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Newton Arvin Papers, 1924-2001
1 box (.25 linear ft.)
Collection number: RG 42

Abstract:
Newton Arvin, professor of English Languages and Literature at Smith College 1922-1960. Scholar of Hawthorne and Melville. Arrested on morals charges in 1959 and retired by the Board of Trustees in 1960. Contains biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, and newspaper clippings.

Terms of Access and Use:

Restrictions on access:

The papers are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA

Biographical Note

Frederick Newton Arvin was born on August 9, 1900 in Valparaiso, Indiana. He earned his bachelor's degree from Harvard in 1921 graduating summa cum laude. After graduation, Arvin taught for a year at a private school in Detroit before joining the faculty of Smith College as an Instructor of English in 1922.

Newton Arvin was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935, and was named a full professor at Smith in 1940. He was acclaimed for his biographies of Melville, Whitman and Hawthorne. Newton was awarded the National Book Award for non-fiction in 1951. As a professor and a writer, Arvin specialized in 19th Century American Literature. Arvin was a member of the Corporation of Yadda, a writer's colony in Saratoga Springs, New York.

As Margot Cleary said in an article which appeared in Hampshire Life in 1991, "Newton Arvin's life was a Jekyll and Hyde affair, a mixture of professional acclaim and personal scandal." Despite a brief marriage to former Smithie, Mary Jordan Garrison from 1932 until 1940, Arvin was living as a closeted gay man. On Labor Day weekend in September of 1960, police raided Arvin's home and confiscated thousands of pictures of male models that were considered pornographic at the time.

Newton Arvin was charged with possession and distribution of pornographic materials, and though he plead not guilty, he later accepted a finding of guilty, which led to a $1, 200 fine, a one year suspended jail sentence, and two years of parole. His arrest, and the confiscation of his journals led to the arrests of several other men in the community, including two of Arvin's colleagues at Smith. Arvin retired from the faculty in 1960 with a small salary. Newton Arvin was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in early 1963, and died on March 21st of that year.

In 1984 Truman Capote, whom Arvin had met at Yadda, on his death established an award and prize in the field of literary criticism in Newton Arvin's honor.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Newton Arvin Papers contain biographical materials, correspondence, photographs, and newspaper clippings covering Arvin's career as a faculty member at Smith College.


Information on Use
Terms of Access and Use
Restrictions on access:

The papers are open for research according to the regulations of the Smith College Archives without any additional restrictions.

Restrictions on use:

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the documents must be requested from the Smith College Archives. Smith College owns copyright to any published material relating to college events and activities. Provenance and copyright ownership of other materials is unknown and researchers are responsible for determining any question of copyright.

Preferred Citation

Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:

Newton Arvin Papers, Box #, Smith College Archives.

History of the Collection

The Newton Arvin Papers were donated over a period of time to the Smith College Archives from a variety of sources


Additional Information
Contact Information
Smith College Archives
Northampton, MA 01063

Phone: (413) 585-2970
Fax: (413) 585-2886

Email: nyoung@smith.edu
URL: http://www.smith.edu/libraries/libs/archives
Language
English

Contents List
Biographical information and obituaries
1951 - 1960

Box 665: folder 1
Articles and photographs
1932 - 1960

Box 665: folder 2
Publications
1924 - 1958

Box 665: folder 3
"The Grounds of Literary Judgment"
1953

Box 665: folder 4
Awards and Prizes
1935 - 1984

Box 665: folder 5
Acceptance speech for National Book Award
1951

Box 665: folder 6
Correspondence
1957

Box 665: folder 7
Articles relating to arrest
1960 -

Box 665: folder 8
B. A. thesis by Stacey Sklar
1998

Box 665: folder 9

Questions about this collection? Contact the archives
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