Department of Special Collections and University Archives
McFarlin Library. University of Tulsa.  2933 E. 6th St.  Tulsa, OK.  74104-3123 (OKT - OkTU)

Richard Ellmann papers

Collection 1988-012


Extent:  (350 boxes).

Level of Description:   Folder level (contents unprocessed).

Name of creator(s):  Richard Ellmann.

Date of creation:  Unknown.

Scope and Content:  The contents of individual files have been left largely undisturbed, but the files themselves have been organized into three principal series: the research files; Ellmann family correspondence; and personal and miscellaneous papers. Series 1 is organized alphabetically by folder label, the majority of which record personal names. Where it has not been possible to decipher or determine surname, material is filed by first name (or nickname).

Series 1 contains four important sub-series -- for James Joyce, the Norton Anthology, Oscar Wilde and W.B. Yeats -- wherein are lodged research materials, correspondence and draft writings which derive from Ellmann's sustained interest in these authors and projects. The sub-series can be said, at best, to be loosely organized, but fuller inventories for them follow the Series 1 inventory. We have also more fully inventoried the materials in the T.S. Eliot, Serge Eisenstein, and Sean O'Faolain folders, and those inventories are also present as an addenda here.

Series 2, Ellmann family correspondence, is arranged chronologically. It is notable in several respects: Ellmann's parents, his brother Erwin, Ellmann himself, and later his wife, Mary, were all prolific letter writers; and letters were in addition often circulated about the family, gathering commentary as they moved from person to person. The earliest letters date to Ellmann's high school days. His later letters record his college and war-time experiences, and they provide extensive documentation of his early scholarship, including travel in search of Joyce biographical sources.

Series 3, personal papers, like Series 1, contains several sub-series. The first 19 boxes contain early and miscellaneous writings, school and college papers, and memorabilia. This is followed by several boxes of financial papers for the years 1950 to 1969; 20 boxes of Mary Ellmann's research and writings; 7 boxes of family memorabilia; and 3 boxes of photographs.

Administrative/Biographical History:  Richard Ellmann (1918-1987), Professor of English Literature at Northwestern, Oxford and Emory Universities, was a leading scholar and biographer of James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. His papers consist of a wide variety of research and personal materials (correspondence, offprint and photocopied articles, photographs, and sound recordings) for his classes, lectures, and writing as well as extensive files (including drafts, setting copies, galley and page proofs) for his published books.

As might be expected, Ellmann used a number of different principles for determining filing point in these several sequences, and he followed those principles with less than perfect consistency. Our inventory, consequently, is neither exhaustive nor fully descriptive of folder contents. It may, however, prove a useful starting point for many research projects. The papers were first unpacked from shipping cartons during May and June 1988 by student assistant Richard Warzynski who at that time compiled preliminary lists from folder labels. More complete reorganization, in several phases, was done by Milissa Burkart during 1990-91.

Ellmann's working library, containing several rarities and a substantial number of annotated volumes, has not yet been fully cataloged, but records for both Library of Congress classified and brief-recorded titles can be retrieved from the online catalog by keyword searching "Ellmann Collection" (about 2760 citations at this date). Titles which duplicate existing holdings and which will not be retained have been listed on a database which is available from staff.

Ellmann also owned a number of letters and documents by Joyce, Wilde, Yeats, and others for which he had had protective boxes or portfolios constructed. These have been individually cataloged and again can be retrieved by way of keyword search on "Special Collections Manuscripts Ellmann Collection".

Access and Copyright:

Language and Scripts:  Primarily English.

Finding aid/Inventory:  Finding aid is available online.

Provenance/Source of Acquisition:  The Ellmann Papers came to Tulsa from three sources: the largest number of files were in Ellmann's Oxford rooms; a smaller number were in his London home; and another lot was transferred from the Emory University Library where Ellmann had deposited them during his time there. This last lot appeared to be a mix of older personal papers and research files from his Northwestern days as well as some Emory papers.

Date(s) of description:   Sidney F. Huttner, Jan 1992; rev Apr 1995; rev Feb 1996.

Access Points:

Subject Headings 

Personal names

Corporate names


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Revised: 12/08/11.

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