1956].
Physical description:12 linear feet ( 27 document boxes, one oversize box)
Language(s):In English
Access: This collection has no rstrictions. This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.  More information »



This collection is arranged in four series.

Return to top


Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection relates to Connolly's work as a contract and freelance writer and contains correspondence with editors and agents, extensive research notes, and many drafts of her published and unpublished work. It also includes clippings and scrapbooks of published articles, reviews and reactions to her work, and a small amount of biographical information

Series I: Correspondence, 1917-1960.

Most of the letters that make up this series are between Connolly and the agents and editors of magazines. Connolly presents concepts for unwritten articles, receives feedback and suggestions on drafts, and negotiates the direction of the articles. There are also some responses from readers.

Subseries I.1 Alphabetical, 1928-1955

This subseries is arranged by personal or institution name and includes correspondence with W.F. Bigelow, editor of Good Housekeeping, and publishers at McGraw Hill and Dodd, Mead, and Co., among others.

Subseries I.2: Chronological, 1917-1960

This small subseries contains a file of correspondence related to fiction submissions and several separate runs of general correspondence with editors, agents, and occasionally readers and friends.

Series II: Nonfiction, 1916-1956

Most of Connolly's nonfiction files contain a combination of research notes and drafts of magazine articles. Lists of article concepts and notes from interviews are also present, and some files, such as those relating to the American Indian series, contain extensive correspondence. Clippings of the finished article are sometimes available, but most drafts are undated and few include information on where the article was eventually published. A partial list of articles is included in her resume (see Series IV), but Connolly's published articles can be most easily found by searching magazine indexes, particularly those for Good Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Colliers, Redbook, Reader's Digest, The Delineator, The Saturday Evening Post, and Woman's Day.

Subseries II.1: Titled Drafts and Research Notes, 1929-1956

Titled drafts of published and unpublished works have been arranged alphabetically. Many files also contain associated research notes.

Subseries II.2: Untitled Drafts and Research Notes, 1916-1954

Files containing untitled drafts or research notes only have been arranged by subject, though these may relate to one or more of the titled drafts.

Series II.3: Article Clippings, 1917-1954

Scrapbooks and clippings of published articles can be found in this subseries. They are organized alphabetically by publication title.

Series III: Fiction, 1907-1952

This series is composed primarily of drafts and occasional printed copies of Connolly's short stories, poems, radio and television concepts, and her novel Judy Grant: Editor. Like her nonfiction articles, few of Connolly's fiction drafts are dated, although most were probably written before 1920. Files occasionally contain research notes, correspondence with publishers and editors, or clippings of published works and their associated illustrations.

Subseries III.1: Titled Drafts, 1912-1952

This subseries contains drafts and notes of titled works, arranged alphabetically.

Subseries III.2: Untitled Drafts and Notes, 1907-circa 1952

Story concepts, notes, and untitled drafts can be found in this subseries.

Series IV: General, 1910-1952

This small series contains a variety of materials, including articles about Connolly, resumes and biographical articles, contracts, and lecture notes from events held by the Association of Students of Dr. Hendrik J. deLange.

Return to top

Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection has no rstrictions.

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the Librarian for Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Vera L. Connolly Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid in repository; folder level control.

Return to top

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Carolyn Smith.

Finding aid written by Carolyn Smith in April, 2008.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion December 2, 2008 Finding aid written in English.
    2008-12-02 File created.
    2009/01/15 xml document instange created by Patrick Lawlor
    2009/05/27 xml document instange created by Catherine N. Carson

Return to top

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.

Additional Creators

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Christian Science monitor.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Good housekeeping.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Saturday evening post.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Woman's day.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Woman's home companion.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Connolly, Vera L., 1888-1964.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Indians of North America.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Juvenile delinquency.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Juvenile probation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rural schools.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Social problems.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
United States--Social conditions.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women and journalism.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women journalists.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women social reformers.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Return to top

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Vera Leona Connolly was a journalist and editor for many of America's popular magazines, particularly woman's journals such as Good Housekeeping, The Woman's Home Companion, and Woman's Day, from the 1920s through the 1950s. Describing herself as a "crusading journalist--a stirrer-upper," Connolly wrote articles that publicized and criticized social problems in the United States, including juvenile delinquency, lax adoption regulations, ineffective narcotics law, sweatshops, and the poor living conditions on Indian reservations. She encouraged her readers get involved by writing to government officials and volunteering time, and some of her articles sparked investigations and court cases that lead to significant changes. Connolly also wrote extensively about marriage and family throughout her career, but supported the rights of unmarried women and unwed mothers as well.

Connolly was born in 1888 at a military post in Benicia, California. Her father, an Army captain, traveled widely throughout Europe and Southeast Asia and often brought his wife and two children, Vera and Donald, with him. For several years he was stationed on the Round Valley Reservation in California, and Connolly later said that the poverty and malnourishment she witnessed there led to her decision to help disadvantaged groups.

The family eventually settled in Angel Island, San Francisco, where Connolly began writing stories and worked on her high school's newspaper. She went on to study English at the University of California for two years, but left after her father died of a bullet wound sustained in battle. Finding herself financially responsible for her handicapped mother, the 18-year-old Connolly moved to New York City to work as a reporter for the New York Sun. By 1913 she was Associate Editor of Delineator Magazine , and from 1917 to 1918 she ran a department at the Christian Herald called "Adventures in Neighboring," which featured upbeat articles about community improvement in rural areas. Connolly became Associate Editor of World Outlook in 1919 and worked for several months at McCalls.

In 1920, with enough editing experience to know what the magazines were looking for, Connolly began writing articles on contract. Over the next two decades she would publish hundreds of pieces in popular magazines, particularly Good Housekeeping. During the 1920's and early 1930s, Connelly focused on family and juvenile courts, youth crime waves, and prison conditions. She visited over 200 jails to see prison life in person. Connolly also visited sweatshops and wrote "Paid in Sweat" to expose the working conditions in the clothing industry.

In 1928, William Bigelow, editor of Good Housekeeping, sent Connolly on a year-long investigation of Indian reservations in the Western states. She returned to write four articles that accused the Indian Bureau of severe neglect, particularly at government boarding schools. The series, which relied heavily on Connolly's observations and the words of the Indians themselves, elicited hundreds of responses from shocked readers, as well as letters of denial and protest from Commissioner of Indian Affairs Charles Burke. The protests led to a Senate investigation and the appointment of a million dollars to feed Indian children, and may also have forced Burke's resignation. Connolly's third article, "The End of the Road," was entered into the Congressional Record. She considered the series one of her greatest accomplishments.

Connolly continued to write articles on social problems throughout the 1930s and 1940s. She attacked narcotics laws in "The Dope Menace" and warned potential adoptive parents in "Bargain Counter Babies." In 1933, her article "the Light in the Mountains" on rural mountain schools resulted in the Perpetual Vera Connolly Scholarship. She was especially interested in juvenile delinquency and discipline, and "Get the Children Out of the Jails," published in Woman's Home Companion in 1945, led to legislation restricting the jailing of children in several states. A later article, "No Straps, No Paddles," was reprinted by the U.S. Department of State, translated into many languages, and distributed in fifty-five countries to provide an example of how troubled and traumatized children could be treated without physical punishment. Connolly was also disturbed by rising divorce rates and wrote extensively about solutions to marital problems.

During the earlier years of her career, Connolly also published short stories and serials in fiction magazines such as Black Cat and The Cavalier . Her work ranged from animal adventure stories to mysteries, but many of her pieces were similar in theme to her articles. Her cautionary tale "The Incident" was based on interviews with two teenage runaways, and stories such as "The Spell on the Rice" focused on women trapped in unhappy marriages. She also experimented with poetry, musicals, and radio scripts, submitted movie concepts to film studios, and published a young adult novel entitled Judy Grant, Editor. Fiction remained a secondary interest, however, and Connolly eventually dropped most other projects to focus on journalism.

In 1937 Connolly became one of the founders and the Associate Editor of Woman's Day, where she was responsible for the column "Just Between Neighbors" and a tear-out section for children called "Children's Day." Two years later, she was asked to found and edit a woman's page for The Christian Science Monitor. She moved to Boston and created "Today's Woman," an eight-column page that covered the achievements of woman around the world and delved into issues especially important to women.

Connolly returned to New York and to contract writing in 1942, and wrote for Collier's and Women's Home Companion. She also published in Nation's Business, This Week, and the Saturday Evening Post, and served again as Associate Editor of The Delineator from 1945 to 1950. Her articles continued to have a powerful impact; "The Man who Refused to Die," published in Redbook in 1952, told the story of veteran Sam Harrison's determination to have a job despite having lost all but two fingers. The article was celebrated by disabled veterans, some of whom formed "Sam Harrison Clubs" to help others in similar situations. CBS made the story into a half-hour radio drama, and the U.S. Committee on Employment of the Physically Handicapped reprinted and distributed the article to hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

By the mid-1950s, woman's magazines had begun to turn away crusading pieces in favor of entertainment articles, and Connolly found it increasingly difficult to publish her work. She stopped publishing in 1955. Connolly died in New York in 1964.

Return to top