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Shirley Abbott Papers

Identifier: MC 1353

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of the papers of Arkansas writer Shirley Abbott; the bulk of the materials are related to her books The Bookmaker's Daughter and Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South, as well as to a Garland County Historical Society project about Hot Springs mayor Leo McLaughlin that Abbott was involved with. Materials include manuscripts, correspondence, reviews, research materials, and interviews.


  • circa 1922-2018


Language of Materials

Finding aid is written in English.

Conditions Governing Access

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

Conditions Governing Use

No Use Restrictions Apply.

No Interlibrary Loan.

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

Biographical / Historical

Shirley Jean Abbott Tomkievicz (1934–2019) was an Arkansas-born writer and the author of three memoirs, Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South (1983), The Bookmaker’s Daughter: A Memory Unbound (1991), and Love’s Apprentice: The Education of a Modern Woman (1998). Abbott also worked as an editor, journalist, and historian.

For additional information on Abbott, see Compton, Ellen. "Shirley Jean Abbott Tomkievicz (1934–2019)." Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture,


5 Linear Feet (6 boxes and 1 oversize folder)


The collection is divided into five series; the first three series each contain materials related to a specific writing project, the fifth series contains correspondence files, and the fourth series contains the remainder of collection materials.

  1. The Bookmaker's Daughter Materials,
  2. Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South Materials
  3. “Life and Times of Leo P. McLaughlin” Project Materials
  4. Other Writings, Speeches, and Biographical Materials
  5. Correspondence

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Shirley Abbott Papers were donated to Special Collections by Shirley Abbott Tomkievicz of New York, New York on December 18, 2002.

Additional materials (Items added to Box 3, Folders 6-7; Box 3, Folders 8-10; Boxes 5-6, and OV Folder 1) were donated by Abbott's daughter, Katharine A. Rubick of Portland, Oregon, on November 14, 2023.

Related Materials

See also the following related materials:

Two interviews of Abbott are included within MC 1266 Rebecca Newth “Arkansas Voices” Oral History Interview Collection

The records of Abbott's literary agency, the Wallace Literary Agency, are held at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin: Manuscript Collection MS-04982 Wallace Literary Agency Records

Processing Information

Processed by Katrina Windon and Huong Nguyen; completed in May 2022.

Updated by Katrina Windon in January 2024 to incorporate an additional donation of materials. These include items added to Box 3, Folders 6-7; Box 3, Folders 8-10; Boxes 5-6, and OV Folder 1.



Shirley Abbott Papers
Katrina Windon
May 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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
(479) 575-8444