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Jean H. Hagstrum (1913-1995) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/11/7

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Description, Boxes 1-35

The biographical materials include curricula vitae, news releases, notes, certificates for awards, and related items. Newspaper clippings provide information on Hagstrum's lectures, publications, awards, and interviews, and numerous programs help document many of his addresses, papers, and organizational activities.

Material in the educational background files pertains to Hagstrum's undergraduate and graduate career. It consists primarily of lecture notes. There are also a few reading notes and several papers submitted as course work. Of special interest are the lecture notes from Hagstrum's master's program courses at Northwestern given by Ralph Dennis, A.E. Case, H.B. Hustvedt, Zera Fink, R.H. Heidbrink, and V.B. Heltzel. The material relating to Hagstrum's doctoral program at Yale includes notes on several courses given by Chauncey Brewster Tinker and a bound carbon copy of his dissertation, “The Sermons of Samuel Johnson.”

The correspondence is divided into two groups where possible retaining Hagstrum's original arrangement. The first group is arranged alphabetically by subject, organization, or individual. The second group is arranged chronologically.

The first group includes letters and related items concerning applications for grants or relating to organizational matters of several societies and committees; letters of recommendation; and general and personal correspondence. Folder 9 in Box 4 contains materials collected or issued by ad hoc committees charged with making recommendations for appointments and tenure for members of the art history faculty. Many letters and resumes may also be found in the files relating to Comparative Literature. For several years Hagstrum was in charge of recommendations for appointments in the field.

Hagstrum's personal and professional correspondence with Richard Ellmann, Paul Elmen, and Karl and William Olsson is of special interest. These letters deal with literary contributions and personal matters, and include comments on visits to various countries in Europe. The correspondence with Ellmann also discusses various matters relating to the English Department at Northwestern.

The correspondence with Elmen and the Olssons includes many exchanges on literary criticism and religious matters.

The folders of correspondence relating to the English Department include many letters of recommendation and evaluations of students and faculty members for positions as teachers or administrators.

The folders of “foreign” correspondence contain letters from many of Hagstrum's friends, colleagues, and former students abroad (especially from England, France, Italy, and India) as well as more formal correspondence pertaining to access and use of literary and artistic collections.

The folder titled “Great Men” (Box 7, folder 7) includes letters to and from Stephen Spender, Chauncey Brewster Tinker, Geoffrey Keynes, and others. Less significant letters are from George McGovern, Sean O'Faolain, Edward Weeks and Lessing Rosenwald, among others. Of special note are nine letters from Stanley Kunitz pertaining to an article Hagstrum was writing on Kunitz for TriQuarterly and concerning scheduling for an appearance by Kunitz. Two letters from Theodore Roethke deal with the arrangements for Roethke readings at Northwestern.

There are eleven letters from Stephen Spender and twenty-two from Tinker. The Spender letters for the most part deal with dinners or parties held at the Hagstrums'. However, two deal with such personal matters as the illness of Nastasha Spender, contractual relations between Spender and Northwestern, Spender's marriage with Eva May Morris, and his efforts to become an American citizen. The letters from Chauncey Brewster Tinker concern Hagstrum's writing and teaching, applications for grants, and family matters. Tinker comments on his own work and the academic situation in the U.S. and Europe.

Other correspondence concerns the Central Region of the Johnson Society, in particular its annual meeting held in Evanston on May 4-5, 1979.

Hagstrum served for three years, 1972-1975, as a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Mellon Center for British Art and British Studies at Yale, and there is material in his papers relating to the development of the Center and its functions.

Hagstrum's activities as a member and officer of the Modern Language Association, primarily as a member of the MLA Executive Committee (1968-1972) are well documented by six folders of material. The 1968 annual meeting in New York was marked by political demonstrations. These, and the transfer of the 1969 meeting from Chicago to Denver, are discussed in some of the letters and memos.

One of Hagstrum's most innovative educational programs was a yearlong seminar for college teachers (1976-1977) held at Northwestern with the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Folders in Boxes 9 and 10 document in part the development and progress of the seminar.

Boxes 10 (Folders 6-10), 11, and 12 (Folders 1-3) contain many of Hagstrum's recommendations for faculty members and students for academic positions, graduate programs, fellowships, etc. Occasionally substantial amounts of biographical information accompany the recommendations.

The second category of correspondence, arranged chronologically, contains a mixture of personal, organizational, and University-related letters, as well as letters written in connection with Hagstrum's research.

The graduate student files include letters, applications, notes, drafts, and summaries of papers and dissertations pertaining to Hagstrum's doctoral students. In several cases where the student later taught in Hagstrum's areas of interest, the folder contains correspondence extending beyond the student period. The letters deal primarily with scholarly articles and books but they also touch on academic employment and occasionally on personal matters.

The course materials include primarily notes for lectures and some reading notes, reading lists, exam sheets, syllabi, and student papers. Several folders include copies of Hagstrum's notes to students assigning term or exam grades and explaining, often in some detail, why a particular grade was given. These notes reveal much about Hagstrum as a teacher. The folders are arranged numerically by course number. Most pertain to courses offered at Northwestern but there are a few folders for courses Hagstrum gave at the University of Iowa and North Park College.

The addresses file includes both dated and undated manuscripts for speeches given by Hagstrum, some notes, and a small amount of relevant correspondence. In most cases there is just one version of each speech. Since some were recast for publication, the addresses and publications files should be consulted in tandem.

The final seven boxes (29 through 35) contain materials pertaining to Hagstrum's various articles, reviews and books. They are arranged alphabetically according to the subject of each work or its title.


  • 1921-1995


Conditions Governing Access

Sensitive materials may be present in Box 44, Folder 9; Box 6, Folder 8, Box 9, Folders 6-16, 18; Box 10, Folder 6 through Box 12, Folder 3; and Box 18, Folder 5 through Box 22, Folder 6; consultation with University Archivist required prior to use. 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.


55.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



Jean Howard Hagstrum taught English Literature at Northwestern University from 1940 until his retirement in 1981. His extensive papers document his educational, teaching, administrative, and scholarly career.

Arrangement Note

The Jean Hagstrum Papers were received in multiple donations. Each donation is titled with the number of its series and addition, along with the box number and span dates. The material in the folders in each series is arranged chronologically.

Method of Acquisition

The Jean Hagstrum Papers were donated to the University Archives by Professor Jean Hagstrum on April 3, 1979, May 22, 1979, and June 8, 1981 as Accessions #79-49, #79-89, and #81-129.

Related Materials

For additional material documenting Hagstrum's committee work at Northwestern and his philosophy of higher education see Series 4/5/4, Records of the Faculty Planning Committee.

Separated Materials

Fifteen photographs were transferred to the Jean Hagstrum file in the Archives Photographic Collection.

Other Descriptive Information

NOTE: The Jean Hagstrum Papers consist of an original 35-box series, completed in 1981; over the years, numerous additions have increased the volume of the Papers to 55 boxes. The Additions are each described within the container list below. Each Addition to the Papers has been arranged into the same categories as the original series. Therefore, it is important to check through the entire Container List to locate all possible materials relating to a topic.

Processing Information

William K. Beatty, June 15-Oct 14, 1981.

Guide to the Jean H. Hagstrum (1913-1995) Papers
William K. Beatty et al.
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