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Eva Rutland papers

Identifier: Coll 063

Scope and Contents note

The Eva Rutland Papers consist largely of correspondence and manuscripts, both published and unpublished, combining material received from Mrs. Rutland in 1970 and 1980.

The correspondence is arranged chronologically and includes both business and personal correspondence from 1949 to 1979. The bulk of the business correspondence is between Mrs. Rutland and Lenniger Literary Agency, where she was a client, and Abingdon Press, which published The Trouble With Being a Mama. The business correspondence, in particular the years 1964-1965 and 1969-1970, traces the development and ultimate failure of In Defense of Uncle Tom. The history of Mrs. Rutland's vision problem is revealed through her correspondence with Lenniger Literary Agency, beginning with a letter dated June 24, 1970. Mrs. Rutland's personal correspondence sometimes provides a contemporary perspective of race relations and the civil rights movement. A noted personal correspondent is Kathryn Crosby; the Papers include letters from her in 1972, 1973, and 1976.

The manuscripts are divided into book length, plays, short works, and poetry. Works within these sections are arranged alphabetically by title. Rough drafts are filed with the final version. The manuscripts series contains three of five known published works. These are: "The Morning the Swings Were Empty," "Sex and Mr. Pumpernickel," and The Trouble With Being a Mama. As with the personal correspondence, most of the manuscripts record how race relations in the 1950's and 1960's affected everyday life. Of unpublished works included in the Papers, the most notable is In Defense of Uncle Tom. Mrs. Rutland's published works which are not included are: "Taught to Hate" ( Ladies Home Journal, June, 1952) and "Elsie and God" ( Redbook, June, 1952).

Aside from a photocopy of a newspaper article about the play Pride Prejudice and Pollution, all of the reviews are for The Trouble With Being a Mama. Following the reviews is a folder of memorabilia, consisting mostly of publicity for Pride Prejudice and Pollution.


  • Creation: 1949-1979


Conditions Governing Access note

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.

Conditions Governing Use note

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 note

Eva Elsie Rutland (née Neal) was born January 15, 1917 in Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her B.A. in Economics from Spelman College (Atlanta) in 1937. She has lived in Alabama, Washington, D.C., Ohio, and Germany. She now lives in Sacramento, California. She is married and has four children.

Mrs. Rutland had already written several short stories and articles (three of which were published in the 1950's) when her book, The Trouble With Being a Mama, was published in 1964 by Abingdon Press. The book is about the troubles and joys of being a wife and mother of four in a middle-class black family. The book was well-received and popular at its release, but is no longer in print.

Mrs. Rutland has written material for several other books. One, entitled In Defense of Uncle Tom, was contracted by Abingdon in 1968. Despite months of work, however, the book was never published. At least one of her short stories, "Sex and Mr. Pumpernickel," has been published abroad. In 1978, her play, Pride, Prejudice and Pollution, with music and lyrics by Mel Lawson, was produced in Sacramento.


Findagrave Birth: Jan. 15, 1917 Atlanta Fulton County Georgia, USA Death: Mar. 13, 2012 Sacramento Sacramento County California, USA

She was the granddaughter of slaves and the daughter of a pharmacist, Dr. Samuel Neal and school teacher, Eva Westmoreland Neal. Mrs. Rutland moved to Sacramento with her husband Bill and their four children in 1952. She had already embarked on her writing career by that time and had several articles published in Redbook Magazine, The Lady's Home Journal and Woman's Day.

She graduated from Spelman College in 1937 and married William G. "Bill" Rutland, a civilian logistics officer for the Tuskegee Airmen, in 1943. His career in the military took them and their young children to Ohio before they settled in 1952 in Sacramento, where he worked at McClellan Air Force Base.

In 1964, The Trouble with Being A Mama, her popular memoir, was published. It recounted the trials and tribulations of a middle class black women raised in comfortable circumstances in the segregated south who was suddenly confronted with the frightening prospect of raising her own children in newly integrating California. The book was out of print when the Rutland family republished it in 2005, under a new title, 'When We Were Colored, a Mother's Story.'

Mrs. Rutland went blind in her early 50s and that's when her writing career took off. Using a computer equipped with a voice synthesizer she wrote some two dozen or so Harlequin Romance novels. In 2000 her mainstream novel, 'No Crystal Stair,' was published. It is a semi-autobiographical, saga of a black family from World War II, the turbulent civil rights era, the black power movement through modern times.

Mrs. Rutland's husband, Bill Rutland was a former Sacramento City School Board member and Deputy Director at McClellan Air Force Base He died in 2005. Mrs. Rutland leaves four children, and five grandchildren.


1.5 linear feet (3 containers)

Language of Materials



Eva Elsie Rutland (1917- ) is a writer of books and short stories primarily relating to the African American experience and race relations in America. The collection includes correspondence, literary manuscripts and miscellaneous records that reflect her writing career.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: Biographical InformationCorrespondenceManuscripts: Book LengthManuscripts: PlayManuscripts: Short WorksManuscripts: Poetry

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Eva Rutland in 1970.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by Molly Taylor.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Eva Rutland Papers
Complete Description
Finding aid prepared by Molly Taylor
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA