Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Barbara Newhall Follett papers, 1919-1966, bulk 1919-1939

Summary Information


Barbara Newhall Follett's papers consist primarily of personal letters, manuscripts of published and unpublished books, short stories, essays, and poems, book reviews, newspaper clippings, photographs, and notes written by her mother, Helen Follett.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0439
Bib ID 4078771 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Follett, Barbara Newhall, 1914-1939
Title Barbara Newhall Follett papers, 1919-1966, bulk 1919-1939
Physical Description 2.73 linear feet (6.5 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



Selected materials cataloged.

This collection is arranged in five series.



Barbara Follett's papers primarily consist of personal letters, manuscripts of published and unpublished works, photographs, newspaper clippings, and research materials relating to her autobiography that was published in 1965.

The correspondence was originally processed by year and the current arrangement reflects this order. Select letters were also catalogued and arranged by special friends of Ms. Follett.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1919-1952

    This series consists primarily of personal letters from Barbara Follett to Mr. Oberg; Alice Dyer Russell, a very close friend; and to her mother, Helen Follett.

  • Series II: Published Materials, 1927-1933

    In this series, the papers are published manuscripts in various versions. The titles are: House Without Windows; I n Defense of Butterflies; and The Voyage of the Norman D.

  • Series III: Unpublished Materials, 1919-1934

    This series contains unpublished manuscripts of books, short stories, essays, and poems.

  • Series IV: Childhood Materials, 1922-1925

    These files contain materials related to Barbara's education at home, notes and history of Farksoo, a make-believe land; butterfly drawings; and numerous notes about Barbara's interest in nature from her mother.

  • Series V: Barbara's Autobiography, 1919-1966

    In this series, there is correspondence between Helen Follett and the writer, Mr. McCurdy, a professor of psychology; research materials about Barbara's life; photographs, and copies of her writings.

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 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.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Barbara Newhall Follett papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material-- at Columbia

Helen Thomas Follett Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 06/--/89.

Papers processed by Marilyn Chin (Queens College, 2011). Folder level control.

Finding aid written by Marilyn Chin (Queens College, 2011) May 2011.

Revision Description

2011-06-01 File created.

2011-06-01 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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:"
Follett, Barbara Newhall, 1914-1939 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Follett, Helen Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Follett, Wilson, 1887-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Barbara Newhall Follett was born on March 4, 1914. Her parents were Wilson Follett, an English professor and a writer, and Helen Thomas Follett, also a writer. Barbara was homeschooled by her mother, who believed that children should learn at their own pace. At the age of five, Barbara started to use the typewriter and learned how to make new words and form sentences. She also began to write letters to relatives and friends.

During her childhood years, she wrote numerous short stories, essays, and poems about nature. Barbara had a vivid imagination and created a make-believe world called Farksolia, in which she also developed its language and vocabulary.

Her first book, House Without Windows, was published in 1927, when she was thirteen years old. It was critically acclaimed and she wrote another book, The Voyage of the Norman D, that was published the following year, She was hailed as a "child genius" and "a child prodigy author" by newspapers around the country. She made the headlines again when she and her mother went on a long sailing voyage to the Caribbean and the South Seas Islands during the late 1920s. They co-authored a book about their trip together and it was published in 1932 as Magic Portholes.

After her father left the family in 1928, Ms. Follett and her mother had to find a way of bringing in steady income between their writing assignments. Starting at sixteen years of age, she worked as a typist in New York City while living with her mother. From her late teens to her early twenties, she traveled extensively in the U.S. and Europe with her boyfriend and then husband, Nickerson Rogers.

On December 7, 1939, after an argument with her husband, Barbara Follett left their apartment with only a few dollars. She was never seen or heard from again. She was twenty-five years old.