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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged is arranged in five series.
The Ernest Hunter Collection comprise manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, legal and banking papers, and a few photographs. The collection focuses on the period between 1947 and 1968 when Wright died, and is concentrated in the management of the Cragsmoor Community Properties.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on 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 approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Ernest Hunter Wright Collection; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Selected Related Material at Columbia
Columbia University English Department Letters Collection, MS#0257
Cragsmoor Theatre Programs (Cragsmoor, N.Y.). New York State Library
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Source of acquisition--Estate of Mrs. Wright. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--1969. Accession number--M-69.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Cataloged Christina Hilton Fenn 09/--/89.
Papers processed Alison Lotto, New York University and the Palmer School, 2013 2011 February.
Papers recataloged Lea Osborne 2011 February 17.
2009-06-26 File created.
2011-02-17 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Ernest Hunter Wright was born in Lynchburg, Virginia in 1882. He came to New York around 1900 to work with a social worker on the Bowery and attend Columbia College. During Wright's senior year, with Seth Low as his sponsor, he helped to found a school at the Young Men's Institute on the Bowery. Wright was responsible for hiring teachers and beginning instruction while the rest of the staff was assembled. The students paid $12 a year in tuition, and the school was intended to prepare them for college.
Wright graduated from Columbia in 1906 and received his Ph.D from the University in 1910. He worked as an instructor of English beginning in 1910, became a full professor in 1928, and from 1933-1947 was the head of the English Department. During that time, he wrote The Meaning of Rousseau and The Authorship of Timon of Athens. His academic writing was on a variety of subjects, including the Romantics and Shakespeare. Wright also edited The Richards Encyclopedia in 1933 with his wife Mary Heritage Wright.
The Wrights owned a home in Cragsmoor, New York where they spent the summers and retired after Wright left Columbia in 1947. In 1950, the community theater was threatened with closure, but Wright convinced many of his friends to provide financial support to buy the theater from its owner. The theater was purchased in 1950 by Cragsmoor Community Properties, and from 1950-1953, with Wright as President the organization invited theater groups in to perform in the summer.
After managing the theater for 3 years, Wright retired from the Cragsmoor organization, and concentrated on writing articles and manuscripts, mainly autobiographical stories and non-fiction articles, many unrelated to his scholarly texts. Wright wrote about his early time in New York, particularly when he lived on the Bowery, including an autobiographical story "Groton on the Bowery." He wrote on literary topics, particularly poetry, ethics, and Shakespeare. Wright also became interested in social commentary, and produced articles about safe driving, rules of the road, and the politics of violence in film. One of these articles about how to skip stones was published in Scientific American in 1957, and Wright received many responses to the question. Wright also wrote a series in the New York Times called "Speaking of Books." His health slowly deteriorated throughout the 1950's and 1960's, and he died in 1968. Mary Wright died a year later and bequeathed her husband's papers to Columbia University.