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Ruth Lechlitner Papers

Identifier: MsC0474

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Scope and Contents

The papers of Ruth Lechlitner consist of 9.5 linear feet of records, dating from 1919 to 1988. They are arranged chronologically within an alphabetical sequence. Lechlitner corresponded with many important people in literary and publishing circles, especially in the 1930s and 1940s. There are almost six boxes of correspondence, including letters from: George Abbe, Millen Brand, Witter Bynner, John Ciardi, Carroll Coleman, Paul Corey, Howard M. Corning, Norman Corwin, David DeJong, George Dillon, Erling Larsen, Jay Latimer, James Laughlin, Willard Maas, Archibald MacLeish, Jerre Mangione, Marianne Moore, Howard Moss, Lewis Mumford, Frederic Prokosch, Kenneth Rexroth, Norman Rosten, Isidor Schneider, Winfield T. Scott, Irita Van Doren, and Hendrik Willem Van Loon.

Ruth Lechlitner's poetry is well represented. Her three published volumes are documented with drafts, proofs, correspondence, and reviews. There are also examples of books that were never published or completed. Most of her individual poems appear in either draft or published form.

However, the papers of Ruth Lechlitner are more than literary correspondence and poetry. There are also glimpses of her life as a young high school girl, college student, teacher, wife, and mother; illustrated with high school scrapbooks, college recollections, teaching files, and family letters.


  • Creation: 1919-1988


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Biographical / Historical

Ruth Lechlitner was born near and grew up in Mishawaka, Indiana. After she graduated from high school, her parents moved to Lansing, Michigan. She received her A.B. from the University of Michigan in 1923. For the next two years she taught high school English in New Mexico. Lechlitner was offered a scholarship to the University of Iowa, based upon the several poems she had written and had published in such respected journals as Poetry. While at Iowa she worked as the assistant editor of The Midland (edited by John T. Frederick and Frank Luther Mott). The Midland published several more of Lechlitner’s poems. She received her M.A. in 1926.

Moving to New York City, she became an editorial assistant at The Nation. In 1928, Lechlitner married the author, Paul Corey, whom she had met at Iowa. After a year of traveling abroad, they settled in Cold Spring-on-Hudson, New York. There they built their own home and weathered the Great Depression as free-lance writers and chicken farmers. Their only child, Anne, was born in 1941. In 1947, they moved to Sonoma, California, again building their own home. Ruth Lechlitner continued to write and publish poetry while supplementing their income by working as a substitute teacher.

She published three books of poetry: Tomorrow’s Phoenix, 1937; Only the Years, 1944; and The Shadow of the Hour, 1956. (Copies of these books may be found in the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries). She also had two radio dramas produced in addition to her poems which appeared in such respected journals as Poetry, The New Yorker, The Saturday Review, Harper’s Bazaar, and The Nation. She was working on another collection of poetry, tentatively titled Through the Glass Darkly, when she became ill. Ruth Lechlitner died on November 9, 1989, after a long illness.


9.50 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Poet and teacher. Correspondence, subject files, and preliminary drafts of her writings.

Method of Acquisition

Ruth Lechlitner donated the manuscripts of her three poetry books to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1972. However, the bulk of her papers were given by her husband, Paul Corey, in 1990, following her death the previous November.

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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)