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Collection Overview

Lindsay, Vachel, 1879-1931
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Vachel Lindsay Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1


The Vachel Lindsay Collection consists of correspondence, poetry manuscripts, photographs, drawings, and printed material of the American poet Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931).

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists primarily of love letters (1923-1925) by Lindsay to Elizabeth Mann Wills and other letters (1921, 1923-1925) by him to Francis Charles MacDonald. Furthermore, there is at least one letter each to Mrs. Edmund Kemper Broadus (1921), Howard L. Hughes (1916, 1925), Jessie Kalmbah (1903), and Elizabeth Mann Wills' mother (1924), as well as two letters by Elizabeth Connor Lindsay to Howard L. Hughes (1925, 1930). Other materials in the collection include seven poetry manuscripts (1903, 1924), a pen-and-ink drawing (undated), three photographs (undated), and a clipping from The New Republic featuring the poems "These are the Young," "The Rhinoceros and the Butterfly," and "Nancy Hanks, Mother of Abraham Lincoln."

The following standard abbreviations, or their variations, are used to identify materials in this collection: ALS = autograph letter signed, TLS = typed letter signed, ACS = autograph card signed, ANs = autograph notes, AMsS = autograph manuscript signed, and TMsS = typed manuscript signed.

Collection Creator Biography:

Lindsay, Vachel, 1879-1931

Nicholas Vachel Lindsay was born on 10 November 1879, in Springfield, Illinois. He attended Hiram College (1897-1900), and studied art at Chicago and New York (1900-1905). Afterwards, he tramped across the country, writing and performing his poetry, and became entranced by small-town life. From 1910 to 1922, he lectured and recited poems at universities. Beginning in 1914, he lectured on motion pictures at Columbia University and the University of Chicago. He became the first American poet invited to lecture at Oxford, England, in 1920. Ultimately, he became a poet in residence at Gulfport Junior College (1923-1924) and a journalist in Spokane, Washington (1924-1929). His poetic leaflets included The Tree of Laughing Bells (1905) and Rhymes to Be Traded for Bread (1912). With the publication of The Congo and Other Poems (1914), he was widely recognized as an exponent of "new poetry," and became in great demand as a public reader of his works. He was the recipient of many awards, including Poetry magazine prizes (1913 and 1928), the Helen H. Levinson Prize (1915) for the "The Chinese Nightingale," and others.

Lindsay married Elizabeth Conner on 19 May 1925, and together they had two children, Susan and Nicholas. He died of coronary thrombosis (or perhaps suicide by poison) on 5 December 1931; he was 52 years old.

Collection History


Gift of Alfred C. Howell, Purchased from Elizabeth Mann Wills


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Ran Tao, Princeton Class of 2006 in 2004. Finding aid written by Ran Tao, Princeton Class of 2006 in 2004.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

Vachel Lindsay Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1