Jack Conroy papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Correspondence, works, scrapbooks, subject files, magazines, journal submissions, photographs, and ephemera documenting the life and literary output of Jack Conroy.
The bulk of the collection is correspondence to Jack from friends, relatives, coworkers, colleagues, and admirers. Prominent and frequent correspondents include Nelson Algren, Sanora Babb, Arna Bontemps, Gwendolyn Brooks, Malcolm Cowley, Lawrence "Bud" Fallon, Lou Gilbert, Curt Johnson, H.H. Lewis, James Light, Frank Mead, H.L. Mencken, Charlie Miller, Emerson Price, John C. "Jack" Rogers, and W.W. "Wallie" Wharton. Conroy's works are primarily typescript, and include entire novels as well as assorted lecture notes, poems, and sketches for his proposed autobiography, which he never completed. There are also copies of reviews and articles published in various newspapers. His subject files include newsclippings of people he knew and/or admired, biographical information, and reviews and promotional material for his works. He collected a vast amount of "little magazines" which illuminate the radical ideas and philosophies from the 1930's to the 1950's. His scrapbooks are also newsclippings, kept together by subject.
Conroy kept some originals of submissions he received for publication, as well as short works by friends or colleagues. He started to compile press about himself and his books, as well as articles on various topics, into seven scrapbooks. The collection is rounded out with an assortment of photographs and ephemera, including Conroy's various membership cards and some audiocassette tapes of Conroy reading from The Disinherited. Family and personal papers include cards and letters to and from various family members of Conroy's, with some financial and miscellaneous other personal documents.
- Creation: 1864-1991
- Conroy, Jack, 1898-1990 (Person)
Materials are in English.
Conditions Governing Access
The Jack Conroy papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).
Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.
Ownership and Literary Rights
The Jack Conroy 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 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biography of Jack Conroy
John Wesley Conroy was born Dec. 5, 1898 to Irish immigrants in Monkey Nest, a coal mining camp in Missouri. From age 13 he labored in various train car factories, steel mills, and auto factories. Conroy drew upon these experiences to write his first novel, The Disinherited. Widely reviewed, The Disinherited propelled its impoverished author, then 34, into public attention both in the U.S. and abroad and firmly established his reputation as an authentic worker-writer of the proletarian literary movement.
While editor of literary "little magazines" such as The Rebel Poet, The Anvil, and The New Anvil, Conroy helped launch writers like Richard Wright, Erskine Caldwell, and Nelson Algren. In 1938 Conroy came to Chicago, on Algren's suggestions, to work on the Illinois Writer's Project. Along with recording folktales and industrial folklore, Conroy was assigned to the black history portion of the IWP, and collaborated with Arna Bontemps, producing the pioneering black studies works They Seek A City (1945) and Anyplace But Here (1965), both about African-American migration from the South to the North. Conroy and Bontemps also collaborated on several successful juvenile books based on folktales, including The Fast Sooner Hound (1942) and Slappy Hooper, The Wonderful Sign Painter (1946)
In 1965, Conroy moved from Chicago back to Moberly, Missouri, where he lived until his death in 1990. He continued to write into his 80's, publishing The Weed King and Other Stories in 1985. Over the course of his career, Conroy was also a teacher and lecturer, and a mentor to younger radical writers.
47.4 Linear Feet (100 boxes and 5 oversize boxes)
Works, correspondence, and papers of American novelist, folklorist, and editor Jack Conroy. Conroy's novel The Disinherited, published in 1933, is considered a classic in proletarian literature and depicted in gritty detail the realities of the Great Depression. Conroy also edited radical journals The Rebel Poet, The Anvil, and The New Anvil.
Papers are organized in the following series:
- Series 1: Incoming Correspondence, 1926-1990
- Boxes 1-38
- Series 2: Outgoing Correspondence, 1929-1990
- Box 39
- Series 3: Works, 1933-1986
- Boxes 40-44
- Series 4: Subject Files, 1933-1982
- Boxes 45-52
- Series 5: Personal Magazine Collection, 1864-1987, bulk, 1930-1950
- Boxes 53-89
- Series 6: Submissions, approximately 1930-1986
- Boxes 90-91
- Series 7: Photographs, approximately 1930-1984
- Boxes 92-93
- Series 8: Scrapbooks, approximately 1929-1950s
- Boxes 94-95
- Series 9: Ephemera, 1931-1991
- Box 96
- Series 10: Family and Personal Papers, 1924-1988
- Boxes 97-99
Collection Stack Location
1 12 6-7, 1 13 6-7, 1 16 4
Gift, Jack Conroy, 1989.
Diana Haskell, 1992; Martha Briggs, Alison Hinderliter, Pamela Olson, and Monica Petraglia, 2003.
This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
- Babb, Sanora (Person)
- Cowley, Malcolm, 1898-1989 (Person)
- Bontemps, Arna Wendell, 1902-1973 (Person)
- Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008 (Person)
- Caldwell, Erskine, 1903-1987 (Person)
- Conroy, Gladys (Person)
- Fallon, Lawrence (Person)
- Gilbert, Lou, 1909-1978 (Person)
- Hagglund, Ben (Person)
- Hazlett, Carolee (Person)
- Johnson, Curt, 1928-2008 (Person)
- Le Sueur, Meridel (Person)
- Lewis, H. H., 1901- (Person)
- Lieber, Maxim, 1897-1993 (Person)
- Light, James F. (Person)
- Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956 (Person)
- Price, Emerson (Person)
- Rogers, John, 1907- (Person)
- Rowland, Neal (Person)
- Snow, Walter, 1905-1973 (Person)
- Stracke, Win, 1908-1991 (Person)
- Algren, Nelson, 1909-1981 (Person)
- Wharton, Walter William (Person)
- Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000 (Person)
- Wright, Richard, 1908-1960 (Person)
- Wixson, Douglas C. (Person)
- Writers' Program of the Work Projects Administration in the State of Illinois (Organization)
Genre / Form
- Clippings (information artifacts)
- Correspondence -- 1901-1950
- Correspondence -- 1951-2000
- Authors, American -- 20th century
- Novelists, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Periodical editors -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Bohemianism -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Manuscripts, American -- Illinois -- Chicago
- New Left -- Illinois -- Chicago
- Radicalism -- Middle West -- 20th century
- Radicalism in literature
- Radicals -- Middle West -- 20th century
- Working class authors -- United States
- Working class writings, American -- History and criticism
- Inventory of the Jack Conroy papers, 1864-1991
- Alison Hinderliter
- Language of description
- Script of description
- 2011-08-17: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.