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Jack Schaefer Papers

Identifier: MSS -238 -BC

Scope and Content

This collection consists of correspondence between author Jack Schaefer and librarian Arthur DeVolder at Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico regarding research materials used as background information for Schaefer's western stories and other writings. The majority of these letters concern background research regarding writer Mary Hunter Austin. However, in other letters, Schaefer requests information and articles regarding icons of pioneer life in the West such as Montague Stevens, Adolph Bandelier, Thomas James Smith of Abilene, and John Chisum for his book Heroes Without Glory: Some Goodmen of the Old West. He also requests information on Snowshoe Thompson, Dr. Valentine T. McGillycuddy, and western ranchmen, in general, as well as the cattle trade of the West. Among his requests are the early stories of Wilbur Daniel Steele and information regarding horses in America (the latter was likely used for his book The Great Endurance Horse Race). His requests for medieval bestiaries alludes to his later work An American Bestiary. Other letters are more specific, with regard to Schaefer's novels. In one letter, he reports on the status of his book Monte Walsh, then in its third printing. In another, he reminisces about Shane, first published in short story form in Argosy magazine, with Schaefer's last name misspelled. In yet another, he laments having called off a movie deal for Monte Walsh due to the screenplay's changes in the protagonist. Jack Schaefer was known for his "impeccable research." This collection sheds light on what Schaefer was interested in while he was writing as well as some of the background sources he used for his publications.

An addition to the collection was made in 2003 consisting of a bibliography on Mary Austin, compliled by Schaefer on index cards. This bibliography was previously housed with the CSWR book collections.


  • 1920-1968

Language of Materials


Access Restrictions

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.


Jack Warner Schaefer, born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1907, though not a westerner by birth, is best known for his western novels. In fact, the Encyclopedia of Frontier and Western Fiction calls Schaefer "One of the most outstanding authors of Western fiction to emerge after World War II.." Schaefer became a novelist later in his life. Schaefer was raised in Ohio, where he attended Oberlin College. There, he specialized in Greek, Latin, and creative writing. He graduated from that institution in 1929. After briefly pursuing postgraduate studies in eighteenth-century English literature, Schaefer turned to a career in journalism, beginning as a reporter for the United Press. After working at various newspapers, he became editor of the New Haven Journal-Courier of New Haven, Connecticut, and served in that post from 1939-1942. He pursued his journalistic career until 1949.

In 1945, Schaefer began writing fiction in the evenings as a way to relax after work. This pastime soon turned into profession with the publication of his classic novel Shane in 1949. Since its initial publication, Shane has never been out of print, and it has now been translated into 31 languages. Though Schaefer is best-known for this novel, it is by no means his only achievement. Schaefer has published eight novels, eight collections of short stories, one play, and several pieces classified as juvenile fiction. Schaefer, however, claims he never wrote anything deliberately for any particular age group, but rather hopes his work is accessible and of interest to individuals of various age groups. The common themes in Schaefer's works are maturation, the individual's attempt to reconcile personal desires with the demands of society, the effects of western expansion on the land and those who live upon it, and the changing role of the individual in society. In later years, he addressed themes of environmentalism and nature. Schaefer received recognition for his work in the form of the Ohioana Book Award for his novel Old Ramon in 1961, as well as having this book named as an American Library Association Notable Book. He was given a distinguished achievement award from the Western Literature Association in 1975, and Shane was named the Best Western Novel by Writers of America in 1985. Schaefer died in 1991 at age 83 in Santa Fe, the hometown he adopted during his writing years.


1 box


The bulk of this collection is correspondence between author Jack Schaefer and librarian Arthur DeVolder at Zimmerman Library, University of New Mexico, regarding research materials later used as background information for Schaefer's writings.

Related Material

Mary Hunter Austin Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico University Libraries. Peggy Pond Church Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico University Libraries. Augusta Fink Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico University Libraries. Montague Stevens Papers. Center for Southwest Research. University of New Mexico University Libraries.

Relevant Secondary Sources

  • Andrews, Deborah, ed. The Annual Obituary, 1991. Detroit and London: St. James Press, 1992.
  • Erisman, Fred and Richard W. Etulain. Fifty Western Writers. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1982.
  • Sadler, Geoff, ed. Twentieth-Century Western Writers, 2nd edition. Chicago and London: St. James Press, 1991.
  • Tuska, Jon and Vicki Piekarski, eds. Encyclopedia of Frontier and Western Fiction. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1983.
Finding Aid of the Jack Schaefer Papers, 1920-1968
Processed by K. Stocker
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Language of description
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Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//University of New Mexico::Center for Southwest Research//TEXT (US::NmU::MSS 238 BC::Jack Schaefer Papers)//EN" "nmu1mss238bc.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