Scope and Contents
The Robert Cantwell papers contain incoming and outgoing correspondence regarding Cantwell’s personal life and writing endeavors; bound personal journals, notebooks, and daily planners; drafts for several of Cantwell’s novel-length works and articles; illustrations and printing ephemera; research files; notes related to general research topics, as well as Cantwell’s writings; financial records; newspaper and magazine clippings; maps; collected sheet music; and photographs of Cantwell’s immediate and extended family, activities related to his writings, family and work-related travel, and family homes and properties.
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1908-1978
- Creation: 1866-1987
- Cantwell, Robert, 1908-1978 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time. Collection includes sound recordings, moving images, and digital files to which access is restricted. Access to these materials is governed by repository policy and may require the production of listening or viewing copies. Researchers requiring access must notify Special Collections and University Archives in advance and pay fees for reproduction services as necessary.
Conditions Governing Use
Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.
Biographical / Historical
Robert Cantwell (1908 January 31 – 1978 December 8) was a novelist, biographer, essayist, and editor for several publications including, Time (1935-1936, 1938-1945), Fortune (1937), Newsweek (1949-1954), and Sports Illustrated (1956-1978). Robert Emmett Cantwell was born in Little Falls (now Vader), Washington to Charles James Cantwell and Nina Adelia (Hanson) Cantwell. He married Mary Elizabeth Chambers February 2, 1931 and had three children: Joan McNeice (Mrs. George Stolz, Jr.), Betsy Ann (Mrs. Walter Pusey III), and Mary Elizabeth Emmett (Mrs. Lars-Erik Nelson).
Cantwell attended the University of Washington (1924-1925) and spent four years (1925-1929) working as a veneer clipper man for Harbor Plywood Co. in Hoquiam, Washington. After selling a short story to The American Caravan in 1929, Cantwell moved to New York where he began work on his first novel, Laugh and Lie Down (1931). Upon completion of the novel, Cantwell engaged in freelance writing and published articles for several publications, including The New Republic and The Nation, among others. He published a second proletarian novel, The Land of Plenty, in 1934 and began work, in collaboration with Lincoln Steffens, on a biography of Boston merchant E.A. Filene (which was never completed). Over the next ten years, Cantwell worked on the editorial staffs for Time (1935-1936) and Fortune (1937), ultimately becoming an associate editor for Time, 1938-1945. Throughout the 1930s, Cantwell became acquainted with numerous literary personalities, including John Dos Passos, James, T. Farrell, Ernest Hemingway, Edmund Wilson, Malcolm Crowley, Whittaker Chambers, and Henry Luce.
Over the next three years (1945-1948), Cantwell researched and wrote the biography, Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years (1948). From 1949 to 1954, Cantwell worked as the literary editor for Newsweek and then took up freelance writing again until 1956. At this time, Cantwell began an association with Sports Illustrated that lasted the rest of his life. Of the numerous articles composed for Sports Illustrated, three became books: Alexander Wilson: Naturalist and Pioneer (1961), The Real McCoy (1971), and The Hidden Northwest (1972).
60.23 linear feet (49 containers) : 24 record storage boxes, 4 manuscript boxes, 1 clamshell box, 9 photo boxes, 9 flat boxes, 2 oversize flat boxes
Language of Materials
Robert Cantwell (1908 January 31 – 1978 December 8) was a novelist, biographer, essayist, and editor for several publications including, Time (1935-1936, 1938-1945), Fortune (1937), Newsweek (1949-1954), and Sports Illustrated (1956-1978). The Robert Cantwell papers contain correspondence, diaries, literary manuscripts, research files, published works, clippings, and photographs.
The Robert Cantwell papers collection is arranged in five series: 1. Correspondence, 2. Diaries and notebooks, 3. Writing and research files, 4. Personal material, and 5. Photographs.
Series 3. Writing and research files is arranged in four subseries: 3.1. Monographs, 3.2. Articles, 3.3. Illustrations and printing ephemera, and 3.4. Research files, fragments, and notes.
Series 4. Personal material is arranged in four subseries: 4.1. Financial files, 4.2. Biographical material, 4.3. Collected publications and clippings, and 4.4. Sheet music and collected ephemera.
Series 5. Photographs is arranged in two subseries: 5.1. Family, and 5.2. Business, buildings, landscapes, and travel.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Robert Cantwell, 1965.
The following books have been removed from the Robert Cantwell papers and transferred to the Special Collections Rare Books collection:
Cantwell, Robert. Nathaniel Hawthorne: The American Years. New York: Rinehart and Company, Inc., 1948.
Congdon, Don (Ed.). The Thirties, a Time to Remember. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962.
Falkner, William C. The White Rose of Memphis. New York: Coley Taylor, 1953.
Farrell, James T. Gas-House McGinty. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1933.
Farrell, James T. The Short Stories of James T. Farrell. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1934.
Farrell, James T. Tommy Gallagher’s Crusade. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1939.
Farrell, James T. $1,000 a Week and Other Stories. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1942.
Farrell, James T. Judgement Day. Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1946.
Farrell, James T. This Man and This Woman. New York: The Vanguard Press, 1951.
Faulkner, William. Sartoris. New York: Signet Books, 1953.
McLoughlin, E. V. (Ed.). The Story of Our Time: Encyclopedia Year Book. New York: The Grolier Society, 1953.
McLoughlin, E. V. (Ed.). The Story of Our Time: Encyclopedia Year Book. New York: The Grolier Society, 1954.
McLoughlin, E. V. (Ed.). The Story of Our Time: Encyclopedia Year Book. New York: The Grolier Society, 1955.
Muir, Malcolm (Ed.). Newsweek's History of Our Times: Covering the Events of 1949, Vol. I. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1950.
Muir, Malcolm (Ed.). Newsweek's History of Our Times: Covering the Events of 1951, Vol. III. New York: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1952.
New American Library. New World Writing: Second Mentor Selection. New York: The New American Library of World Literature, Inc., 1952.
Obolensky, Serge. One Man in His Time: The Memoirs of Serge Obolensky. New York: McDowell, Obolensky, 1958.
Talamini, John T. and Charles H. Page. Sport and Society, an Anthology. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1973.
Yee, Chiang. The Chinese Eye. London: Methuen and Co, 1961.
Collection processed by Aggie Agapito and Aika-Maria Kihunrwa, 2003. Revisions completed by Liliya Benz, 2020.
- Guide to the Robert Cantwell papers
- Complete Description
- Finding aid prepared by Aggie Agapito and Aika-Maria Kihunrwa. Revised by Liliya Benz.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.