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John and Ward Hawkins papers

Identifier: Coll 071

Scope and Contents

The Papers of John and Ward Hawkins consist largely of fiction manuscripts and teleplays. Correspondence, non-fiction manuscripts, and screenplays are also included in the collection. This inventory represents an incorporation of all the material received between 1965 and 1984.

The correspondence consisting of about 1,050 letters, is mostly with literary agents, in particular the Brandt and Brandt agency. These agents' letters often provide detailed commentary on the Hawk-ins' work and information on the contemporary writing market. Later correspondence often concerns "Little House on the Prairie." Noted correspondents include Albert R. Wetjen, August Lenninger, and Ed-ward Abbey. The correspondence is in alphabetical order by name of correspondent.

The fiction and non-fiction manuscripts provide samples of all types of the Hawkins' work: pulp stories, "slick" stories; romance, sports, and detective fiction; short stories, novel-length works, and work intended for serialization. While many works are represented only by a single draft, others have correspondence, outlines, notes, and/or early drafts preceding the latest draft. Manuscripts are in alphabetical order by title. When more than one draft of a work is present, chronological order has been established if discernible. Several folders of untitled works and fragments come between fiction and non-fiction manuscripts.

Teleplays (scripts for television) are in alphabetical order by television series name. Within each series, teleplays are in order by episode title, with final title determining placement. A series proposal, or series format packet, if present, will precede all teleplays for a particular series. Especially in the "Bonanza" and "Little House on the Prairie" series, many drafts of scripts contain episode information, such as work schedules (documenting scenes shot per day and hours worked), shooting schedules giving brief summaries of scenes shot and including props and cast needed, cast lists, and Broadcast Standards remarks. The following order has been established: work schedule, shooting schedule, day-out-of-days sheet, cast list, outline approval, Broadcast standards remarks, set sketches, and character/set lists. Much of this information will be of interest to the television historian. Shooting schedules are often irreverent and humorous in their scene synopses, as well as being technically informative. Some of the cast lists for "Little House" scripts include actors' salaries. Also, the N.B.C. Broadcast Standards remarks, included in many "Bonanza" and a few "Little House" teleplays, provide interesting information on sex and violence standards.

"Bonanza" and "Little House" scripts comprise more than half of the teleplay series. The collection of "Little House" scripts, in fact, is nearly complete through 1977. Following the "Bonanza" scripts are five folders of information about many writers for "Bonanza" and their story ideas. Included in the "Little House" section are notes on scripts and information from that show.

Other television series which are well represented are: "Daniel Boone," "Boots and Saddles," "Manhunt," "Not For Hire," "Rawhide," "Shannon," "Steve Canyon," "The Virginian," and "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea," Outlines and scripts for such series as "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.," "Tarzan," "Alcoa Premiere," and "General Electric Theater" illustrate the Hawkins ability to apply their skills to various formulas. Of particular interest to the historian may be the Cold War attitude implicit in such series as "Behind Closed Doors" and "Special Mission"; the series proposal "Vietnam"; the increasing emphasis on social comment in later "Bonanza" scripts; and the overall sexism in most of the earlier teleplays. Included in the teleplays is a script by Gene Roddenberry, of "Star Trek" fame ("The Detectives," Blue Fire).

Not all of the teleplays in the collection are written by John and/or Ward Hawkins. This is especially so for "Bonanza" and "Little House," where John worked as a producer. For other series, such scripts may have been sent to the Hawkins' as guidelines for writing their own scripts, or for revision work. The researcher may assume that unless otherwise indicated, all manuscripts and published works are by both John and Ward Hawkins. A notation of "author uncertain" indicates that the work in question is by John and/or Ward Hawkins but it is not clear who; "author unknown" means just that.

Following the teleplays from specified series are other teleplays, screenplays, and treatments. These include movie scripts, expanded story treatments, and teleplays for unspecified series. These are in alphabetical order by title. One radio play by Earl Hammer Jr., producer of "The Waltons," follows this section. Next are idea and plot files, which are in alphabetical order by series. Miscellaneous fragments of manuscripts follow.

Tearsheets of the Hawkins' published stories are in alphabetical order by title. The advertisements on the tearsheets reflect society from the late 1930s to the late 1950s. Business records including contracts, agreements, and financial information follow. A free-standing volume, the French version of The Floods of Fear - Alerte - completes the collection.

Collection photographs include "Bonanza" and "Little House" set shots.


  • 1937-1981


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.

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

John Hawkins was born in Hamilton, Montana in 1910. He lived in Oregon City and Gladstone before moving to Portland in 1939. Hawkins began writing stories for such "pulp" magazines as Popular Detective and Ace G-Man Stories in 1933. He and his brother Ward Hawkins (b. 1912, Vancouver, B.C.) then made the move from the “pulp” to more respectable "slick" magazines. These included The Saturday Evening Post, Colliers, and Cosmopolitan. When these magazines lost circulation and began folding in the late 1950's, the Hawkins brothers decided to try their hand at television and screen writing. They moved to Los Angeles in 1938.

The two, separately and as a team, wrote scripts mainly for westerns and police dramas, such as "Boots and Saddles," "Manhunt," and "The Virginian." However, they wrote for a wide variety of shows, including "Alcoa Premiere," "The Man From U.N.C.L.E.," and "General Electric Theatre." John Hawkins was especially successful, becoming assistant producer and story editor for "Bonanza" and finally producer of "Little House on the Prairie." Ward contributed scripts to both series. In addition, John was creator of and writer for "Shannon." The Hawkins' also proposed their own series: "The Golden Tramp," "Jake Sloan," "Vietnam," among others.

In addition to short stories and teleplays, the Hawkins' wrote novels and screenplays. The brothers were well known in their field and respected for their professionalism and ability to produce quality "formula" stories and scripts.

John Hawkins died in 1978 after a long illness, after producing "Little House on the Prairie" for four years. Ward Hawkins is living in California.


50.5 linear feet (102 containers)

Language of Materials



The John and Ward Hawkins Papers comprise fiction manuscripts and teleplays, correspondence, non-fiction manuscripts, and screenplays by American writers John and Ward Hawkins.


Collection is organized into the following series: CorrespondenceManuscripts: FictionManuscripts: Non-fictionManuscripts: TeleplaysManuscripts: Radio PlayManuscripts: Idea FileManuscripts: Plot FileManuscripts: FragmentsTear sheetsBusiness recordsPhotographs

Other Finding Aids

Paper finding aid with additional information available in Special Collections & University Archives.

Physical Description

102 containers

Processing Information

Collection processed by Molly Taylor, Manuscripts Processor.

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 John and Ward Hawkins 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