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Paul Corey Papers

Identifier: MsC0585

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Scope and Contents

Paul Corey began donating his papers to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1940, when he deposited the manuscript of his first novel, Three Miles Square. It was one of the first Iowa Author manuscripts received by the libraries and the director's letter of acknowledgment to Corey stated "we hope it will form the nucleus of a collection of manuscripts." Corey continued to deposit his papers (and those of his wife, poet Ruth Lechlitner) with the libraries throughout his lifetime. His daughter, Anne, made the final gift in 1993, less than one year after his death. The papers of Paul Corey consist of twenty-six linear feet of records dating from 1920 to 1992. They document not only his literary accomplishments, but his personal, political, and environmental interests. The papers are organized into four series: Correspondence, Subject Files, Manuscripts, and Scrapbooks. The Correspondence Series dates from 1920 to 1992 and is arranged chronologically. It includes letters from: Clarence A. Andrews, Buel Griffith Beems, Jack Conroy, Phyllis Crawford, August Derleth, John T. Frederick, Philip Gerber, Granville Hicks, Darrell Huff, Ruth Lechlitner, Frank Luther Mott, and Jerre Mangione. The Subject Files Series is arranged alphabetically. Here can be found biographical material about Corey; information about his European trip taken in 1928 -- 1929; financial records; classroom material relating to his home-building course taught at Napa College; research about mountain lions, etc. The third series is made up of Manuscripts. These are arranged alphabetically within three subseries: A. Articles and book reviews; B. Short stories, plays, movies, and novellas; and C. Books and novels. This series documents Corey's literary career with typescript drafts, research, correspondence, galley proofs, reviews, etc., from his published and unpublished works. The last series contains two Scrapbooks kept by Corey.


  • Creation: 1920 - 1992


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. This collection is stored at an offsite location. When requesting materials, please allow two business days for items to arrive at the Special Collections reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Biographical / Historical

Paul Corey was born in the family farmhouse near Marne in Shelby County, Iowa, on July 8, 1903. He was the youngest of seven children. His father died before he was two, but his mother, with the help of her older sons, continued to operate the one hundred-sixty acre farm. When he was fourteen, he moved to Atlantic, Iowa, with his mother and one brother. He graduated from high school there in 1921. Corey attended the University of Iowa, receiving his B.A. in journalism in 1925.

Corey's first job, after graduating, was as a reporter for a trade paper in Chicago. After only a few months there, he moved to New York City where he had a variety of jobs, including work for the Encyclopedia Brittanica and the Real Estate Record and Builder's Guide. While in New York City, Corey married the poet, Ruth Lechlitner. They spent a year in Europe (1928 -- 1929) before moving back to Cold Spring-on-Hudson, New York. There Corey pursued his writing career, while he built their house, and raised chickens for profit. His farm trilogy: Three Miles Square (1939), The Road Returns (1940), and County Seat (1941) was written and published while building that house. The Corey's only child, Anne, was also born in Cold Spring, New York.

In 1947, they moved to Sonoma, California. Here Corey built another house, while continuing his writing. He published a number of "how-to" books and articles for amateur home builders. He also taught a home building class at Napa College.

Paul Corey was a serious environmentalist, animal activist, and political liberal. His most consuming interest was the preservation of the mountain lion in northern California. He was also active in local efforts to spay and neuter domestic pets. A cat lover, Corey published numerous articles, stories, and books regarding feline behavior. He advocated the non-intrusive observation of animals rather than controlled scientific or laboratory testing (which he deplored). His politics remained liberal throughout his life. His was a familiar name on petitions and letters to the editor in Sonoma, protesting local politics and national policies.

Active into his last year, Paul Corey died of a cerebral hemorrhage on December 17, 1992, at the age of 89.


26.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Writer Three Miles Square (1939), environmentalist, and animal activist. Correspondence, subject files, scrapbooks, and preliminary drafts of writings.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection materials were gifted by Ann M. Corey.

Related Materials

Although his correspondence with the University of Iowa is well documented in the papers, the many Corey and Corey-related articles published in the library's own publication, Books at Iowa, are not included. However, ever since depositing Three Miles Square in the Special Collections Department in 1940, Paul Corey and his works have been of continuing interest as noted by these articles: 1) "Paul Corey's Mantz Triology" by Robert A. McCown. No. 17, November 1972. 2) "Lurching Toward Liberalism: Political and Literary Reminiscences" by Paul Corey. No. 49, November 1988. 3) "'I Could Write a Book': Paul and Elizabeth Corey" by Philip Gerber. No. 52, April 1990. 4) "To Know Paul Corey: An Introduction" by Philip Gerber. No. 61, November, 1994. 5) "Becoming an Author ... 1930's Style" By Philip Gerber. No. 61, November, 1994. 6) "Iowa Farming During 1910-1930 as Seen Through Paul Corey's 'Mantz Triology'" by David E. Schob. No. 61, November, 1994. 7) "Rembering Paul Corey" by Jerre Mangione. No. 61, November, 1994. 8) "My Uncle Paul" by Margaret H. Nelson. No. 61, November 1994.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)