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Willa Cather - Irene Miner Weisz papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Cather-Weisz

Scope and Content of the Collection

The collection consists almost entirely of letters written by Willa Cather. Most of the outgoing correspondence is letters and cards to Irene Miner Weisz dating from 1912 to 1946, a number of which reveal much about the author's health and her writing. Other outgoing correspondence consists of letters from Cather to Mary Miner Creighton, Carrie Miner Sherwood, and a few other friends. Also, four incoming letters addressed to Cather (one from Sigrid Undset about conditions in Norway after World War II and another from author Fannie Hurst), two miscellaneous letters regarding Cather, and a few newspaper clippings. In some instances, there are associated letters that Cather enclosed with her own letters to Weisz.


  • Creation: 1912-1958



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Willa Cather - Irene Miner Weisz papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Willa Cather - Irene Miner Weisz papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Willa Cather and Irene Miner Weisz

Irene Miner Weisz and her sisters Carrie Miner Sherwood and Mary Miner Creighton were childhood friends of Willa Cather in Red Cloud, Nebraska. Among other activities the Miner girls and Cather put on plays to entertain friends and families, and as the years passed they remained friends and correspondents. Irene Miner married Charles W. Weisz and spent her adult life in Chicago.

Although born in Virginia in 1873, Willa Cather was transplanted to Nebraska when she was nine. This transition from the orderly South to the pioneering frontier of the Great Plains made a lasting impression on her and in her cultured but rather tomboyish youth she observed and became familiar with immigrant farm families struggling to conquer a sometimes hostile environment. The kinship she felt for the new Americans of Nebraska was later reflected in much of her fiction, notably in two of her best-known novels, O Pioneers! (1913) and My Antonia (1918).

Cather graduated from the University of Nebraska in 1895 and began a career first as a teacher and then as a magazine editor, finally settling in New York City in 1906 as editor of McClure's Magazine. During these years she traveled a good deal, developing a special affection both for France and the American Southwest -- the latter described lovingly in the novel Death Comes to the Archbishop -- and then in 1912 she decided to concentrate on supporting herself as free-lance author. What followed was a life dedicated to writing, one in which she published twelve novels and fifty-eight short stories that brought her much popularity and numerous honors and prizes.

Cather never married but she developed and maintained many close and enduring friendships. Some of these, as with the Miner sisters dating from her early life in Red Cloud, Nebraska, lasted all her life. Though in her later years she suffered from bouts of poor health, writing remained her passion and she continued to publish, concluding with Saphira and the Slave Girl in 1940.

Willa Cather, generally regarded as one of the twentieth century's major American writers, died in New York in 1947.


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


Correspondence of Willa Cather, the bulk to Irene Miner Weisz; also two miscellaneous letters relating to Cather and a folder of clippings.


The papers are organized by type of material: outgoing correspondence, alphabetically and then chronologically arranged; incoming correspondence, alphabetically arranged; miscellaneous correspondence, alphabetically arranged; and clippings.

Collection Stack Location

1 36 1


Gift of Irene Miner Weisz, 1959.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1959; Virginia H. Smith, 2000.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Willa Cather - Irene Miner Weisz papers, 1912-1958
Virginia H. Smith
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States