Skip to main content

Mike Ervin Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Ervin

Scope and Content of the Collection

Mainly writings of Mike Ervin, consisting of magazine and newspaper articles, plays, short stories, and some poems.

Scripts of all Ervin’s plays are included, with multiple versions for “The Plucky and Spunky Show” which was performed at the Remains Theater in Chicago and also traveled to Alaska. There is also some correspondence, plus publicity materials, programs, and reviews of his plays, as well as miscellaneous papers and handouts from Ervin’s disability activities. A small amount of biographical information and photographs are also included.


  • Creation: 1970-2009
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1980 - 2000



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Mike Ervin Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Mike Ervin Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Mike Ervin

Chicago disability activist, freelance journalist, and playwright.

Mike Ervin was born on an army base in West Germany in 1956. He was raised on the southwest side of the city and, because of his muscular dystrophy, was educated at the Illinois Children’s Hospital-School. He then went on to the University of Southern Illinois from which he graduated with a journalism degree in 1978.

Ervin’s first job was writing obituaries for the Daily Southtown newspaper. From that position he continued writing, mostly freelance, articles in newspapers, magazines, and newsletters - reaching a grand total of more than 1,000 articles in over 30 publications by the early 2000s. He also led or participated in numerous activities designed to call attention to the public problems, such as access to buildings and public transportation, of the disabled. Among the many persons he met in his crusades and activities was an artist, Anna Stonum, who had a degenerative nerve disorder and used a wheelchair. They were married in 1978. She died in 1999.

Ervin’s writing career encompasses not only newspaper and magazine articles, but also some poetry and a number of published and performed plays. These include “The Plucky and Spunky Show” and “The History of Bowling.” Ervin’s plays have been described as darkly humorous, centering as they do on the exasperations, misunderstandings, humiliations, foibles, and funny incidents in the lives of disabled (or wheelchair - Mike’s preferred term) persons.


2.1 Linear Feet (5 boxes)


Papers of and materials collected by Mike Ervin, a Chicago playwright, writer on topics relating to the physically disabled, occasional poet, and activist on disability issues. The collection includes many clippings and articles by Ervin, and some articles about him, his plays and short stories, plus some poems and photographs, publicity materials for his plays, and correspondence. The collection also includes theater materials such as play scripts, programs, and reviews.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Writings by Michael Ervin, 1977-2009
Boxes 1-3
Series 2: Publicity, 1990-2008
Box 4
Series 3: Writings about Michael Ervin, 1992-2001
Box 4
Series 4: Correspondence, 1985-2005
Box 4
Series 5: Miscellaneous, 1970-2007
Box 5

Collection Stack Location

1 14 6


Gift, Mike Ervin, 2010.

Processed by:

Lenore Glanz, 2010.


Inventory of the Mike Ervin Papers, 1970-2009, bulk 1980-2000
Lenore Glanz, 2010.
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States