MsC 838

Collection Dates: 1928 -- 1997
.5 linear ft.

Collection Guide

This document describes a Manuscript Collection held by the

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries

Josephine Herbst

Guide Contents

Administrative Information

Biographical and Historical Information

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Acquisition and Processing Information

Box Contents List

Administrative Information

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.

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Biographical Note

Josephine Frey Herbst, born in Sioux City, Iowa, in 1897, attended Morningside College, the University of Iowa, the University of Washington, and was graduated from the University of California in 1918. In 1920 she worked at a variety of jobs in New York -- everything from a department store employee to a charity organization case-worker to a publicity writer and editorial reader for H. L. Mencken. Her interest in writing stems from childhood and her first story was published in The Smart Set in 1923. In 1925 she married a writer, John Herrman.

Throughout her life she was constantly engaged in observing and writing about areas of trouble and unrest, both in this country and abroad. She lived in Germany from 1922 until 1925 and returned to Europe in 1930, visiting Austria and the Soviet Union; in 1932 she was in Mexico, in Iowa during the farm strike, and in 1934 in the Midwest farming region again in the time of the drought. 1935 found her in Cuba during the General Strike and that same year in Germany to do a series of newspaper articles for the New York Post. She was in Flint, Michigan, at the time of the General Motors sit-down strike in 1937, then in Spain as a correspondent during the bombardment of Madrid. In 1939 she traveled to South America. During these years Josephine Herbst was concerned with the breakdown of capitalist society and the shift towards collectivism; she felt that the future would be closely bound up with the future of the farmer and the worker, and she must keep in touch with their world. She is known as the writer of the proletarian novel. Her trilogy, Pity is Not Enough, The Executioner Waits, and Rope of Gold has been called a "subtle blend of art and propaganda." In 1936 Josephine Herbst received a Guggenheim fellowship in the field of the novel.

Josephine Herbst died on January 28, in 1969, at the age of seventy-seven, and is buried in a family plot in Sioux City.

Scope and Contents

Audio Visual Materials: Audio cassette tape, Box 1

Photographs: Box 1

Related Materials

Bevilaqua, Wninfred Farrant. An Introduction to Josephine Herbst, Novelist

The Bieneke Library at Yale University has a collection of Herbst's papers.

Acquisition and Processing Information

These papers were given to the University of Iowa Libraries by Ms. Herbst in 1948.

Guide posted to Internet: February 2006.


Audio cassette tape. Elman, Richard. Review of biography of Josephine Herbst. NPR's "All Things Considered," August 19, 1984.

Book Jackets

Nothing is Sacred – negative image

Pity is Not Enough – negative image

Clippings, 1931 -- 1997


To Mr. Milkman

December 10, 1928

To Cap

January 18, 1939

February 12, 1939

March 9, 1939

March 10, 1939 ?

May 15, 1939

June 6, 1939

To Mr. Roberts

March 15, 1945

Herbst, Josephine. “The Farmer Looks Ahead.” The American Mercury, issue date unknown

Loose pages from The German Language

Magazine and Journal Articles

Bevilacqua, Winifred Farrant. “An Introduction to Josephine Herbst, Novelist.” Books at Iowa. University of Iowa, 1976.

Interview with Elinor Langer, biographer. Publisher’s Weekly, 1984.

Langer, Elinor. “Love Among the Literati.” Ms., 1984.

Langer, Elinor. “If in Fact I Have Found a Heroine…” Mother Jones, 1981.


Somewhere the Tempest Fell. Printer's typescript with revisions. 3 folders


Photograph, Josephine Herbst, undated

Sioux City Public Library Event Materials

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