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Edith Franklin Wyatt Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Wyatt

Scope and Content of the Collection

Part of the collection consists of correspondence, primarily incoming regarding her work, with a few letters about her rather than to her. There are manuscript copies and excerpts of her writings, a few examples of published articles and mementos, numerous newspaper clippings and reviews, and five scrapbooks of miscellaneous material which reflect her interests and work. Also, a manuscript of an annotated edition of Wyatt's work on William Dean Howells, by Rudolf and Clara Kirk in 1968.


  • Creation: 1894-1968
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1894 - 1955



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Edith Franklin Wyatt Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 5 folders at a time maximum (Priority II).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Edith Franklin Wyatt 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 Edith Franklin Wyatt

Chicago author of novels, short stories, poetry, social commentary and literary criticism.

Edith Franklin Wyatt was born in Tomah, Wisconsin in 1873 but lived almost her entire life in Chicago. Her father was a railroad and mining engineer and her mother a published poet, so her early years engendered many interests. After two years at Bryn Mawr College, 1892-1894, and five years of teaching at a local girls' school, Wyatt's first publication in 1900 was entitled "Three Stories of Contemporary Chicago." This work was greatly admired by William Dean Howells, who became her friend and literary champion.

During the century's first decade, while teaching at Hull House and being active in The Little Room, Wyatt produced her best fiction, including short stories in Every One His Own Way (1901) and her first novel True Love (1903). At the same time she began to produce work that reflected her commitment to social causes and she became in great demand as a social commentator and Progressive activist, writing on themes of working-class women, child labor, stockyard animal abuses and other societal problems she observed in Chicago. Although she continued to write stories and poetry, and was one of the founders of Poetry magazine, Wyatt's talents were best displayed in her articles in newspapers and magazines based on civic and social investigations, many of which were assigned by McClure's Magazine. Her first success in this vein was her report of the Cherry Mine Disaster in the Illinois coal fields, and she continued throughout her life to demonstrate her concerns with social issues and human welfare.

Wyatt had friendships with many outstanding people of her day, including William Dean Howells and his daughter. Through her work she was acquainted with Jane Addams, Janet Ayer Fairbank, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Henry B. Fuller, Vachel Lindsay, John T. McCutcheon, Edgar Lee Masters, Theodore Roosevelt, Karl Shapiro, Ida Tarbell, Booth Tarkington and Edmund Wilson. Wyatt, who never married, died in Chicago in 1958.


2.6 Linear Feet (3 boxes and 1 oversize case)


Correspondence of Chicago writer and social activist Edith Franklin Wyatt, plus drafts of works, contracts, scrapbooks, clippings and mementos.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Outgoing Correspondence, undated, 1922-1955
Box 1
Series 2: Incoming Correspondence, etc., 1900-1955
Box 1
Series 3: Works, etc., approximately 1901-1955, 1968
Boxes 2-4

Collection Stack Location

1 37 7


Gift of Faith Wyatt, 1959

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1965; Virginia H. Smith, 2001


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 Edith Franklin Wyatt Papers, 1894-1968, bulk 1894-1955
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