University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Barbara McLain:

A Preliminary Inventory of Her Papers in the Manuscript Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: McLain, Barbara
Title: Barbara McLain Papers
Dates: 1919-1970
Abstract: The papers of Barbara McLain contain personal correspondence and other communications related to books and book collecting.
Extent: 2 boxes (.63 linear feet)
Language: English
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Scope and Contents

The papers of Barbara McLain contain personal correspondence and other communications related to books and book collecting. McLain appears to have been an avid collector of twentieth century literature and first editions, especially those of Christopher Morley and Ernest Hemingway. The papers are arranged in two series: I. Correspondence, 1928-1956, and II. Other Papers, 1919-1970.

There is extensive correspondence from Ben Abramson, owner of The Argus Book Shop, sent to Barbara McLain, first from Chicago and then New York, between 1928 and 1953. The discussions in these letters are wide-ranging, beginning with formal reading suggestions and growing to include more personal topics, such as a vacation Abramson took to Mexico and his thoughts on World War II. The correspondence breaks off abruptly in 1953. There is one folder of drafts of letters sent from McLain to Abramson, but these letters are much fewer in number than Abramson's.

Catalogs, book announcements, and invoices that document McLain's book buying are also present in the collection. The catalogs are all from The Argus Book Shop and Argus Books, but there are announcements and invoices from a number of other book sellers as well, including James F. Drake, Inc. of New York, and the Artemisia Book Shop in San Diego. Several folders of personal and family papers also show McLain's interest in books and book collecting, with lists of books she read and articles on book collecting techniques.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Purchase, 1977 (Reg. no. 7538)

The papers of Barbara McLain were found to be mixed in with the archives of the Sunwise Turn Bookshop, bought by the Humanities Research Center from the Gotham Book Mart. Since no relationship could be found between Barbara McLain and Sunwise Turn, it was decided to separate out McLain's collection.

Processed by:

Hope Rider, 2004

Container List

Series I. Correspondence, 1928-1956

Box Folder
1 Outgoing
1 Abramson, Ben, 1933-1946, undated
2 Various A-Z, 1947 and 1956
Abramson, Ben
3 1928-1933
4 1934-1935
5 1936-1937
6 1938-1940
7 1941-1945
8 1946-1953
9 Enclosures, ca. 1932-1940
10 James F. Drake, Inc., 1929-1932
11 Lee, Alfred P., regarding Christopher Morley manuscripts
12 Various A-Z, 1928-1933

Series II. Other Papers, 1919-1970

Box Folder
1 13 Book announcements, Argus Book Shop and James F. Drake, Inc.
14 Book catalogs, Argus Book Shop, undated
Box Folder
2 Book invoices
1 Argus Book Shop, 1929-1950
2 James F. Drake, Inc., 1928-1934
3 Various bookstores, 1928-1951
Family papers
4 Book invoices, to Mr. and Mrs. Frank McLain
5 Correspondence, Ben Abramson to Mrs. Frank McLain, 1934-1943
6 "The Novel in English in the 20th Century," handwritten manuscript
7 Personal papers, ca. 1919-1970