Guide to the Moody E. Prior (1901-1996) Papers

Collection Title: Moody E. Prior (1901-1996) Papers
Dates: 1924-1996
Identification: 11/3/11/30
Creator: Prior, Moody E. (Moody Erasmus), 1901-
Extent: 6 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Moody E. Prior Papers fill six boxes and span the years 1924 through 1996. The bulk of the material in the series dates between 1946 and 1975. Included are biographical materials and clippings; general and subject correspondence; a number of Prior's speech texts, his Master's thesis, unpublished writings, commentaries, eulogies, notes, awards, and publication reprints. Most of the publications by Prior included in the collection relate to Shakespeare and other British literature, however there is an article on the character of Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin that shows an interest in American literature.
Acquisition Information: The Moody Prior Papers is comprised of five accessions: #83-138, #89-148, #96-225, #97-37, and #03-98, donated to the University Archives by Moody and Carlene Prior. Materials from the University Archives' Faculty Biographical Files have been incorporated into the Papers.
Processing Information: Patricia Sione and Kevin B. Leonard; November, 1996 and February, 1997. Leishman letters processed by Kevin B. Leonard; April 1997. Additional material incorporated and finding-aid revised by Sarah Rose; August 2003.
Separated Materials: Prior's doctoral hood and the Alumni Medal awarded to Prior by the Northwestern University Alumni Association in 1968 were separated from the collection in 2003 and added to the Archives' Artifacts Collection.
Conditions Governing Access: None.
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

English professor Moody Erasmus Prior (birth name Papadapolous) was born on September 29, 1901, in Fatsa, Turkey. He studied at Northwestern before becoming a member of the English faculty in 1924. Prior was an active member of the campus community, serving as Department Chair and Director of Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School amongst other appointments. His research interests focused on English drama and he was considered an authority on Shakespeare.

Prior arrived in the United States in 1906, and became an American citizen in 1914. He pursued his undergraduate and part of his graduate studies at Northwestern University where he received his B.S. degree in 1923 and his M.A. in 1924. In 1930 Prior took his doctorate from the University of Chicago.

Prior returned to Northwestern University as an instructor in English at Northwestern from 1924 to 1927. He then served as Assistant Professor, 1930-1937; Associate Professor, 1937-1944; and Full Professor, 1944-1948. He was named the John C. Shaffer Professor in the Humanities and English in 1948 and held this professorship until his retirement in 1969, when Northwestern accorded him emeritus status.

Prior served the English Department at Northwestern as Chairman, 1944-1945, and Director of Graduate Studies, 1964-1969. He was Dean of the University's Graduate School between 1951 and 1964. Prior was instrumental in establishing the Northwestern University Press in 1956 and served as its first President and as a member of its Board between 1956 and 1969. In addition, he was Vice Chair of the Library Planning Committee and of the University Committee on Planning. Northwestern awarded Prior its Alumni Medal in 1968.

Prior was active in a number of professional and scholarly associations and institutions. Between 1960 and 1962 he served as Vice President and President of the Association of Graduate Schools. He was a Rockefeller Foundation consultant to the National Council of Education of Thailand during the winter of 1966. Prior was an administrative consultant to the Newberry Library, 1972-1973, and Chairman of its Grants Committee, 1973-1976. He was a member of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Committee, the Princeton University English Department Visiting Committee, and the American Academy of Sciences' National Committee to study post-doctoral programs.

Prior's primary research interests included English drama and the literature and thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He was an authority on Shakespeare. He published extensively, including three books: The Language of Tragedy (1947), Science and the Humanities (1962), and The Drama of Power, Studies in Shakespeare's History Plays (1973).

Prior married Carlene Ehle. The couple had no children. Moody Prior died at the Wagner Health Center in Evanston on October 25, 1996.

Scope and Content

The Moody E. Prior Papers fill six boxes and span the years 1924 through 1996. The bulk of the material in the series dates between 1946 and 1975. Included are biographical materials and clippings; general and subject correspondence; a number of Prior's speech texts, his Master's thesis, unpublished writings, commentaries, eulogies, notes, awards, and publication reprints.

Biographical materials include personal data, passports, the Priors' marriage certificate, the PhD diploma granted by the University of Chicago, obituaries, documents relating to real estate transactions, press releases, and clippings.

Prior's correspondence dates between 1934 and the year of his death. Files are extensive collections of letters written by Moody Prior and his friends and colleagues. One folder contains photocopies of correspondence with Prior's friends Frederick and Frances (Webb) Leishman; these copies were given to Carlene Prior in 1997. Frances Webb Leishman was a 1942 graduate of Northwestern's College of Liberal Arts.

The subject files, which are arranged alphabetically, provide a glimpse of the scope and substance of Prior's scholarly work. Most of the publications by Prior included in the collection relate to Shakespeare and other British literature, however there is an article on the character of Uncle Tom from Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin that shows an interest in American literature. Other folders provide a look at Prior's more personal side, such as the drawings, music and miscellaneous folder, which contains skits, jokes and puzzles among other items. The transcripts of radio addresses that Prior delivered on WFMT are included here, as are speeches, commentaries and eulogies by Prior. Where possible, items are arranged chronologically within the folders.

Two index card file boxes hold notes that Prior may have taken as part of his scholarly research, or as preparation for lectures. Subjects include European history, political history, literature, Shakespeare, and Uncle Tom's Cabin.

An over size folder contains awards given to Prior by the Northwestern University Alumni Association.

Subjects

Corporate Name

Northwestern University (Evanston, Ill.). Department of English

Personal Name

Prior, Moody E. (Moody Erasmus), 1901-

Subjects

English literature--Study and teaching--United States


Container List / Contents

  • Biographical
    • Biographical Materials, 1924-1996, n.d.Box 1, Folder 1
    • Obituaries, 1996Box 1, Folder 2
    • Condominium Purchase, 1965-1967Box 1, Folder 3
    • Northwestern University Press Releases, 1959-1969, 1973Box 1, Folder 4
    • Clippings, 1948-1996, n.d.Box 1, Folder 5
  • Correspondence
    • General Correspondence, 1934-1969Box 1, Folder 6
    • General Correspondence, 1970-1988Box 1, Folder 7
    • General Correspondence, 1989-1996, n.d.Box 1, Folder 8
    • Correspondence: Booth, Wayne, 1983, 1992Box 1, Folder 9
    • Correspondence: Crane, Ronald, 1946-1963Box 1, Folder 10
    • Correspondence: Faverty, Frederic and Margaret; Birthday Poems and Related Materials, ca. 1947-1962, n.d.Box 2, Folder 1
    • Correspondence: Krane, Edna, 1981-1982Box 2, Folder 2
    • Correspondence: Leishman, Frances (Webb) and Freddie, 1944-1994, n.d., 1997Box 2, Folder 3
    • Correspondence: Macdonald, Dwight, 1953-1982, n.d.Box 2, Folder 4
    • Correspondence: Prior, Carlene; Letters of Condolence, 1996Box 2, Folder 5
    • Correspondence: Weiss, Dan, 1952, 1963, 1971, n.d.Box 2, Folder 6
  • Subject Files
    • Drawings, 1992-1993, n.d.Box 2, Folder 7
    • Master's Thesis: “Thomas Warton and the Revival of Interest in the Medieval Romances”, 1924Box 2, Folder 8
    • Miscellaneous, 1996, ca. 1991, n.d.Box 2, Folder 9
    • Music, n.d.Box 2, Folder 10
    • Northwestern University Library: Planning and Architecture, 1963Box 2, Folder 11
    • Publications: Reprints, 1932-1955Box 2, Folder 12
    • Publications: Reprints, 1957-1991Box 2, Folder 13
    • Publications: The Drama of Power, Reviews, 1974-1978Box 2, Folder 14
    • Publications: “Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom”: related articles, correspondence and photos, 1978-1980, 1992Box 2, Folder 15
    • Unpublished Writings on Historical Eras, n.d.Box 3, Folder 1
    • Radio Addresses (Station WFMT): Commentaries on Shakespeare, 1959-1960Box 3, Folder 2
    • Shakespeare: Authorship, 1987, n.d.Box 3, Folder 3
    • Speeches/Commentaries/Eulogies, 1953-1981Box 3, Folder 4
    • Notes on Shakespeare's histories, by subject heading, n.d.
    • Notes filed by subject heading, n.d.
    • Awards (NU Alumni Association), 1968, 1969