Wendell Holmes Stephenson papers, 1820-1968

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Stephenson, Wendell Holmes, 1899-1970
34.6 Linear Feet
Physical description:
about 25,950 items
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Wendell Holmes Stephenson span the years 1820-1968, but the bulk of the materials date from 1922 to 1968. They consist of correspondence, writings and speeches, research and teaching material, and subject files. The collection primarily concerns Stephenson's career as a university professor, historian and author, and editor of historical journals. His field was Southern history but included American history, and his interests spanned the colonial period to the 20th century.

The beginnings of Stephenson's career are documented in a limited number of letters, writings, and notes dating from his undergraduate studies at Indiana University and his graduate work at the University of Michigan in the 1920s. These materials are scattered principally in the Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, and Teaching Materials series.

The materials about his career as teacher, editor, and historical writer from the 1920s to the 1960s are not neatly organized into any particular series. The Journal of Southern History Series does record the bulk of his work with that publication, but information about particular persons, topics, and institutions is often available in more than one series, sometimes in all of them.

The Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, Subject Files, Teaching Material, and Research and Bibliographical Notes series span Stephenson's career from the 1920s to the 1960s. The Correspondence Series is considerably more extensive than the other series. Information about individuals, schools, associations, and publishers is principally filed in the Correspondence, Writings and Speeches, Subject Files, and Teaching Material series. The Research and Bibliographical Notes series contains Stephenson's research notes about persons, places, and topics in Southern and American history, but additional notes and information about them may also appear in other series.

Stephenson was the first editor of the Journal of Southern History that began publication in 1935. Correspondence files are extensive, and some subject files are also available. The papers document the operations of the Journal during Stephenson's editorship, 1935-1941, but also to a limited extent as late as 1944 and in the years prior to the inception of publication. The activity recorded ranges from routine business to dealings with the principal scholars in the field. What Southern history was during this period and who was doing research and writing is amply documented.

Stephenson was later the editor of another important journal, the Mississippi Valley Historical Review, during 1946-1953. Files under its name are in the Correspondence and Subject Files series. However, there are many more files in the Correspondence Series because he integrated his editorial files into his other correspondence. Material about the Review is not confined to the years of Stephenson's editorship.

Manuscripts of the articles and books of various historians are sometimes included in their files in the Journal of Southern History, Subject Files, and Correspondence series. In most cases the presence of these writings is related to Stephenson's editorial work, but some were filed because he was interested in the work of earlier historians.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1899, March 13
Born, Cartersville, Indiana
Teacher in public schools of Indiana
A.B., Indiana University
A.M., Indiana University
Instructor and assistant professor of history and political science, University of Kentucky
Associate professor and professor of American history, Louisiana State University
Ph.D., University of Michigan
Editor, Journal of Southern History
President, Agricultural History Society
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Louisiana State University
President, Southern Historical Association
Professor of Southern history and chairman, Division of Social Sciences, Tulane University
Managing editor, Mississippi Valley Historical Review
Professor of history, University of Oregon
President, Mississippi Valley Historical Association
1970, April 14
Died, Eugene, Oregon
Acquisition information:
The papers of Wendell Holmes Stephenson (1893-1970), historian, university professor, and editor, were donated to the Special Collections Department in 1963 and 1972 by Dr. and Mrs. Wendell Holmes Stephenson.
Processing information:

Processed by William R. Erwin, Jr.

Date Completed: October 22, 1991

Encoded by Alvin Pollock

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Collection is open for research.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in the papers of Wendell Holmes Stephenson have not been transferred to Duke University. For further information, see the section on copyright in the Regulations and Procedures of the Rubenstein Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Wendell Holmes Stephenson Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.