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Agnes Lee-Edgar Lee Masters Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Lee

Scope and Content of the Collection

Collection consists of thirty-seven items: thirty-five letters from Edgar Lee Masters to Agnes Lee (Freer), 1919-1933; one typed poem "The Jewess" and one printed galley sheet, "The Return." Masters' letters discuss Harriet Monroe, Carl Sandburg, Amy Lowell, Clarence Darrow and Vachel Lindsay. They also comment on Chicago's inability to hang on to literary figures and the stifling influence of Chicago newspapers on the literary scene.


  • Creation: 1919-1933



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Agnes Lee-Edgar Lee Masters Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Agnes Lee-Edgar Lee Masters 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.

Biographies of Edgar Lee Masters, 1869-1950, and Agnes Lee

Edgar Lee Masters was born in Kansas and reared in Petersburg and Lewiston, Illinois, the "Spoon River country" which he later made famous in his collection of apocryphal epitaphs written in colloquial free verse entitled Spoon River Anthology, published in 1914. In 1892 he moved to Chicago, where he practiced law and began to develop his interest and skill in writing. In 1920 he turned to literature as a full-time career, leaving Chicago and settling in New York City in 1921. Masters wrote a great deal of poetry, as well as novels, plays, and historical and biographical studies, including works on Lincoln (1931), Vachel Lindsay (1935), Walt Whitman (1937), and Mark Twain (1938). His autobiography, Across Spoon River, was published in 1936.

Agnes Lee (married Otto Freer in 1911) was a published Chicago poet apparently admired by Masters, for he wrote in his autobiography: "Such excellent and gifted women as Harriet Monroe, Eunice Tietjens, Agnes Freer, though for many years I have seen little of them, still go in their orbits with something of a sustaining magnetism in my life... ."


0.4 Linear Feet (1 box)


35 letters from Edgar Lee Masters to Agnes Lee (Mrs. Otto Freer), one typed poem and one galley sheet.


Materials are arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 24 2


Donated to the Newberry Library, ca. 1955.

Existence and Location of Copies note

Papers are also available on microfilm at the Newberry Library.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1955; 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.

Agnes Lee-Edgar Lee Masters Papers, 1919-1933
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