17 containers. (14 linear feet of shelf space.) (13,900 items.)
Correspondence, financial, and other
papers related to family matters; the study and teaching of English; Coast
Guard service, 1942-1945; and employment at Washington State University,
1951-1959 and 1964-1976, and the Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington,
Washington State University Libraries Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Funding for encoding this finding
aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the
Charles Edwin Blackburn was born to William Brownlow Blackburn and
Julia Agnes McDonald Blackburn on August 2, 1915, on a farm near Elberton,
Washington. He was the youngest of eleven children. Blackburn attended Tekoa
High School and graduated in 1934 in the midst of the Great Depression.
The Depression played a large role in Blackburn's early adult years.
His father died in April 1934 and the family moved from Tekoa to Moscow, Idaho,
the following June. From 1934 to 1936 he held several different jobs. He worked
in an office as a typist, he sold silk hosiery door-to-door, he worked a
Comptometer in an office in Olympia, and for a time in 1935, was in the
Civilian Conservation Corps. All the while he dreamed of getting to college
-the one all-consuming goal in his life. Yet, he lacked the funds and an
understanding of college admission procedures. In April 1936 he started work in
the office of the West Coast Lumberman's Association in Seattle. In the fall of
the year, while still working part-time, he enrolled at the University of
Washington. He attended college and continued to work for the WCLA until
December 1940, when he decided to devote his full attentions to school. While
attending the U of W he met his future wife Alice Kiser. Both received their
B.A. degrees in 1941, Magna Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa. From 1941-1942, Charles
attended graduate school, while Alice finished her fifth year studies to
complete a Library Science degree.
America's entry into the Second World War delayed Blackburn's
education for several years. He entered the service in the spring of 1942 and
was assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard Station at Westport, Washington, as a
radioman and yeoman. In 1944 he was transfered to the U.S.S. Casper (PF-12) as
a radioman. In addition to his regular duties while on board the Casper he
served as the ship's librarian and published the ship's newspaper, The Casper
Charles Blackburn was discharged from the Coast Guard in late 1945;
like so many young couples of the day, the Blackburns were faced with the task
of rebuilding their lives. Blackburn returned to the University of Washington
to continue his graduate education. In the fall of 1947, after only a year at
the U. of W., he moved on to Yale University to complete his doctorate in
American Studies. While at Yale, he taught English at Stone College (1948-1949)
and the Junior College of Commerce (1949-1950), both in New Haven, Connecticut.
During this time he was awarded a Yale University Fellowship (1949-1950) and a
Sterling Predoctoral Fellowship (1950-1951).
Upon completing the Ph.D.in 1951, Blackburn joined the English faculty
of Washington State University. He served as Chair of the Department of English
By 1959, however, the financial pressures of a growing family
(children: Julia, 1947; Taft, 1949; Mary Beth, 1953) led Blackburn to look for
a better paying position. In June of that year, he began a relatively
short-lived career with the Boeing Company Industrial Products Division in
Seattle, Washington. He started as a technical writer and over the next five
years held several supervisory and administrative posts. Most of Blackburn's
work was in marketing (writing and revising brochures and semi-technical
documents) and administration (preparing and reporting the section's budget and
coordinating his group with the European office). In addition, he was involved
with the Boeing Employees' Good Neighbor Fund, a community service
organization, from 1962-1964. Although Blackburn enjoyed his work and was
promoted quickly, he found that he was not well suited to the business world.
Therefore, from 1960 on he attempted to return to a position in academe.
In 1964, Washington State University again offered Blackburn a
position in the English Department. WSU's attractive offer-- both in terms of
salary and tenure considerations--in combination with Alice's appointment as
Pullman City Librarian, brought the family back to Pullman.
From 1964-1976 Blackburn taught a variety of subjects:
freshman/sophomore composition, technical writing, American Drama, 20th century
Drama, and assorted literature classes. A talented actor himself, Blackburn had
several roles with the New Pullman Summer Palace Theatre.
Blackburn died September 7, 1976 at age 61 in a Springfield, Oregon
hospital where he had been a patient for two weeks after suffering a heart
attack while on vacation.
The collection consists of correspondence, financial, and other papers
related to family matters; the study and teaching of English; Coast Guard
service, 1942-1945; employment at Washington State University, 1951-1959 and
1964-1976; and employment at the Boeing Company, Seattle, Washington,
Use of the Collection
Restrictions on Access :
This collection is open for research use.
Restrictions on Use :
Prior to January 1, 1998, researchers desiring access to
correspondence written between 1941 and 1945 needed permission of Mrs. Alice
Preferred Citation :
[Item Description]. Cage
479, Charles Edwin
Blackburn Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.
The Charles E. Blackburn Papers have been arranged in two series by
the processor: Correspondence Series, 1940-1976, and Subject File Series,
The first series, Correspondence Series, 1940-1976, comprises
approximately one half of the collection and contains letters from many family
members and friends. The original group headings have been retained and then
arranged in what appeared to be the order of importance, i.e.: Blackburn
Family, Kiser Family, General Family, Family and Friends, and Friends.
Principal correspondents in this series are Alice Kiser Blackburn, Eva
(Blackburn) Newsum, Fanny (Blackburn) Rasmussen and Faye Blackburn. The folders
within each group have been arranged chronologically and the original order of
the material within each folder has been preserved. All correspondence for the
period 1941-1945, however, has been restricted until January 1, 1998.
The Subject File Series, 1930-1976, was assembled as a unit by the
processor and brings together loosely ordered materials. The series contains
papers from Blackburn's educational, professional, and personal life. These
materials have been arranged alphabetically by subject heading.
Blackburn's term as Vice-President and later President of the Boeing
Employees' Good Neighbor Fund is represented by agency reports, annual reports,
correspondence, elections and membership, materials, minutes and many predating
his period of service. The remainder of this group of Boeing materials pertains
to Blackburn's job assignment and is made up of a work diary, interdepartmental
correspondence, personal materials, sales staff meeting minutes, and Boeing
The Business, Medical and Financial records include correspondence and
receipts referring to the rental of the Blackburn home in Seattle, auto
repairs, medical records, income tax forms, and record books.
The section of educational materials encompasses Blackburn's entire
academic career including papers from high school, the University of
Washington, Yale University and Washington State University. The four groups
have been arranged in chronological order and folders within each group are
alphabetically ordered. Class notes, papers and exams make up the bulk of this
section. A copy of Blackburn's dissertation (entitled: James Freeman Clarke: An
Interpretation of the Western Years, 1838-1840) and a bound volume of his
research notes are included. The last box in the series contains approximately
4500 dissertation research note cards In addition, some papers from Mrs.
Blackburn's undergraduate years at the University of Washington are part of
this group. The WSU material is mostly concerned with departmental activities
such as correspondence, salary and rank information, promotion and tenure
statements, faculty evaluations, and a small number of items from his 1970-1971
sabbatical in New York City.
Also included in this Subject File Series are the papers of John P.
Sebree, an uncle on Alice's side of the family. He lived with the Blackburn
family from 1969 until his death in 1975. His materials include correspondence,
medical records, a college yearbook, memorials and a copy of his will and trust
Acquisition Information :
The papers of Charles Edwin Blackburn (MS 77-61) were donated to the
Washington State University Libraries by Mrs. Alice Blackburn. Twenty-five
additional items (MS83-35) were donated in 1983.
Detailed Description of the Collection
The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in