Guide to the Elizabeth Head Fetter Papers
1931-1971

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Lees, Hannah, 1904-1973
Title: Elizabeth Head Fetter papers
Dates: 1931-1971 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 7.5 linear feet (5 containers)
Collection Number: Ax 743
Summary: Elizabeth Head Fetter (1904-1972) was an author of mystery novels and novels dealing with female psychology, and a free-lance writer of short stories and magazine articles. The collection contains professional and personal correspondence including fan mail, day journals and travel diaries, manuscript materials, book reviews by Fetter, photographs and published material.
Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1299
(541) 346-3068
spcarref@uoregon.edu

Languages: Collection materials are in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Historical Note

Elizabeth Head Fetter (1904-1972) began her career as an advertising copy writer in Philadelphia but gave it up in the early 1930's to become a free-lance writer, which she pursued until her death in 1972, writing under the name of Hannah Lees. She also lectured at Bryn Mawr on experimental writing (1952-1956). Her community interests included the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations (Housing Committee), The NAACP, and Planned Parenthood.

From the 1930s to the 1970s Fetter wrote numerous short stories and magazine articles on the topics of mental health, medicine, marital problems, travel, nature, and social ills. She often wrote under the pseudonym Hannah Lees.

Her most widely acknowledged book was Help Your Husband Stay Alive (1958), but she received critical praise for her three mystery novels: Prescription for Murder (1941), Death in the Doll's House (1943), and The Dark Device (1944). She was also critically praised for her novels dealing with female psychology: Till the Boys Come Home (1944), and Sweet Death of Candor (1969).

Content Description

The collection contains professional and personal correspondence including fan mail, day journals and travel diaries, manuscript materials, book reviews by Fetter, photographs and published material.

The correspondence and journals illuminate the conflict Fetter felt between her obligation to her family and her obligation to her own literary talent, her personal philosophy and its eventual interpretation through her novels, and her fear of a loss of creative writing powers. The correspondence with agents Paul Reynolds, Connie Smith, and Pat Schartle are especially complete and illuminating.

Correspondence is separated into professional incoming letters and personal letters, both organized alphabetically by name or title. Outgoing correspondence is organized by date (1931-1971) and there is a separate section of fan mail and responses by Fetter.

Manuscript material is separated into book-length manuscripts, and magazine articles and short story manuscripts. Book-length material includes drafts, outlines, synopsis, notes, proofs, corrections, revisions, and comments organized by title of work. Titles consist of "Ivy and the Id," "Mao," Shadow of a Joke," "Sweet Death of Candor," "Wives and Mothers," "You Never Really Know Anybody," and for an unfinished novel. Magazine and short story material includes drafts, notes, outlines, holograph corrections, and research material organized by title of work.

There is also a section of poetry manuscripts and book reviews by Fetter; material is organized by title of work. Other writings include novel and article ideas, T.V. scripts, a playlet, composition course notes, speech and personal notes, school notebooks, biographical material and photographs. Also available in this section are travel diaries for trips to Russia and Guatemala.

The rest of the collection contains published versions of articles, short stories, and serialized novels organized alphabetically by title.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use :  

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival records many contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation :  

[Identification of item], Elizabeth Head Fetter papers, Ax 743, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Collection is organized into the following series: Correspondence - Incoming Professional, Correspondence - Personal, Manuscripts - Book Length, Manuscripts - Magazine Articles and Short Stories, Poetry and Book Reviews, and Magazine Publications, Articles, Short Stories and Serialized Novels.

Processing Note :  

Collection processed by staff, 1973.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.

Additional Reference Guides :  

Paper finding aid with additional information is available in Special Collections & University Archives.


Subjects

  • Personal Names :
  • Lees, Hannah, 1904-1973
  • Lees, Hannah, 1904-1973--Correspondence
  • Lees, Hannah, 1904-1973--Diaries
  • Subject Terms :
  • American literature--20th century
  • American literature--Women authors
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Detective and mystery stories, American--Authorship
  • Poetry--Authorship
  • Short stories--Authorship
  • Women authors, American--20th century
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Correspondence
    • Manuscripts for publication
    • Mystery fiction
    • Novels
    • Poetry
    • Short stories

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