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Hal Higdon (1931- ) Papers

Identifier: 55/7

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Scope and Contents

The Hal Higdon Papers, comprising three boxes of material spanning the years 1961-1973, consist primarily of research and background material for Higdon's articles on management consulting and his book The Business Healers. Also included are typed manuscript chapters of The Business Healers in various stages of revision.

The correspondence and research materials, the bulk of which falls between 1965 and 1971, is divided into three categories: general, sales, and post-publication comment.

The research materials for The Business Healers include interview notes and transcripts of interviews; articles and newspaper clippings; correspondence and reports.

The material pertaining to The Business Healers includes: text outlines; correspondence concerning potentially libelous sections; publication advertising; its introduction; all typed manuscript chapters of the text, except for the twelfth chapter; typescript sections not included in the final text; and appendix materials. The typed manuscript for Chapter XII entitled "The Business of Hiring the Boss" could not be located, but an early version of the chapter is contained in Box 1, Folder 9.

A few galley proofs are scattered within the folders. The chapter folders contain typed manuscript copies in various rewrite stages. The stage closest to the final publication version has been placed on top, with drafts below stretching back to the earliest draft on the bottom.

Description of the Additions, Boxes 4-18 (1963-1983)

The additions to the Hal Higdon Papers comprise fifteen boxes (including one half-size box), spanning the years 1963-1983, and consist mainly of correspondence, research, background material, and many drafts and typescripts, for his numerous books and magazine articles, as well as several unpublished and unfinished projects. The additions reflect Higdon's research process on a variety of different projects, many of them sports-related, ranging from running to race-cars. Of interest are the series of interviews with sports figures for such books as Finding the Groove (about the Indy 500) and Hitting, Pitching, and Fielding. Materials relate both to publications under Higdon's name as well as his ghost-writing projects.

The original order of the manuscript files as maintained by Higdon has been retained, based upon the bibliography of his works, compiled by Higdon himself, which can be found in box 4, folder 1. Along with the bibliography, Higdon included one-page typewritten summaries, explaining the process of writing each of the works contained here.

These summaries vividly reveal the personality and method of a busy professional writer. They shed some insight into how Higdon came up with ideas for his books, how he worked through the process of creating them, and his relationships (and in some case, struggles) with his editors. For example, several of his works are based upon tape-recorded interviews (Pro Football, USA, Finding the Groove, Find the Key Man, Hitting, Pitching and Fielding among them). The reason for this is simple: it was successful. As each book created using this format did well, Higdon and his editors decided to do another book, focusing on a different sport.

These summaries also show is that Higdon's fictional children's books (The Horse That Played Center Field, The Electronic Olympics, and The Last Season) were created during brainstorming sessions between Higdon and his editor, most often during lulls between Higdon's other writing assignments.

The summaries also chronicle in brief fashion Higdon's relationship with Bob Anderson, his editor at Runner's World magazine and World Publications. Higdon later began working for another running magazine, The Runner.

With the exception of Report from POD Four, the unpublished or unfinished works in the collection came about in the same way: in each case, Higdon was approached by an outside party interested in a book being written on a certain topic or person, Higdon did a fair amount of work on it (if not outright completing it), and then determined that there would be no market for the work. Report from POD Four, on the other hand, was written as a labor of love; the manuscript chronicled Rose Higdon's return to teaching.

The folders have been arranged based upon the working process of creating each book (for example, the folders begin with correspondence about the work, followed by any working materials, interviews, and any additional or side articles written from his notes. These are followed by outlines, drafts, and typescripts of the book itself, and finally, by reviews of the book). Not all of his total works are represented here, nor are all of the above mentioned steps to be found for each of the books.

Royalties files document Higdon's relationships with publishers, including Higdon's long-running efforts (and eventual lawsuit) to reclaim royalties.


  • 1961-1983


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


18.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Hal Higdon authored or edited over a dozen books, primarily non-fiction, on varied topics ranging from sports to management consulting firms. The Hal Higdon Papers consist of correspondence, background material, and many drafts and typescripts for his numerous books and magazine articles, as well as several unpublished and unfinished projects. The papers reveal the personality and method of a busy professional writer. They shed some insight into how Higdon came up with ideas for his books, how he worked through the process of creating them, and his relationships with his editors.

Arrangement Note

The original order of the papers as maintained by Higdon has been essentially retained, but material within each folder has been rearranged chronologically. The folders have been arranged by correspondence and research materials; research materials for The Business Healers; and materials pertinent to the writing of The Business Healers.

Method of Acquisition

The Hal Higdon Papers were donated to the Northwestern University Archives by Mr. Higdon on February 4, 1977.

The additions to the Hal Higdon Papers were donated to the Northwestern University Archives by Rory Telander of the American Heritage Center, located at the University of Wyoming, on December 5, 2006 (Accession #06-194).

Related Materials

See Also: Hal Higdon Papers held by the Chicago History Museum.

Partial list of book-length publications to 1983 (see also bibliography. Box 4, folder 1):

The Union vs. Dr. Mudd (Follett, 1964)

Heroes of the Olympics (Prentice Hall, 1965)

Pro Football, USA (Putnam, 1968)

The Horse That Played Center Field (Holt, 1969)

The Business Healers (Random House, 1970)

Champions of the Tennis Court (Prentice-Hall, 1971)

The Electronic Olympics (Holt, 1971)

On the Run From Dogs to People (Regnery, 1971)

Thirty Days in May: The Indy 500 (Putnam, 1971)

Finding the Groove (Putnam, l973)

The Last Series (Dutton, 1974)

Find the Key Man (Putnam, 1974)

The Crime of the Century; the Leopold and Loeb Case (Putnam, 1975)

Six Seconds to Glory [Don Prudhomme's greatest drag race] (Putnam, 1975)

Showdown at Daytona (Putnam, 1976)

Summer of Triumph (Putnam, 1977)

Fitness After Forty (World, 1977)

Beginner's Running Guide (World, 1978)

Hitting, Pitching and Fielding (Putnam, 1978)

Runner's Cookbook (World, 1979)

Johnny Rutherford, Indy Champion (Putnam, 1980)

The Marathoners (Putnam, 1980)

The Team That Played in the Space Bowl (Dutton, 1981)

Separated Materials

Nine inches of duplicate and extraneous material was discarded. Thirty-one copies of hardbound and paperback books, all written by Higdon, were separated and added to the Archives' book collection.

Processing Information

Boxes 1 - 3 processed by Roberta Piccoli, November, 1977. Additions processed Ely Sheinfeld, February - April, 2007.

Guide to the Hal Higdon (1931- ) Papers
Roberta Piccoli, Ely Sheinfeld
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US