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Dana Burnet papers

Identifier: Coll 141

Scope and Contents note

The Dana Burnet Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, magazine tearsheets, publicity material, contracts, and personal material. Correspondence comprises the first series and is arranged chronologically, spanning the years 1926-1959. Primarily business-related, most of the correspondence consists of exchanges between Burnet and his literary agents in New York, Carl and Carol Brandt.

Manuscripts, separated by type, are arranged alphabetically by title. They consist of both published and umpublished works. In some cases, the published title will vary from the working title. Short stories form the largest segment. The remainder consists of plays, screenplays, and synopses for both stage and screen. Of note in this series is the script for The Great Commandment, which was made into a film by a small, private firm (Cathedral Films) and later sold to Twentieth Century-Fox. The film was released in 1939. Reviews of the film and other publicity is filed separately.

The next series contains tearsheets from magazines of stories and articles by Dana Burnet. These are arranged alphabetically by title and contain stories published by Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, Ladies' Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Red Book, among other magazines. Contracts releasing motion picture rights for some stories are filed under "Contracts."

Many of the stories in this collection can be characterized as light comedies or romances, usually set in small towns. Burnet often used locales in which he resided for the settings of his stories. Some of his stories, for example, are set in "Lymington," Connecticut, a clear reference to Stonington, Connecticut. In some stories, he modeled characters after himself, his wife, and other people he knew. The true names of persons and locales were changed, of course.


  • 1915-1963


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

Dana Burnet (1888-1962), a writer of short stories, plays and poems, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July 3, 1888. He was educated at Cornell University, where he earned a law degree in 1911.

Instead of practicing law, however, he immediately launched his writing career by serving as a reporter and editor for the New York Sun from 1911 to 1918. It was during this period that Burnet also began writing and publishing his own poems and short stories. A book entitled Poems was published by Harper Brothers in 1915.

Burnet was married twice: to Marguerite Dumary in 1913, and to Eugenia Chapin in 1936. He and his second wife lived in Beverly Hills, California, until around 1948. During this time Burnet was writing screenplays, one of which was released as a film titled The Great Commandment, in 1939. He also was employed for a brief time as a staff writer for Twentieth Century-Fox.

Meanwhile, Burnet continued to write and sell numerous short stories and articles which were published in such magazines as Collier's, Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, and Red Book. In 1948, he and his wife moved to the Narragansett Bay community of Stonington, Connecticut, where he spent the rest of his life. There he designed and built his own house in 1959.

Dana Burnet died on October 22, 1962.


6 linear feet (12 containers)

Language of Materials



The papers consist of Dana Burnet's correspondence, 1926-1959, primarily with his literary agents Carl and Carol Brandt; manuscripts of short stories, plays and screenplays, most notably The Great Commandment; tearsheets; and contracts.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series: CorrespondenceManuscripts: Short storiesManuscripts: PlaysManuscripts: OtherTearsheetsPublicity material: The Great Commandment (Film)ContractsPersonal material

General Physical Description note

12 containers

Preferred Citation note

[Identification of item], Dana Burnet Papers, Coll 141, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by James A. Kenny.

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 Dana Burnet Papers
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Finding aid prepared by James A. Kenny
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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