Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Mark Van Doren papers, 1917-1976

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1288
Bib ID 4079434 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972
Title Mark Van Doren papers, 1917-1976
Physical Description 35 linear feet (86 boxes; 3 card files; 1 oversize folder)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

The following box is located off-site: 86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library 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.



Arranged in ten series.



Correspondence and manuscripts of Van Doren, consisting of letters, poems, short stories, novels, plays, radio broadcast transcripts ("Invitation to Learning"), diaries, critical works, proofs, and printed works. Correspondents include Louise Bogan, Philip Booth, Babette Deutsch, Richard Eberhart, T.S. Eliot, John Gould Fletcher, Herbert Gorman, E.W. Howe, Robinson Jeffers, Archibald MacLeish, Louis MacNeice, Edgar Lee Masters, Lewis Mumford, Hyam Plutzik, Allen Tate, and Louis Zukovsky. Also, extensive correspondence with Robert Lax and Thomas Merton, as well as manuscripts by these two authors.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

The following box is located off-site: 86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library 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

Readers must use microfilms and photocopies of materials specified above.

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); Mark, Van Doren papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Alternate Form Available

I. A. Richards and Allen Tate letters are on: microfilm.

T. S. Eliot letters have been: photocopied.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 09/--/1989.

15 items added to Box 41, 42& 85 Processed HR 06/21/1996.

3 letters to Grover Smith Cataloged HR 06/27/2000.

Revision Description

2009-06-26 File created.

2018-10-22 The unnumbered series previously at the end ("Correspondence (Series 2)") was just a list of names found in series V. The names were integrated into that series. kws

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:"
Anthologies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Audio tapes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Card files Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fiction (general genre) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Galley proofs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notebooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Phonograph records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Proofs (printed matter) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scripts (documents) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Adler, Mortimer Jerome, 1902-2001 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
American literature -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Berryman, John, 1914-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bogan, Louise, 1897-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Booth, Philip Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Caldwell, Robert N Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College teachers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia University. Faculty Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Critics Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Deutsch, Babette, 1895-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eberhart, Richard, 1904-2005 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fletcher, John Gould, 1886-1950 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Gorman, Herbert Sherman, 1893-1954 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howe, E. W (Edgar Watson), 1853-1937 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jeffers, Robinson, 1887-1962 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lax, Robert Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-1982 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
MacNeice, Louis, 1907-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Masters, Edgar Lee, 1868-1950 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Merton, Thomas, 1915-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Motion pictures Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mumford, Lewis, 1895-1990 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Plutzik, Hyam, 1911-1962 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Radio programs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Short stories Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tate, Allen, 1899-1979 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Van Doren joined the Columbia faculty after earning his PhD in 1920; he was among the original band of young scholars who taught John Erskine's General Honors course. Over subsequent decades, Van Doren would open the world of ideas and poetry to Columbia students, among them alumni poets Louis Simpson, Richard Howard, John Hollander, John Berryman, Thomas Merton, and Allen Ginsberg. He guided the planning and helped launch of Humanities A in the Core Curriculum ("Lit Hum," a cornerstone of the Core to this day) and taught a section himself for 17 years, an experience about which he said in his autobiography "nothing I ever did with students was more fun." Among his writings are Collected Poems, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1939; American and British Literature since 1890, with his brother, Carl Van Doren; critical studies of various authors, including John Dryden and Nathaniel Hawthorne; several anthologies, and The Noble Voice, a collection of essays. Upon his retirement from full-time teaching at Columbia in 1959, Van Doren told Newsweek: "I have always had the greatest respect for students. There is nothing I hate more than condescension--the attitude that they are inferior to you. I always assume they have good minds." He semi-retired in 1953, and gave up teaching altogether in 1959, following the scandal involving his son Charles and the fixing of the popular television program "Twenty One," dramatized in the 1994 film Quiz Show. Today the students of Columbia College honor great teachers with the Mark Van Doren Award.