Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Dawn Powell papers, 1890s-2007, bulk 1890s-1965

Summary Information

Abstract

Dawn Powell (1896-1965) was an American author of novels, plays, and short stories. The collection includes address books, appointment books, books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, ephemera, family materials, manuscripts, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, research files, reviews, scrapbooks, sketches and drawings.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1019
Bib ID 4079881 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Powell, Dawn
Title Dawn Powell papers, 1890s-2007, bulk 1890s-1965
Physical Description 39 linear feet (73 document boxes, 4 half-sized document boxes, 6 record cartons, 2 flat boxes, 1 cassette box)
Language(s) Material is in English.
Access

The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 5-86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two (2) business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Arrangement

Arrangement

This collection is arranged in 11 series. Selected items cataloged; remainder arranged.

Description

Summary

Dawn Powell (1896-1965) was an American author of novels, plays, and short stories. The collection includes address books, appointment books, artwork, books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, ephemera, family materials, manuscripts, notes, notebooks, photographs, programs, research files, reviews, and scrapbooks.

The collection contains a great deal of correspondence, but it is scattered throughout the collection. Series I: Cataloged Correspondence was processed and arranged in the 1990s at the item level, with personal, family, and professional correspondence being arranged by name and then by date. Other correspondence was processed and arranged at the file level, and is filed in Series II: Arranged Correspondence and Series IX: Family Materials. There are also files in Series IV and Series X that include correspondence.

The papers include many manuscripts and typescripts of Powell's published and unpublished works. These materials can be found in Series III: Manuscripts and Related Materials. Where it is known that a work has multiple titles, these are noted in the finding aid, but these notes are not exhaustive, particularly for short stories. Series III also include copies of published plays and clippings of published articles, plays, reviews, and short stories. The collection also includes copies of many of Powell's published novels and these can be found in Series VII: Books.

Powell's professional files in Series IV: Professional Files include general clippings files and subject files. These include articles on Powell, contracts, correspondence, financial information, programs, remarks, and reviews of Powell's books and plays. Most subject files are related to specific projects or works. Files kept by Powell's executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, are also filed in Series IV, and include correspondence, financial, and legal records related to her handling of the estate from the 1960s-1990s.

The collection also includes a large amount of photographs, primarily personal and professional photographs of Powell, her family, and places of residence in both New York and Ohio.

Powell's personal files are also included in the collection, and include address books, appointment books, clippings on various subjects, diaries, various notes and notebooks, personal documents, school records, sketches and drawings, and travel records. There are also materials related to her family, including clippings, correspondence, journals, obituaries, photographs, school magazines, theater scrapbooks, and wills.

A few miscellaneous files are filed in Series X as chronological files. The materials in these files are loosely related by time period, but not to any particular personal or professional subject.

The provenance of this collection made the arrangement of the material difficult during processing. Powell's papers were left to an executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, after Powell's death in 1965. The papers largely came under the control of Tim Page in the 1990s, although some boxes of additional material were received after Rice's death in 2004. It is unclear how Powell filed and maintained her papers at this point: some material was clearly rearranged by others while other material was highly disorganized and required arrangement by the processing archivist. The source of any identifying notes and labels was unclear at the time of processing. Lastly, portions of the collection were deposited and then either donated or sold to Columbia University in several different tax years during the period of 1995-2014, and this affected how the papers were organized, processed, and maintained by the Library until processing of all collection materials was completed in 2019.

Another consequence of this history is that the collection includes correspondence and other records that date from well after Powell's death. These records were created and maintained primarily by Tim Page, Jacqueline Miller Rice, John Sherman, and by Powell's son, Jojo. Both Rice and Sherman generated and maintained files related to Powell's estate well into the 1990s, as Rice was Powell's executrix, and Sherman became Jojo's guardian after Powell's death. Jojo wrote to both Rice and Sherman throughout his life, and that correspondence is included in this collection, as well as his journal recording his memories of his mother, Dawn Powell. Lastly, correspondence, research files, and other records created by Tim Page in the course of his research work and the publication of his books on Powell are also included in this collection.

  • Series I: Cataloged Correspondence

    This series contains correspondence that was processed and arranged at the item level in the 1990s. Additional information on this correspondence can be found in the corresponding card catalog in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

    Among the cataloged correspondents are: Malcolm Cowley (4 letters); John Dos Passos (57 letters); Ernest Hemingway (1 letter); Gerald and Sara Murphy (23 letters); Mark Schorer (2 letters); Edmund Wilson (15 letters); and Powell's own letters to her family.

    See Series II for additional correspondence.

  • Series II: Arranged Correspondence

    This series contains correspondence that was processed and arranged at the file level. See Series I: Cataloged Correspondence, for additional correspondence files.

    This series contains both personal and professional correspondence. There is some additional professional correspondence in both Series IV and Series X.

    For family correspondence, see Series I, IX and X.

  • Series III: Manuscripts and Related Materials

    This series contains clippings, manuscripts, typescripts, notes, and other materials related to Powell's published and unpublished works. Series III includes copies of published plays and clippings of published articles, reviews, and short stories. The collection also includes copies of many of Powell's published novels and these can be found in Series VII: Books.

    Where it is known that a work has multiple titles, these are noted in the finding aid, but these notes are not exhaustive, particularly for short stories.

  • Series IV: Professional Files

    This series contains clippings files with articles on Powell and reviews of her books and plays, as well as various subject files. There are also files related to Powell's estate kept by her executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, from the 1960s-1990s.

  • Series V: Personal and Biographical Files

    This series contains address books, appointment books, biographical statements, clippings files, diaries, financial records, notebooks, obituaries, personal documents, school notebooks and records, travel records, and copies of Powell's will.

  • Series VI: Photographs

    This series contains primarily personal and professional photographs of Powell, her family, and places of residence in both New York and Ohio. Many photographs were identified by Tim Page in the course of his research work, but the series also contains many unidentified snapshots.

  • Series VII: Books

    This series contains published editions of Powell's novels, as well as a few items published by friends.

  • Series VIII: Sketches and Drawings

    This series contains various sketches and drawings, many with captions.

  • Series IX: Family Materials

    This series contains material related to Powell's husband, son, and other extended family members. The records include address books, clippings, correspondence, diaries, financial records, journals, obituaries, school magazines, theater scrapbooks, and wills.

    All photographs can be found in Series VI: Photographs.

  • Series X: Chronological Materials

    This series contains several folders of mixed material that was largely disorganized, but roughly grouped together by time period. The folders include clippings, correspondence, drafts, miscellaneous manuscripts, notes, royalty statements, and other materials.

  • Series XI: Tim Page Files

    This series contains articles, clippings, correspondence, proofs, research materials, typescripts, and other materials related to the research and publication of Page's books on Powell.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: Boxes 5-86. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least two (2) business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

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); Dawn Powell papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Letters of John Dos Passos & Edmund Wilson Cataloged HR 02/02/1996.

Letter from Dawn Powell to her sisters Cataloged HR 04/09/1996.

Cowley, Hemingway, Murphey, Schorer letters Cataloged HR 02/26/1997.

Letters to Dawn Powell Processed HR 03/11/1998.

4 scrapbooks of J.R. Gousha Processed HR 03/02/1999.

Mss. & proofs Processed HR 05/28/1999.

Papers Cataloged HR 10/09/2000.

4 Diaries & printed materials Processed HR 10/09/2000.

Boxes 1-26 of this collection were processed by HR, 1996-2000. Additional material (Boxes 27-86) was processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Jessica Liston (Columbia College 2020), 2016-2019.

Revision Description

2009-07-07 File created.

2011-03-08 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.

Genre/Form

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Announcements Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Appointment books Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Authors, American Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bills Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Biographies Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Contracts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Copyrights Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Essays Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fiction Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Financial records Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
First drafts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Galley proofs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Greeting cards Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Indexes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Itineraries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Journals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leases Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts for publication Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newsletters Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Notes Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Page proofs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Programs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Proofs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Receipts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reviews Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scripts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tickets Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Abbott, George, 1887-1995 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Artists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Astor, Brooke Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Barton, Bruce, 1886-1967 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Blume, Peter, 1906-1992 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Burke, C. G (Cornelius G.) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cheever, John Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Children with mental disabilities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Coates, Robert M (Robert Myron), 1897-1973 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crawford, Cheryl, 1902-1986 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crichton, Kyle, 1896-1960 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Crosby, John, 1912-1991 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dancers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Davis, Hassoldt, 1907-1959 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dehn, Adolf, 1895-1968 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dos Passos, John, 1896-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dramatists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Draper, Paul, 1909-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drawings Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Drutman, Irving Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dundy, Elaine Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eastman, Max, 1883-1969 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fadiman, William Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Faragoh, Francis Edwards Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Faulk, John Henry Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Frankenberg, Lloyd, 1907-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Geddes, Norman Bel, 1893-1958 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harris, Jed Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hemingway, Ernest, 1899-1961 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hill, Pati Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Holman, Libby Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hoult, Norah, 1898-1984 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howard, Sidney Coe, 1891-1939 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howe, Louis M (Louis McHenry), 1871-1936 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howe, Quincy, 1900-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Howes, Barbara Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Johnson, Nunnally Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jolas, Eugène, 1894-1952 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Jolas, M Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Josephson, Hannah Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Latouche, John, 1914-1956 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Leclercq, Jacques, 1891-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lewis, Robert, 1909-1997 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Literary agents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lowry, Malcolm, 1909-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lowry, Robert, 1919-1994 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Marsh, Reginald, 1898-1954 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Mitchell, Joseph, 1908-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Murphy, Gerald, 1888-1964 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Murphy, Sara Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Musicians Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Newton, Eric, 1893-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Norman, Charles, 1904-1996 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Novelists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
O'Neil, George, 1898-1940 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Payne, Robert, 1911-1983 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
People with mental disabilities Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Perkins, Maxwell E (Maxwell Evarts), 1884-1947 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Phillips, William, 1907 November 14- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Ratchford, Fannie Elizabeth, 1887-1974 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Riggs, Lynn, 1899-1954 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Robertson, Bryan Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Saxon, Lyle, 1891-1946 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Schorer, Mark, 1908-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scott, Evelyn, 1883- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Scrapbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Seldes, Gilbert, 1893-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Smith, William Jay, 1918-2015 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Speare, Dorothy, 1898-1951 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stearns, Monroe Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stout, Rex, 1886-1975 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Studin, Charles H Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sullivan, Frank, 1892-1976 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Swados, Harvey Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tawney, Lenore Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Theater -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Thompson, Fred, 1900-1987 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Tresca, Carlo, 1879-1943 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Turnbull, Andrew, 1921-1970 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wheelock, John Hall, 1886-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
White, Katharine Sergeant Angell Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wilson, Edmund, 1895-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wilson, Rosalind Baker Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women authors, American Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women dramatists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Women novelists Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Yorck, Ruth, 1909-1966 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Dawn Powell was born on November 28, 1896 in Mount Gilead, Ohio.

Powell was the second of three daughters born to Roy King and Hattie (née Sherman) Powell. Hattie Powell died in 1903, and as her father often worked as a traveling salesman, Powell lived with a series of relatives after her death. Roy King Powell married Sabra Stearns in 1907, and thereafter left his daughters in their stepmother's care. After Stearns proved to be abusive, Powell ran away from home in 1910 to live with her aunt, Orpha May Sherman Steinbrueck, in Shelby, Ohio. Aunt May supported both Powell's education and her literary work. Powell went to Shelby High School, and with the financial assistance of her aunt, neighbors, and the college, went to college at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio.

After graduating from Lake Erie College in 1918, Powell went to New York City, where she lived for the remainder of her life. After her arrival in the city, Powell did free-lance writing for newspapers and magazines, and worked at a series of jobs. While she was working for the Interchurch World Movement, she met Joseph R. Gousha, and they were married in November 1920. Their only child, Joseph "Jojo" R. Gousha, Jr., was born on August 22, 1921. He was severely handicapped, with what today might be diagnosed as autism.

Powell ultimately wrote sixteen novels, several plays, and more than 100 short stories. She also kept extensive diaries, particularly after 1930. Whither, her first novel, was published in 1925, although Powell always referred to She Walks in Beauty (1928) as her first novel. Reviews of early novels were uneven, and they were not commercially successful. Powell published several other novels during the 1930s and 1940s, including Turn, Magic Wheel (1936), Angels on Toast (1940), A Time to be Born (1942), which was her greatest commercial success, My Home is Far Away (1944), and The Locusts Have No King (1948). Later novels included The Golden Spur (1962), which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1963.

Powell was known for her stinging social satires. Although some of her work was admired by critics, it was not commercially successful on the whole. Most of Powell's published novels and plays were out of print at the time of her death in 1965. Long after her death, an essay was written by Gore Vidal in 1987 prompted a rediscovery of her work. During the 1990s, Tim Page worked with Powell's family to free Powell's papers and copyrights from the control of her original executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice. After this was accomplished, a biography and selections from Powell's diaries and letters were published by Tim Page, and many of her works came back into print.

Powell died on November 14, 1965 in New York City, of colon cancer. She donated her body to Cornell Medical Center for medical research, and was eventually buried at Hart's Island after her executrix, Jacqueline Miller Rice, declined to claim her remains five years later.