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J.B. Shaw Collection on Willa Cather and Harry Sylvester,

Identifier: MSS-198-SC

Scope and Content

This collection has two components, each focusing on a particular author. The bulk of the collection is comprised of information about Willa Cather, while the other portion centers on author Harry Sylvester. The collection includes multiple book reviews both of books by Willa Cather and those about her. The same is true for books by and about Harry Sylvester. Book reviews written by Sylvester are also included, as are responses to assorted book reviews and Sylvester's replies to those responses. The portion of the collection which centers on Willa Cather contains clippings about her as well as scattered issues of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation Newsletter (1965-1967). There are also some materials relating to her editorship of McClure's Magazine. Select short stories by both authors are also present in this collection which constitutes a valuable resource for scholars seeking bibliographic data regarding either author.


  • 1909-1974
  • Majority of material found in 1923-1967

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication of CSWR material is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright, privacy, and libel laws. Permission is required for publication or distribution.

Biographical Information

Noted author, Willa Cather was born in Virginia in 1876, from where she moved, along with her family, to the Nebraska Prairie, which is depicted in some of her most well-known novels. Many of the works of this great novelist of the 1910s and 1920s relate the experiences of pioneer life on the Nebraska frontier. Cather was educated at the University of Nebraska. She served as a teacher, and later as the managing editor of McClure's Magazine.

In 1912, she left McClure's and began publishing novels. O Pioneers!, The Song of the Lark, My Antonia, A Lost Lady, and Death Comes to the Archbishop are a few of her numerous publications. Her subject matter includes the pioneers of the West, colonial New Mexico, 18th century Catholic Quebec, and pre-civil war Virginia. Cather was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1940 she was awarded the Gold Medal for Fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 1931, Cather was the first woman to receive an Honorary Degree from Princeton University in recognition of her contributions. She was fairly secretive about her personal life. Cather died in New York in 1947 at age 70.

Harry Sylvester (1908-1963), of Irish descent from Brooklyn, New York, graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1930. In 1931, he worked as the Midwest correspondent for the New York Evening Post, and as a reporter for the New York Herald Tribune and the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, before turning to freelance work. Sylvester published short stories in publications such as the Commonweal, Collier's, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, Columbia, Western Review, and Scribner's. His novels include Big Football Man (1933), Dearly Beloved (1942), Dayspring (1945), Moon Gaffney (1947), A Golden Girl (1950) and a collection of short stories titled All Your Idols (1948).

While his short stories reflect his travels in Mexico, and his final novel centers upon his visits to and residence in Peru, the majority of his work revolves around the theme of Catholicism in contemporary America. At least two of his novels (Dearly Beloved and Moon Gaffney) are considered anti-clerical. Dayspring deals with the Penitente sect of New Mexico.


3 folders (128 items)


This collection consists of bibliographic material as well as reviews of books by and about authors Willa Cather and Harry Sylvester.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Lewis, Edith. Willa Cather Living: A Personal Record.New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1953.
  • Seymour-Smith, Martin and Andrew C. Kimmens, eds. World Authors 1900-1950, vol. 4. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1996.
  • Warfel, Harry R. American Novelists of Today.New York: American Book Company,1951.
Finding Aid of the J.B. Shaw Collection on Willa Cather and Harry Sylvester, 1909-1974 (bulk 1923-1967)
Processed by Karen Stocker
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 198 SC::J.B. Shaw Collection on Willa Cather and Harry Sylvester)//EN" "nmu1mss198sc.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the UNM Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections Repository

University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research & Special Collections
University Libraries, MSC05 3020
1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque NM 87131