Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Houk, Walter
Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
5 boxes and 3.25 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-5


Consists of manuscripts, correspondence, stenographer's notebooks, photographs, and nautical charts associated with Walter and Juanita Houk's years in Havana, Cuba, documenting their friendship with the Nobel prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Mary.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection is devoted to Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, where he lived a third of his life. It consists of manuscripts, correspondence, stenography notebooks, photographs, maps of Cuba at mid-century, and memorabilia associated with the Houks' years in Havana, documenting their friendship and interaction with the author. The material, from both the Houks' contributions, provides a robust view of the writer when producing his last major works, Across the River and into the Trees (1950) and The Old Man and the Sea(1952). Their story is told in Houk's essays over the years from the perspective of one who was there and in his manuscript memoir Havana and Hemingway, and "Nita" Jensen's half includes anecdotes and her prized letters from Ernest and Mary Hemingway, along with original shorthand notebooks and typed transcriptions of Hemingway's dictated letters (1949, in the year or so before the couple met, and 1952). Also included are photographs, described in detail by Houk, of major Hemingway landmarks in Cuba taken by his friend David Nuffer in December 2004.

Collection Creator Biography:

Houk, Walter

Walter Houk, an officer of the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba, from 1949 to 1952, married Juanita Jensen, another embassy employee and part-time secretary to writer Ernest Hemingway, in Havana in 1952, with the Hemingways holding the wedding reception at their estate, Finca Vigía. It was through his future wife that Houk first became friends with both Ernest and Mary Hemingway. The couple were frequent visitors at the Finca, used the library, swam in the pool, stayed for lunch or dinner, went fishing on the Pilar, and drank daiquiris with Papa at the Floridita bar.

Collection History


The collection was a gift to the Manuscripts Division by Walter Houk in November 2010 (AM2011-54).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by John Delaney in November 2010. Finding aid written by John Delaney in November 2010.

In 2022, restrictions on Ernest Hemingway letters where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Walter Houk Collection of Ernest Hemingway; 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 (scamss): Box 1-5