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Mary Hartwell Catherwood Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Catherwood

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection of mostly outgoing correspondence, manuscript and published writings, diaries, notebooks, notes for stories, clippings, photographs and some miscellaneous material relating to Mary Hartwell Catherwood's life and career.

With the exception of a few incoming letters, the correspondence in the collection is mainly letters Catherwood wrote to her aunt, Harriet H. DeVault, to a friend, Eleanor Ruthrauff, and (mostly in 1891) to her husband, James Steele Catherwood. Of the incoming correspondence, two letters are originals: one from Canadian writer, Sir John George Bourinot, and the other from actor Otis Skinner. The rest of the incoming correspondence consists of photocopies of a few letters from James Whitcomb Riley and Eugene Field.

Besides correspondence, there are three notebooks of jottings, ideas for writing and miscellaneous notes; a small diary kept on an ocean voyage in 1891; some recipes and loose memoranda; newspaper clippings; a biographical article and a published bibliography of her work; a copy of a Thomas Nast drawing; and photographs of Catherwood and Otis Skinner.

Half the collection is made up of examples of her work, both in manuscript form and from published sources.


  • Creation: 1865-1945



Materials are in English.


The Mary Hartwell Catherwood Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Mary Hartwell Catherwood 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 Mary Hartwell Catherwood

Writer of romantic historical novels and short stories.

Mary Hartwell Catherwood was born in Ohio in 1847. After spending most of her life in the small Midwestern towns where her husband's business took her and her daughter, at the end of her life she settled in Chicago, where she died in 1902.

Catherwood was a central figure in Middle Western authorship during the 1880s and 1890s, writing historical romances, both short stories and novels. Many of her regional, local-color tales reflect life in the corn-belt towns of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, as well as the French traditions along the American-Canadian border. Yet she also employed historical settings such as Colonial Arcadia and nineteenth century Mackinac Island. Both well-educated and ambitious, Catherwood had a successful writing career, publishing consistently in magazines of the period, such as Lippincott's Magazine, Harper's Magazine and Atlantic Monthly, as well as in several periodicals for young people.

The popularity of Catherwood's sentimental, romantic style and subject matter waned with the advent of a new realism in literature after the turn of the twentieth century, but her regional short stories are of interest for their rich local color and details of speech, manners, emotions and incidents of the times.


1.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes and 1 oversize folder)


Correspondence, diaries, notes and works of writer Mary Hartwell Catherwood. Also, a few photographs, clippings and articles relating to Catherwood.


The papers are organized by type of material in two boxes: Correspondence, Diaries/Notebooks/Notes, Miscellaneous material, drawing and photographs, 1874-1945 (Box 1); Works (Box 2 and oversize folder). Arranged alphabetically.

Collection Stack Location

1 9 6, 1 16 3


Gift of Mrs. Donald Cameron (daughter), 1947. Addition Gift of Annette Johnson, 2023.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1947; 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 Mary Hartwell Catherwood Papers, 1865-1945Midwest.MS.Catherwood
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by 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