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Sherwood Anderson Collection, 1912-1938 (Ms1973-002)

 Digital Record
Identifier: Ms1973-002


  • 1912 - 1938

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

Most materials have no restrictions. Some photographs cannot be reproduced, as they are copies from collections at other institutions such as the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois.

Biographical Information

Sherwood Anderson (1876-1941) was born in the small town of Camden, Ohio to a large and impoverished family. An outstanding student, Anderson quit school at 14 to help support his family. In 1895 he volunteered for the Spanish-American War, then spent one year in Wittenburg College. He worked as a laborer in Chicago and later as a writer in an advertising agency. Unable to resist the urge to write and live a bohemian lifestyle, Anderson suffered an emotional breakdown and walked away from his family and his mail-order paint business. He had three children (two sons and a daughter) from his first marriage. Anderson eventually married three more times.

Anderson published 27 books, plays, and volumes of short stories, along with numerous articles in periodicals. Often controversial, he wrote about issues as diverse as the sexual awakening of adolescence to the alienation caused by industrialization. He was very active in the intellectual community of the day and was instrumental in helping both Faulkner and Hemingway to be published for the first time.

Anderson wrote to his daughter from Kansas City in March, 1933, "As you know, my dear, I never did domesticate well," but he always maintained relationships with his children. Later in life, Anderson embarked on his fourth--and only successful--marriage, to Eleanor Copenhaver, a native of Marion, Virginia. They traveled extensively and spent summers on their rural farm, "Ripshin," near Marion. Anderson bought and operated both of Marion's local newspapers and eventually passed ownership along to his eldest son, Robert.

Sherwood Anderson died on the first leg of a long-anticipated trip to South America. He developed peritonitis and was hospitalized in Panama, where he passed away on March 8, 1941.

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

The Sherwood Anderson Collection was created through various donations and purchases in 1973, 1980, and 1997.

Related Material

Various materials related to the Sherwood Anderson Collection are available in other locations.

Books by and about Sherwood Anderson stored in Special Collections and the general collection of Newman Library are cataloged and can be located using the library's catalog.

Microfilmed and bound theses and dissertations about Sherwood Anderson and his work that were collected by researcher Ray White are cataloged and can be located using the library's catalog.

A 1904 wedding dress that belonged to Sherwood Anderson's wife, Cornelia Platt Lane, is part of the Glisson Historic Costume and Textiles Collection located in Virginia Tech's Wallace Hall.

General Physical Description note

2 containers; 1.0 cu. ft.


Correspondence among author Sherwood Anderson and family members, most notably letters written by Anderson to his daughter Marian, as well as some of his professional correspondence. Also includes research material about Anderson gathered by Ray White and notecards--compiled by Dr. Charles Modlin--documenting the annotations in the books within Special Collections' Anderson book collection.


This collection contains materials relating to author Sherwood Anderson. The collection is notable for the personal letters written by Anderson to family members. The largest group of letters (about 78 of them) were written to his daughter, Marian Anderson ("Mimi") Spear, between 1912 and 1938. While discussing personal and family matters, Anderson often speaks of his difficulties, failures and successes in publishing, and his interactions with other notable authors of the period. Transcripts of the letters, probably made by Anderson scholar and retired Virginia Tech English Department faculty member Dr. Hilbert Campbell, are invaluable as Anderson's handwriting can be very difficult to read. Additional correspondence includes letters between Anderson and other family members. Other correspondence reflects Anderson as a writer and includes a typescript of a speech delivered by Anderson to striking workers at Danville, Virginia in 1931.

Supporting sets of documents include two researchers' work on Sherwood Anderson. Material donated by Anderson scholar Ray Lewis White, author of more than a dozen titles related to Anderson, includes photographs of Anderson and his family members, book covers from a project to gather covers (or reproductions of covers) not already in his collection, pages that were prepared for publication, and other materials used by White in his Anderson books. Notes made by Dr. Charles Modlin, a retired professor from the English Department at Virginia Tech and author of seven books about Anderson, are also included. The notes mostly concern the Anderson book collection in Virginia Tech's Special Collections and the books related to Anderson.

Processing Information

The processing, arrangement and description of the Sherwood Anderson Collection took place from October to December 2006.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US