MsC 575

Iowa Author

  Manuscript Register


Collection Dates: 1913 -- 1937
.75 linear ft.

This document describes a collection of materials held by the
Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1420
Phone: 319-335-5921
Fax: 319-335-5900

Posted to Internet: May 1998

Acquisition Note: These papers were gathered from a number of different sources over a number of years. Many of the letters came to the University of Iowa Libraries as a gift from Butler's family.

Access and Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Digital Surrogates: Except where indicated, this document describes but does not reproduce the actual text, images and objects which make up this collection. Materials are available only in the Special Collections Department.

Copyright:  Please read The University of Iowa Libraries' statement on "Property Rights, Copyright Law, and Permissions to Use Unpublished Materials"

Use of Collections: The University of Iowa Libraries supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted by their fragile condition or by contractual agreement with donors, and it may not be possible at all times to provide appropriate machinery for reading, viewing or accessing non-paper-based materials. Please read our Use of Manuscripts Statement.


Ellis Parker Butler (1869 -- 1937) was a native of Muscatine, Iowa. Dropping out of high school to help support the family he worked in a number of jobs including ones in a spice mill, an oatmeal mill, a china store, and a wholesale grocery. During this time he submitted material for publication, some of which were accepted. Moving to New York City in 1896, he began writing for trade magazines such as the Tailor's Review, the Wall Paper News, and The Decorative Furnisher.

In 1905, his humorous short story, "Pigs is Pigs" appeared in the American Magazine, and the following year it was published in book form. Its phenomenal success allowed Butler to give up editing trade papers and turn to full-time authorship. It would remain his most popular work.

He concentrated on writing, though he did work for ten years at the Flushing First National Bank, eventually  becoming a Vice-President. A number of his books were set in his hometown. The boy's books of Swatty and Jibby Jones and his novel Dominie Dean all take place in Muscatine, Iowa. Many of his books were actually collections of his short stories that had appeared earlier in magazines. He focused on writing humor, though there are some serious novels in his ouevre. His output was large and some claim that he is the most-published writer of the pulp-fiction era, though he wrote for mainstream publications such as Century, National Magazine, Lippincott, American Magazine, McClure's, Cosmopolitan, Harper's, Puck, and Judge, rather than for the pulps.

Butler was active in the Authors' League of America; he was on the council and served as secretary and treasurer. He also belonged to the Authors' Club of London, and was a member of Salmagundi, the Players, and the Dutch Treat clubs of New York. He was married to Ida Zipser and they had four children.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Ellis Parker Butler are composed of 0.75 linear feet of manuscripts and date from 1913 -- 1937. There are drafts of three poems by Butler, however the bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence. This correspondence is for the most part arranged alphabetically. The outgoing letters from Butler are alphabetical by recipient, while the incoming correspondence is arranged by sender. There are two folders of correspondence between Butler and William G. Chapman that are arranged chronologically. Ida Butler's correspondence is also included in theses papers and is arranged in a similar manner. Some of the correspondents included in this collection are: Frank Bacon, Witter Bynner, William Chapman, Irvin Cobb, Raymond Davis, Robert Davis, Sewell Ford, Hamlin Garland, Robert Holliday, Burges Johnson, Joseph Lincoln, Orson Lowell, George McCutcheon, Thomas Masson, Leo Mielziner, Fulton Oursler, Leroy Scott, Ellery Sedgwick, Henry Shute, Julian Street, Arthur Train, Louis Vance, and Jesse Willliams.

Related Materials

Lighting Out for the Territory Back East: Ellis Parker Butler, American Humorist

New York Times obituary, September 14, 1937

There is apparently an article called "The Men Who Make the Argosy" in the August 8, 1931 issue of Argosy, but that has not been substantiated.

Box 1

Manuscripts of poetry by Ellis Parker Butler

"Clap in, clap out" Typescript draft.

"Philosophy" Holograph draft, March 25, 1929.

"There was a young lady from Flushing" Holograph draft of a limerick, February, 21, 1931.

Clippings; includes 1912 "Authors' League of America" publication


Ellis Parker Butler to his family:
1934 -- May 1935.

June -- December 1935.



Ellis Parker Butler to others. Including letters to: E. Allen, F. Bacon, H. Davenport, R. Davis, S. Eaton, R. Hardy, T. Hotchkiss, E. Holloway, G. Iles, C. James, G. Kleiser, O. Kildare, O. Lowell, P. Maxwell, A. Mason, B. Meyers, W. Phillips, J. Pond, C. Reynolds, F. Rolt-Wheeler, J. Stahl, G. Taggert, A. Vance, S. White, V. Waugh, and H. Weymer.

Between Ellis Parker Butler and William G. Chapman:

1913 -- 1932.

1933 -- 1937.

Letters to Ellis Parker Butler:

A -- G. Including letters from: G. Ade, M. Aley, J. Allen, G. Atherton, I Bacheller, F. Bacon, R. Baker, K. Bates, E. Bluemenschein, B. Braby, G. Buck, B. Bulger, G. Burgess, W. Bynner, F. Carruth, R. Chambers, J. Chapple, R. Child, W. Churchill, K. Clark, I. Cobb, R. Crothers, C. Crowell, M. Crowell, F. Crowninshield, H. Croy, A. Daly, O. Davis, R. Davis, K. Detzer, A. Dingle, G. Doran, A. Dove, W. Dyer, W. Eaton, J. Erskine, J. Farrar, C. Field, C. Ford, S. Ford, G. Frank, J. Frederick, J. French, H. Garland, A. Gibbs, R. Gilder, W. Griffith and F. Gruger.

Box 2

Correspondence (cont.)

Letters to Ellis Parker Butler (cont.)
H -- N. Including letters from: H. Hagedorn, W. Harben, O. Harlan, W. Hays, R. Holliday, H. Holt, W. Hutchinson, R. Irvin, I. Irwin, B. Johnson, R. Johnson, M. Justice, A. Kerr, J. Kilmer, G. Kleiser, P. Kyne, L. Lauferty, L. Lawes, A. Learned, S. Lesser, S. Lewis, J. Lincoln, B. Livingstone, E. Lockhart, A. Loomis, C. Loomis, G. Lorimer, R. McCardell, S. McClure, G. McCutcheon, R. McElroy, H. MacGrath, H. MacNeil, E. Markham, D. Marquis, C. Marriott, M. Marshall, T. Masson, H. Maxim, M. Mayo, S. Merwin, L. Mielziner, C. Moffett, T. Mundy, P. Newell, and B. Nye.

O -- S. Including letters from: F. O'Malley, W. Osborne, F. Oursler, W. Page, A. Paine, W. Pelly, L. Peters, B. Phillips, C.Pollock, E. Poole, G. Putnam, E. Rice, L. Richards, S. Rinehart, C. Sale, E. Schuler, L. Scott, E. Sedgwick, D. Seitz, W. Shelton, H. Shute, S. Speath, V. Stefansson, H. Steger, B. Stevenson, F. Stockbridge, F. Stokes, W. Stoner, L. Stowe, J. Street, M. Sullivan, W. Sulzer, and M. Sykes.

T -- Y. Including letters from: I. Tarbell, W. Teague, J. Thayer, G. Thring, A. Thomas, C. Towne, A. Train, W. Vallee, L. Vance, S. White, P. Wilde, R. Wildhack, H. Wiley, B. Williams, B.C. Williams, J. Williams, M. Woll, C. Wood, and Robert Yard.

Letters to and from Ida Butler. Including letters from: Clara Barrus, Elmer H. Davis, Clyde Fisher, Harold Ober, Julian Street, and William Sulzer.

"Go East, Young Man: Ellis Parker Butler, American Humorist" by Henry B. Chapin

Color copy of the painting of Ellis, Ida, and Elise that appeared in the December 1909 issue of Century magazine.


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