Nancy Hale Papers
Scope and Contents of the Collection
The Nancy Hale Papers consist of 33 linear feet of biographical material; correspondence; diaries; photographs; subject files; and extensive notes, drafts, typescripts, publicity, and reviews of many of her speeches and writings. The materials date from 1908 to 1989, with the bulk dating from the 1950s through Hale's death in 1988. Though the papers contain some important earlier materials, Hale seems to have more consciously saved things after she became connected with the Sophia Smith Collection in the early 1960s. The papers provide significant information about Hale's life and work; her family relationships; the relationships between writers and their agents and editors; the life of a modern professional woman writer; as well as many of the topics that interested Hale, such as creativity, human psychology, the New England character, and faculty politics in educational institutions.
The main subject of the Papers is Hale's writing. The Writings series comprises more than half of the total bulk of the papers. Contained within it are manuscript and published versions of many of Hale's works along with research materials and notes which document the evolution of the pieces and the ideas motivating their creation. The notebooks in SERIES II. CORRESPONDENCE often contain similar documentation of Hale's creative process, mixed with notes on a variety of topics. The drafts and notes are full of introspective explorations which are an unexpectedly revealing source of information about their author and about a variety of subjects of interest to her. Where available, the extensive drafts also show clearly the care Hale took in constructing her works.
The role of editors and agents in the writing process is well documented in SERIES VII. WRITINGS, particularly through the correspondence between Hale and her agent Elizabeth Nowell. In addition, the correspondence with writer and editor friends filed in the General correspondence in SERIES II, is also revealing. Of particular interest is the correspondence with William Maxwell as well as that with other New Yorker colleagues and a plethora of other writers.
Essentially a part of the larger Hale Family Papers in the Sophia Smith Collection, Nancy Hale's Papers augment the rich documentation of that distinguished New England family, primarily through the Family correspondence in SERIES II, but also through her writings, especially those about her parents (A New England Girlhood, and The Life in the Studio) and her great uncle Charles Hale (Charlieshope) in SERIES VII. Hale's complex and difficult personal life make her early adulthood correspondence with her mother particularly interesting.