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American Literary Studies

John Steinbeck Collections

The Collections

Stanford has significant holdings of Steinbeck materials, including manuscripts, notes, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera. These are contained in a number of different collections, each described below.

Location of All Collections: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Finding Guides: Details are listed below with the specific collections.

Research Access and Use: Materials in the Department of Special Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the Special Collections' Reading Room in the Cecil H. Green Library. The Reading Room is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Photocopies, photographs, and microfilm can be made of some materials in the collections. For more information about the collections and access policies, please contact Special Collections by telephone at (650) 725-1022, by electronic mail at or by regular mail at the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6004.

Career of John Steinbeck (1902-1968)

American novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Steinbeck was born in Salinas, California in 1902 and attended Stanford University intermittently from 1919-1925. Author of more than thirty books, Steinbeck achieved his first popular and critical successes with two short novels, Tortilla Flats (1935) and Of Mice and Men (1937). A dramatized version of Of Mice and Men (1937) was immensely popular and was followed by a United Artists film production in 1939. With The Grapes of Wrath (1939), for which he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Steinbeck arrived at international renown. Based on his visits to Depression-era migrant labor camps in California's Central Valley, Grapes of Wrath was also made into a major motion picture in 1940, the second of ten of his books to be filmed. Steinbeck's work in the early 1940s was highly varied but less well-received, including The Forgotten Village (1941) and The Moon is Down (1942). When the war broke out in Europe, he went to North Africa and Italy as a correspondent for the New York Herald Tribune, out of which came several journalistic books. Critical acclaim returned to Steinbeck with two postwar novels set in his native California, Cannery Row (1945) and East of Eden (1952). He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

Steinbeck Collections at Stanford:

John Steinbeck Collection, 1902-1979

Size: 2.5 linear ft.
Call Number: M0263
Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.
Contents: The collection contains manuscripts, typescripts, and galley proofs of major and minor pieces, including The Red Pony (1937) and Cannery Row (1945). It also contains approximately 1500 letters from Steinbeck, including personal, family, and professional correspondence. Notable files are to Katherine Beswick, Steinbeck's Stanford classmate and close friend, Elaine Scott Steinbeck, his third wife, and Elizabeth Otis, his literary agent. Additionally, the collection includes press coverage of Steinbeck's travels, legal papers, marriage and birth certificates, and other memorabilia, photographs, artwork, and filmstrip. Detailed descriptions of all materials in this collection are provided by A Catalogue of the John Steinbeck Collection at Stanford University, edited by Susan F. Riggs (Stanford University Libraries, 1980; Spec Coll Felton PS3537.T27 Z5S7 1980)

Wells Fargo Steinbeck Collection, 1892-1981

Size: 5 linear ft., 111 volumes
Call Number: M1063
Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.
Contents: The collection contains more that 770 letters, photographs, clippings, unpublished short pieces, and ephemera from John Steinbeck and the Steinbeck and Hamilton families, dating from the 1890s to the early 1980s. The bulk of the collection consists of John Steinbeck's letters to his family, beginning in 1923 with his letters home from Stanford University. It also contains unpublished, previously unknown poems and stories written by Steinbeck in his teens and twenties. Also present are hundreds of family photographs as well as correspondence to the family from Steinbeck's grandparents and other relations. A set of first editions of Steinbeck's books, personally inscribed to his sister Esther Steinbeck Rodgers, are also part of the collection and are catalogued separately.

Papers related to the production of The Forgotten Village, 1941

Size: 2 linear ft.
Call Number: M1350
Contents: The collection contains the original, 32-page holograph manuscript of the screenplay for The Forgotten Village composed in Steinbeck's hand in a large-format, bound ledger book; 25 letters from Steinbeck to the director, Herbert Kline; a 30-page hand-made album of on-location production photographs assembled by Rosa Kline; vintage publicity stills and reviews of the film. The Forgotten Village was Steinbeck's first major project after The Grapes of Wrath and this collection provides a thorough record of Steinbeck's composition of the screenplay and of his contribution to the production of the film.

John Steinbeck Letters to Beth Steinbeck Ainsworth, together with literary typescripts, documents, photographs, and books, circa 1888-1989.

Call Number: M 1501
Content: 65 letters and cards from John Steinbeck to his sister Beth Steinbeck Ainsworth during the 1950s and 1960s, and 10 additional letters written jointly to Ainsworth and another sister, Esther Steinbeck Rodgers.

John Steinbeck Letters to Margaret Gemmell, 1925-1926.

Call Number: Misc 147
Content: 7 letters from Steinbeck to Margaret Gemmell; also one, untitled short story. Margaret Gemmell was Steinbeck's friend at Stanford.

John Steinbeck Correspondence with Jules Buck, 1949-1954.

Size:.25 linear ft.
Call Number: M0538
Contents: 30 letters from Steinbeck to Buck and 14 carbons from Buck to Steinbeck. Buck, an American film producer working as a script writer for producer Darryl Zanuck at Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation in 1949, collaborated closely with Steinbeck on the first draft of the screenplay for "Zapata." Elia Kazan was the director. Included with the correspondence is a short manuscript sketch of Zapata, "Emiliano's courtship," written by Steinbeck, as well as a photocopy of the first draft continuity of the screenplay "Zapata," 26 November 1949, that Steinbeck and Buck collaborated on. There is also interoffice correspondence within Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation between Darryl Zanuck, Elia Kazan, and Jules Buck.

John Steinbeck Letters to Leslie S. Brady (1954-1964)

Size: .5 linear ft
Call Number: M0621
Contents: 48 letters from Steinbeck to Brady, 16 carbons of Brady's responses. During his stay in Paris in 1954 Steinbeck wrote 17 articles for Le Figaro. He contacted Brady, then US. Public Affairs Officer in charge of Press, Information and Cultural Affairs (USIA) to review his manuscripts before submission, hoping to insure that he did not inadvertently offend French sensibilities. The two maintained their friendship through the following years. Carbon copies of Steinbeck's Le Figaro articles are also included.

John Steinbeck Letters to Shirley Fisher (1959-1962)

Call Number: Special Collections: In Process
Contents: 9 Letters from Steinbeck to Fisher, who was a senior partner in a literary agency and who along with her husband was close to Steinbeck and his third wife, Elaine Steinbeck.

John Steinbeck Movie and Theater Collection (1937-2002)

Size: Circa 52 linear feet
Call Number: M1500
Finding Guide: A preliminary inventory is available here.
Contents: Includes movie material (posters, lobby cards, press material, etc.) and theater material (posters, playbills, playscripts, etc.)

Edward Flanders Ricketts Papers , 1936-1979 (inclusive), 1936-1947 (bulk)

Size: 7.5 linear ft
Call Number: M0291
Finding Guide: A finding guide is available here.
Contents: Edward Flanders Robb Ricketts was born in Chicago, Illinois May 14, 1897. From 1923 until his death in 1948, Ricketts lived in the Monterey, California area where he pursued his career as a marine biologist and became good friends with John Steinbeck. Personal and professional papers including incoming and outgoing correspondence, a few letters from Herbert Kline to John Steinbeck, notes on intertidal marine life, printed articles, manuscript notes of unpublished biology articles, a philosophical manuscript, financial records, photographs and notes from trips to West Vancouver Island and the Queen Charlotte Islands prepared by Ricketts for the use of John Steinbeck. Also includes notes and other materials used for additions and revisions of Ricketts' publication, Between Pacific Tides, and correspondence about the book.

Manuscripts of Materials by Other Authors About Steinbeck

Benson, Jackson J., The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer : Research materials, 1935-1980
Size: 8.75 linear feet.
Call Number: M522
Steinbeck, Elaine and Wallsten, Robert, Steinbeck: A Life in Letters : Production materials, 1975.
Size: 1.25 linear ft.
Call Number: Misc 354

Selected Biography and Criticism

Benson, Jackson J. The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer. Viking Press, 1984.
______________. The Short Novels of John Steinbeck: Critical Essays with a Checklist to Steinbeck Criticism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.
Coers, Donald V. et al, ed. After the Grapes of Wrath: Essays on John Steinbeck in Honor of Tetsumaro Hayashi. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1994
___________. John Steinbeck as Propagandist: The Moon is Down Goes to War. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1991.
Ditsky, John. John Steinbeck: Life, Work, and Criticism. Fredericton, Canada, 1985.
Fensch, Thomas, ed.. Conversations with John Steinbeck. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1988.
Hayashi, Tetsumaro. John Steinbeck: The Years of Greatness, 1936- 1939. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1993.
_______________. The Steinbeck Quarterly. John Steinbeck Society of America. Muncie Indiana, 1969-1993.
Hughes, R. S. John Steinbeck: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twaynes, 1989.
Owens, Louis. John Steinbeck's Re-Vision of America. Athens, University of Georgia Press, 1985
Simmonds, Roy S. John Steinbeck: The War Years, 1939-1945. Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1996.

Bibliography of John Steinbeck

DeMott, Robert. John Steinbeck; A Checklist of Books By and About, Opuscula Press, 1987.
Goldstone, Adrian H. John Steinbeck, a Bibliographical Catalogue of the Adrian H. Goldstone Collection Papers, 1972- 1974. University of Texas, 1974.
Harmon, Robert B. Steinbeck Bibliographies: An Annotated Guide. Metuchen, N.J., 1987.
Hayashi, Tetsumaro. A Handbook for Steinbeck Collectors, Librarians, and Scholars. SMS #11, 1981.
__________. A New Steinbeck Bibliography: 1971- 1981, Scarecrow Press, 1983. Parini, Jay. John Steinbeck: A Bibliography. London: Heinemann, 1994

Other Manuscript Depositories

The Adrian H. Goldstone Collection, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin, Texas
The Annie Laurie Williams Collection, Columbia University, NY
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, California
The Pierpoint Morgan Library, New York, NY
The Steinbeck Research Center, San Jose State University, San Jose, California
University of Virginia Libraries, Charlottesville, Virginia
International John Steinbeck Association, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana


Last modified: February 8, 2012

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