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Charles Morrow Wilson Papers

Identifier: MS W692 311

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content Note

The papers in this collection reflect the personal and professional life of Charles Morrow Wilson, a man who made his living as a writer from the early 1920's to his death in 1977. Besides his free-lance career in several genres, he was employed by institutions, governments, and corporations, almost always in the capacity of interpreting those entities in print. His life's work, therefore, produced extensive records, primarily of a literary nature, with litle documentation of his corporate responsibilities.

Charles Morrow Wilson was a careful correspondent who saved incoming letters and made copies of outgoing letters, even personal ones. He also collected printed material to use for research, photographs for research and illustrations, financial records, and a large number of typescript, carbon, and holograph manuscripts, drafts, and notes. The material was received unarranged in large packing boxes and file cases. Many items were in poor physical condition, especially photographs.

The material has been arranged in 6 series: correspondence, literary manuscripts and related items, photo-graphs, financial records, printed material, and family and personal documents. The bulk of the collection is literary manuscripts. The correspondence is further arranged in subseries. The manuscripts and photographs are further arranged into subseries and files. For more detailed information and box and folder contents see individual series descriptions and container listings.

In addition to the strong biographical value of the entire collection, each series contains specific information that is noteworthy. The family and personal correspondence has letters about: the creation of Wilson Park in Fayetteville, real estate in Arkansas and Vermont, Charles Morrow Wilson's association with the University of Arkansas, the production of the musical Acres of Sky, Arkansas politics, particularly the career of Governor Orval Faubus, and Vermont politics, particularly environmental issues. All of the family correspondence and several items in the personal correspondence are restricted for reasons of personal confidentiality.

The personal correspondence from Charles Morrow Wilson to residents of Fayetteville is primarily concerned with Wilson Park and the University of Arkansas. Many well known political and literary figures are among his other personal correspondents. Charles Morrow Wilson's health, acknowledgements of gift books, work schedules, and real estate transactions are among the most frequent subjects. The professional correspondence reveals Wilson's role as an executive with United Fruit Company during the 1940's. It also vividly creates a record of his publishing career, full of acceptance and rejection letters, discussions with agents, and contract negotiations.

The literary manuscripts are primarily incomplete versions of unpublished work. Nonfiction topics include: biography, agriculture, economics, history, and health in the rural United States, the banana trade in Middle America, Vermont history, and Arkansas culture and politics. One file contains multiple versions of a controversial Reader's Digest article on Governor Orval Faubus. Another file illustrates Wilson's lifelong interest in the Ozark region. Wilson published works of fiction early in his career and worked in that genre again in the 1960's. Over half the fiction subseries contains several forms of an unpublished novel set in the Maya country of southern Mexico.

The photographs are largely unidentified scenes, most of them snapshots, taken in Liberia, Middle America, and to a lesser extent, the rural United States. Two groups record the banana and rubber industries in the 1940's and 1950's. They are arranged according to country. The most impressive set of photographs covers a 1946 archeological expedition to Bonampak, the Maya temple in Chiapas, Mexico. Included are artist's renderings of the temple murals and prints of native Lacondone Indian village life made by Giles Greville Healy. The family and personal photographs are important for biographical reasons. They include several portraits of Wilson from his young manhood to old age.

The rest of the collection is of peripheral interest with the exception of a few periodicals from the 1920 's and 1930's containing articles by Wilson, and a collection of certificates, degrees, and citations signifying hallmarks in Wilson's life.


  • 1877-1977


Language of Materials

Materials are in English.

Access Information

Please call (479) 575-8444 or email at least two weeks in advance of your arrival to ensure availability of the materials.

Use Information

Restrictions apply: Due to the personal nature of the material, all of the family correspondence and certain items in the personal correspondence are restricted. Questions should be directed to the Head of Special Collections.

No Interlibrary Loan.

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

June 16, 1905: Born in Fayetteville, Arkansas to Joseph Dickson Wilson and Mattie [Martha] Maude Morrow.

1911 – 1922: Educated in Fayetteville public schools.

1926: Received B.A. degree from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

1926 – ca 1929: Was associated with Charles J. Finger on the magazine All's Well, published in Fayetteville.

1929: Spent a year studying at Oxford University, England, as a special student.

1930 – 1935: Lived in New York City working part time as a correspondent for The New York Times. Also began a free lance career writing books and magazine articles.

Ca 1935: Married photographer Iris Woolcock and moved to a farm near Putney, Vermont.

1936: Retained by National Broadcasting Company in Public Relations Division; retained by Atlas Corporation to analyze the presidential election of 1936; sent to Cuba by Atlas Corporation to investigate sugar trade. This work came to the attention of the United Fruit Company who subsequently employed him in their banana divisions.

1937: Divorced Iris Woolcock.

1939: Married Martha Lois [Loyce] Starr of Fayetteville and moved to a farm near Putney.

1940: Son, Charles Morrow Wilson, Jr., born.

1941: Appointed special assistant to Samuel Zemmuray of United Fruit Company; Son, James Starr Wilson, born; Proposed and drafted the "Middle America Charter" which was instituted as a policy of United Fruit Company; Appointed director of United Fruit Company's Middle America Information Bureau.

1943 – 1944: Associated with the coordinator of Inter-American Affairs United States Department of State.

1945: Son, Joseph Matthew Wilson, born; begins association with Firestone Plantations Company; became a member of the International Mark Twain Society.

Ca 1945 – 1952: Served as a director of the American Foundation for Tropical Medicine.

1946: Appointed a special consultant, Republic of Liberia, William V.S. Tubman, President.

1946 – 1947: Participated in the United Fruit Company financed archeological expedition to the Maya site of Bonampak in Chiapas, Mexico. 1947: Received a "Distinguished Alumnus" citation from the University of Arkansas.

1947 – 1948: Employed in a management position with Firestone Plantations Company and did public relations work for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

1951: Collaborated on a musical

production based on his 1930 novel Acres of Sky, which was the opening performance at the new Fine Arts Center, University of Arkansas.

1951 – 1953: Family moved to a farm near Fayetteville, then returned to their farm near Putney.

Ca 1957: Employed as an assignment reporter for The Reader's Digest.

1960: Received citation from the University of Florida for outstanding contributions in the field of Inter-American Relations.

Ca 1962: Begins spending winters in Cedar Key, Florida. Continues to publish a wide variety of free­lance magazine articles and books.

Ca 1970: Employed as a contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica; awarded "Doctor of Letters" degree from North American University, Salome, Arizona.

1974: The week of May 15 declared "Charles Morrow Wilson Week" in Putney.

1974 – 1977: Activities focused on an interest in national and Vermont politics. Career focused on a continuation of free-lance magazine and book publications. His health gradually deteriorated due to the complications of diabetes.

March 1, 1977: "Charles Morrow Wilson, 71 ... died in a Hanover, N.H. hospital Tuesday ... burial tentatively scheduled for Friday in Putney." [Northwest Arkansas Times, March 2, 1977]


47.19 Linear Feet (87 boxes)

Arrangement of the Papers

  1. Series 1. Correspondence
  2. Series 1. Subseries 1. Family
  3. Series 1. Subseries 2. Personal
  4. Series 1. Subseries 3. Professional
  5. Series 2. Literary Manuscripts and Related Material
  6. Series 2. Subseries 1. Nonfiction books and book chapters
  7. Series 2. Subseries 2. Articles
  8. Series 2. Subseries 3. Fiction books and book chapters
  9. Series 2. Subseries 4. Short stories
  10. Series 2. Subseries 5. Film synopses, scripts and speeches
  11. Series 2. Subseries 6. Related Material (reviews, bibliographies, book lists, biographical notes, illustrations)
  12. Series 2. Subseries 7. Fragments and notes
  13. Series 3. Photographs
  14. Series 3. Subseries 1. Family and personal
  15. Series 3. Subseries 2. Professional - Maya archeology and Lacondone Indians
  16. Series 3. Subseries 3. Professional - Middle America
  17. Series 3. Subseries 4. Professional - Liberia
  18. Series 3. Subseries 5. Professional - United States
  19. Series 4. Financial Records
  20. Series 5. Printed Material
  21. Series 5. Subseries 1. Articles written by Charles Morrow Wilson
  22. Series 5. Subseries 2. Printed material collected by Charles Morrow Wilson
  23. Series 6. Family and Personal Documents

Acquisition Information

The Charles Morrow Wilson Papers were given in 1978 to the Special Collections Department of Mullins Library, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, by his son Charles Morrow Wilson, Jr.

Related Materials

Records relating to the Charles Morrow Wilson Papers include:

Charles Morrow Wilson Papers University of Oregon Library, Eugene, Oregon

Charles Morrow Wilson Papers University of Vermont, Bailey-Howe Memorial Library, Burlington, Vermont

Processing Information

Processed by Ellen Compton; completed January 1983.
Charles Morrow Wilson Papers
Ellen Compton
January 1983
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Department Repository

University of Arkansas Libraries
365 N. McIlroy Avenue
Fayetteville AR 72701 United States