Sarett, Lew (1888-1954) Papers Edit




  • 1902-1978 (Creation)


  • 15.00 Boxes (Whole)




  • Abstract

    Lew R. Sarett was a professor of English and public speaking at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University. The Lew Sarett Papers illuminate Sarett's personality and methods as a successful and popular teacher and poet. The Papers also shed light on a time period in American history when themes of respect for nature and for Native Americans found a receptive audience among poetry lovers and lecture audiences. The Papers are arranged in six general categories: Biographical Materials (including Clippings); Correspondence, Teaching Files (including Lecture Notes), Speeches, Publications (including Manuscript Drafts and Notes), and Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks.

  • Scope and Contents

    The Lew Sarett Papers illuminate Sarett's personality and methods as a successful and popular teacher and poet. The Papers also shed light on a time period in American history when themes of respect for nature and for Native Americans found a receptive audience among poetry lovers and lecture audiences.

    The Papers are arranged in six general categories: Biographical Materials (including Clippings); Correspondence, Teaching Files (including Lecture Notes), Speeches, Publications (including Manuscript Drafts and Notes), and Photograph Albums and Scrapbooks.

    Biographical materials include biographies, clippings, obituaries, awards, and other items, and span the years 1926 to 1972 (with a few undated items filed at the end of the folder). The Biography folder contains autobiographical and biographical sketches, press releases, announcements, and two student papers: “Lew Sarett, The Man and His Poetry,” by Palmer Hilty (1929) and “Lew Sarett, The Man,” by J.A. Bitzer (1935). Many of the newspaper and magazine interviews and articles in the Clippings category also contain biographical details. In addition to the folder of Obituaries, see also the Condolence Letters received by Alma Johnson Sarett. Clippings, from newspapers, popular magazines, and professional journals, include notices of Sarett's speaking engagements; interviews with and articles about Sarett; and articles about Sarett's prize-winning dahlias. While many of the clippings cite Sarett's poems, reprints of his poetry will be found in the Publications category. Announcements of Sarett's lectures include promotional flyers for the program in which Sarett and Sandburg appeared together. Clippings span the years 1907 to 1975; one folder contains undated clippings. Of particular note are the lengthy articles about Sarett by Neil Clark from the February and March, 1926, issues of the American Magazine (the typescript of these articles is filed in Folder 4), which emphasize Sarett's transformation from poor urban youth to poet of the wilderness. Most of the clippings documenting Sarett's performances on the lecture circuit are filed in the Clippings Scrapbook (1915-1918) in Box 15. Clippings relating to Sarett's published work, including reviews of his books, are filed in the Reviews folders (loose clippings), Box 12, or in the Clippings Scrapbook (1915-1926) in Box 15.

    Correspondence includes general, literary, and student correspondence, as well as letters of condolence sent to Sarett's wife after her husband's death. General Correspondence spans the years 1910 to 1954. Subject Correspondence includes Sarett's correspondence with his publishers, with Northwestern University faculty and administrators, and with students; audience reaction to Sarett's lecture-recitals; and correspondence relating to the Northwestern University Library event in 1956 which acknowledged Alma Sarett's presentation of her husband's papers to the University. A bound volume, presented to Sarett on his retirement from Northwestern University, contains letters of appreciation from colleagues and former students across the country, arranged in alphabetical order. Sarett corresponded with many writers, poets and other well-known individuals of his time, from Jane Addams to Morton Zabel; these letters (almost exclusively incoming), spanning the years 1916 to 1954, are foldered individually and arranged alphabetically by the surname of the correspondent. The letters are located in Boxes 4 and 5; a list of the “Correspondents of Note” follows.

    Correspondents of Note (A-T, Box 4; U-Z, Box 5)

    Addams, Jane, 1934

    Albright, Horace M., 1921

    Allen, Hervey, 1934

    Amsbary, (Wallace) Bruce, 1922-1925

    Anderson, Sherwood, 1934

    Austin, Mary, 1929

    Bates, Katharine Lee, 1927-1928

    Benet, Stephen Vincent, n.d.

    Benet, William Rose, 1922-1936

    Bodenheim, Maxwell, n.d.

    Braithwaite, William S., 1919-1927

    Canby, Henry Seidel, 1921-1934

    Clark, Neil McCullough, 1925-1929

    Cook, Edmund Vance, 1925-1926

    Corwin, Norman, 1944

    Davidson, Gustav, 1951

    Deutsch, Babette, 1926

    Dillon, George, 1940

    Eastman, Max, 1932-1934

    “Ellery Queen”, 1950-1951

    Farrar, John, n.d.

    Field, Ben, 1926-1927

    Fishbein, Dr. Morris, 1929-1934

    Foerster, Norman, 1927

    Ford, Ford Maddox (Hueffer), 1921

    Frank, Waldo, n.d.

    Frederick, John T., 1921-1927

    Frost, Robert, 1922-1953

    Gard, Wayne, 1925-1927

    Garland, Hamlin, n.d.

    Garnett, Louise Ayers, 1921-1934

    Gilliland, Strickland, n.d.

    Guiterman, Arthur, 1926-1939

    Harrison, Henry, 1931

    Henderson, Alice Corbin, 1919-1922

    Hersholt, Jean, 1941

    Heyward, Du Bose, 1934

    Heywood, Dorothy “Porgy”, 1934

    Hill, Frank, 1921-1928

    Hillyer, Robert, n.d.

    Holmes, John A., 1931-1936

    Horner, Governor Henry, 1934

    Kantor, MacKinlay, 1932

    Kreymborg, Alfred, 1921

    Kinitz, Stanley J., 1933-1939

    Le Gallienne, Richard, 1923-1924

    Lieurance, Thurlow, 1920-1925

    Linderman, Frank B., 1922-1931

    Love, Robertus, 1926

    Lowell, Amy, 1921-1923

    Lowes, John Livingston, 1934

    McCutcheon, John, 1934

    McKay, Claude, 1922

    Markham, Edwin, 1925-1932

    Masters, Edgar Lee, 1941

    Mayo, Dr. Charles H., 1934

    Mencken, H.L., 1934

    Merriam, H.G., 1929

    Monroe, Harriet, 1918-1936

    Moody, Harriet, Mrs. Wm. V, 1925

    Nathan, Robert, 1922-1923

    Neihardt, John Gneisenau, 1928

    O'Donnell, Charles L. CSC, 1925-1928

    Piper, Edwin E., 1919

    Pound, Louise, 1941-1943

    Preston, Keith, n.d.

    Raphaelson, Sampson, 1919-1951

    Rascoe, Burton, 1919-1924

    Read, Opie, 1916-1918

    Ridge, Lola, n.d.

    Robinson, Edwin A., 1925

    Roosevelt, Mrs. Franklin D., 1954

    Sandburg, Carl, 1918-1954

    Sarett, Lew, Jr., 1950-1952

    Scollard, Clinton and Jesse Rittenhouse, 1919-1920

    Seiffert, Mrs. Otto, n.d.

    Sherman, Stuart Pratt, 1919-1923

    Sherry, Laura, 1921

    Sigmund, Jay G., 1925

    Snow, Wilbert, 1925-1935

    Speyer, Leonora, n.d.

    Starrett, Vincent, 1922-1955

    Stork, Charles Wharton, n.d.

    Sullivan, A.M., 1950-1951

    Swift, Ivan, n.d.

    Taft, Lorado, 1934

    Taggard, Geneviève, n.d.

    Teasdale, Sara (Filsinger), 1919

    Tietjens, Eunice, 1921

    Tittle, Ernest F., 1934

    Torrence, Ridgely, 1930

    Untermeyer, Jean Starr, 1921

    Untermeyer, Louis, 1919-1941

    Van Doren, Carl, 1919-1923

    Van Doren, Mark, 1940

    Vinal, Harold, 1925-1928

    Wheelock, John Hall, 1919-1928

    White, William Allen, 1926

    Wiggam, Lionel, n.d.

    Wilder, Thornton, 1934

    Wilkinson, Marguerite, 1919-1927

    Zabel, Morton Dauwen, 1929-1936

    While Sarett's Teaching Files include some folders of syllabi, bibliographies, and exam questions, as well as three folders of notes taken by one of Sarett's students (1928-1933), the bulk of this category is comprised of Sarett's Lecture Notes. The notes fill over five boxes (nearly two linear feet) and provide an in-depth view of Sarett's teaching method and his lecture style. All but a few of the notes are written or typed on 5” x 8” cards. Many cards are undated, since Sarett revised and reused the lecture notes from year to year; some bear such notations as “omit in 1945.” Sets of cards contain outlines of the lecture to be delivered, and many are numbered on the front, but since the cards were used and revised over a long period of time, the numbering is not always continuous or relevant. In most cases the notes appear on only one side of the cards, but occasionally the outline continues on the back of the card, and sometimes striking illustrations of the topic in question, taken from magazines, correspondence or student writing, are pasted onto the card. Several folders are labeled “overflow”; these contain additional lecture notes on the specified topic from which Sarett could choose if he had extra time.

    Sarett's Speeches and Lecture-Recitals materials include outlines, notes, and drafts; separate folders contain undated material. In Sarett's characteristic style, many of the outlines for speeches were typed on note cards. Speeches include several given to organizations such as Rotary and the National Speech Association. Of note is the printed pamphlet “Poland's Offering to the American,” the speech which won Sarett the Wisconsin State Oratorical Championship in 1910 (a copy of his prize-winning speech for 1911 is in the Scrapbook dated 1905-1912). In 1938, Sarett spoke to the Dahlia Society on “The Philosophy of a Dahlia-Grower.” Also of particular interest is the notebook filled with outlines for Sarett's lecture-recitals (circa 1932-1943), revealing his approach to these performances, from packing for the trip to self-motivation and selection of the poems to be recited. An undated folder contains Sarett's settings and choices of poems for proposed recordings of his poetry. During the late thirties and early forties, Sarett wrote a number of “Radio Sketches”—scripts for radio broadcasts consisting of a folkloric tale, an autobiographical incident, or a talk on speech or poetry, combined with readings of his poems or those of other poets. A list of these radio sketches is found in the folder dated 1937-1938. The last folder contains Sarett's notes and drafts for speeches on the occasion of his retirement from Northwestern University in 1953.

    Publications include bibliographies, reviews, and promotional materials as well as clippings and reprints of Sarett's poems. Separate folders hold reviews and promotional materials relating to Sarett's books of poetry and to his textbooks on speech. For reviews of Sarett's early work, see also the Clippings Scrapbook dated 1915-1926. Folders of Manuscripts and Drafts are also divided into poetry and prose. Of particular interest is the draft of one of Sarett's earliest poems, “To a Wild Goose ….” The folders of drafts reveal the extent to which Sarett revised and reworked his poems before their publication. Notes include a transcript of an interview that Sarett conducted with medicine man John Still-Day in 1921, as well as notes taken during a trip to Yellowstone and a list of the American Indian artifacts Sarett collected over the years.

    Sarett's first wife, Margaret Husted Sarett, carefully compiled four Photograph Albums and three Clippings Scrapbooks documenting her husband's life and their life together. The albums and clippings span the years 1905-1926 and are organized by date and/or theme. Mrs. Sarett captioned most of the photographs and identified most of the sources for the clippings. The first page of each photo album has a synopsis of events pictured in the album. The first book of clippings covers Sarett's high school and college years and contains notices of his oratorical competitions and scholastic achievements; the two later scrapbooks hold clippings relating to Sarett's summer lecture tours (1915-1918) and to his publications (1915-1926).

    A note about the Clippings Scrapbooks: two of the Scrapbooks contained pages of overlapping clippings that were brittle, difficult to handle, and unsuited to microfilming. These scrapbooks were sent for treatment to the Northwestern University Library Conservation Department, where the clippings were removed and attached to new, acid-free paper. Page numbers refer to the original page from which the clippings were removed. Captions were transferred from the original pages.

    An oversized folder holds Musical Scores—published or in manuscript—arranged by various people and based on Sarett's poetry, including perhaps his best-known poem, “Four Little Foxes.”

  • Arrangement Note

    Clippings are arranged in chronological order.

    General correspondence is arranged chronologically. Subject correspondence is organized alphabetically by topic and chronologically within the folders.

    Lecture Notes are arranged alphabetically by course name or lecture topic (for example, “Persuasion Course C23” or “Rhyme”) and date between the 1920s and 1953.

    Speeches and Lecture-Recitals are organized chronologically where possible.

  • Method of Acquisition

    The Lew Sarett Papers comprised of two main accessions. The first was donated to the Northwestern University Library by Mrs. Alma Johnson Sarett in 1956, and transferred to the Northwestern University Archives from the Special Collections Department in 1975. The second accession was donated to the University Archives by Helen Sarett Stockdale on May 8, 1985, as Accession No. 85-86. In addition, three folders of notes on Sarett's lectures taken by one of his students were separated from the Agnes Jones Cashman Papers, Series 25/5, on November 23, 1993, and incorporated into this series.

  • Conditions Governing Access


  • Separated Materials

    Three inches of duplicate and extraneous materials were separated from this series. Two silver trophies, awarded to Lew Sarett in 1910 and 1922 at the Wisconsin State Oratorical Contests, were transferred to the University Archives Artifacts Collection. All of Sarett's Indian artifacts were returned to Helen Sarett Stockdale in 2000. As listed below, audio-tapes, a vinyl recording, and one compact disk were transferred to the Archives' Audio-visual collection. Loose photographs were removed and transferred to the Archives' Photograph Collection. Copies of Sarett's volumes of poetry were added to the Archives' Faculty Authors Collection.

    Audio Tapes: “January 14, 1956, Lew Sarett Library Evening” (3 tapes)

    Recording: 33rpm LP, “Lew Sarett - Reading from his Collected Poems”

    CD: “Lew Sarett - Reading from his Collected Poems”–CD-rom version of the above recording, donated by Helen Sarett Stockdale.

  • Related Materials


  • Processing Information

    Mary Moss, 1975; Bonnie-Jeanne Noble and Erik W. Goldstrom, 1985; Rae S. Bielakowski and Janet C. Olson, 2001.

  • Existence and Location of Originals

    The entire contents of the Lew Sarett Papers have been microfilmed as Film # 17913; the 13 reels of microfilm are accessible in the Northwestern University Library's Periodicals/Newspaper Reading Room (paged collection) or through Interlibrary Loan.