EUGENE FIELD PAPERS
SCOPE AND CONTENT NOTE
The Eugene Field Collection spans the years 1860 to 1980 with the bulk of the material dating between 1880 to 1930. The collection includes handwritten manuscripts of Field's writings in verse and prose; correspondence between Field, his family, friends and colleagues; publications by or about Field; researchers correspondence and articles; and collections held by private and public institutions. This material conveys Eugene Field's personal and public life.
The writings by Field are divided into three categories: verse, prose and general. The manuscripts are arranged in alphabetical order according to title. Field wrote the manuscripts by hand and many include small drawings or illustrations. In addition, the collection contains numerous letters Field wrote to his wife and children, providing insight to Field's close relationships with his family.
Friends and associates of Field began collecting his work in the 1880s. Once Field passed away, his publications, letters, newspaper articles and columns, and manuscripts became collectibles. The collection includes an extensive amount of material produced by researchers and collectors. These papers consist of correspondence, notes, articles, tributes, indexes and lists of the Field collections.
In addition to the collection, the Western History/Genealogy Department retains many publications by and about Field.
* Because the material previously had been identified and organized differently, the original identification number is in brackets and located between the file folder number and the date for each item listed. Not more than 1 folder from a vault box may be used at a time.
The series consists of writings in verse, prose and general. Field wrote the majority of the manuscripts in pen. Some of the prose and verse include illustrations by Field. A small quantity of the material is either a photocopy or transcript, which is noted by the title. The three types of writing, prose, verse, general comprise the series. Each style is arranged in alphabetical order.
The correspondence is arranged first according to whom Eugene Field wrote and follows in chronological order. The series is in the following order: Eugene Field correspondence sent to his wife, Julia Comstock Field, children and other individuals. The correspondence to Field and his family follows.
The series consists of original printings and reprints from Sharps and Flats, leaflets, pamphlets, musical scores and programs from Field readings and lectures.
Oversize material comprises the publication The Holy Cross and Other Tales by Field, musical scores, prints of Eugene Field and memorial to Field published as a supplement to the Yenowine News.
The series consists of articles, stories and verses by and about Field during and after his death. The publications are arranged in alphabetical order according to the name of the magazine or newspaper.
Announcements and reviews are arranged in alphabetical order by the title of the publication by or about Field. The series contains extensive notes and entries on the Eugene Field collection held at the Denver Public Library.
Personal material in the series consists of a scrapbook, wedding announcement and letters of introduction and regarding Field. The scrapbook contains invitations, programs and tickets primarily from the World Columbian Exposition, the last nineteenth century World Fair, held in Chicago in 1893.
The cover to the family photo album, copies of prints and etchings of Field, his family and associates are included in the Series.
The series documents the extensive investigation conducted by collectors and researchers on Field. Material includes their correspondence, articles, publications, tributes and indexes. In addition, the catalogs of private and institutional Field collections were copied and included.
Portraits of Field at various times in his life comprise the bulk of the collection. Images of his family and friends are also included.
Literary rights and copyrights have been assigned to the Denver Public Library to permit research use and properly cited quotations.
All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.
Eugene Field (1850-1895) was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 2, 1850. His father, Roswell M. Field, is recognized as a distinguished lawyer. His mother, Francis Reed Field, died in 1856. After her death, Field and his older brother, Roswell, went to Amherst, Massachusetts to live with their cousin, Mary Field French. In 1868, Field spent a year at Williams College. After his father's death in 1869, Field transferred to Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. While at Knox, Field had his first contact with the newspaper world when he contributed to the Galesburg Register. The following year, 1870, Field joined his brother at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Field gained a reputation as a prankster at the University. In 1872, Field won the University Oratory prize. However, Field and his brother both failed mathematics, a course required for graduation.
Later in 1872, Field took an advance on his father estate to travel with a college classmate, Edgar Comstock, throughout Europe. Field and Comstock toured for six months, returning to St. Louis in 1873. Upon his return, at age 23, Field married Comstock sister Julia (1857-1936), who was 16 at the time. They had eight children: Russell Martin (July 1874-September 1874), Mary French (1876-1950), Melvin Gray (1878-1890), Eugene Jr. (1880-1946), Frederick Comstock (1881-1927), Julia (1882), Roswell Francis (1893-1952) and Ruth Gray (1894-1962).
Field began working at the St. Louis Evening Journal in 1873 as a reporter. Within six months, he became the city editor. From 1875-1876, Field worked at the St. Joseph Gazette as the city editor. In 1876, he returned to the now merged St. Louis Times-Journal as editorial writer. Funny Fancies, his first column, appeared in the Times-Journal and shortly afterwards was widely copied by other newspapers. Field moved to Kansas City in 1880 to become managing editor of the Times. While Field worked at the Times, he wrote one of his well-remembered poems,
The Little Peach.
From 1881 to 1883, Field served as managing editor, news editor, columnist and poet of the Denver Tribune. The Tribune, owned by railroad and political leaders, dominated Colorado and Denver. While working at the newspaper, Field contributed to a column titled Odds and Ends. He collected many of these writings for his first volume, The Tribune Primer, a 98-page book with a limited circulation. The book includes
The Wasp and
The Baby. While in Denver, Field met many famous personalities including humorist Bill Nye, and newspaper publishers Melville E. Stone of Chicago and Charles A. Dana of New York. The Tribune hired Bill Nye as a writer and Melville E. Stone eventually brought Field to Chicago. Charles Dana and his newspaper, the New York Sun, were paid tribute by Field, but when Dana offered Field a job he declined. Field never wanted to live any closer to the East Coast than Chicago.
Field column in Denver was titled the Current Gossip. The best of his works from the column appear in A Little Book of Western Verse. The book increased Field's fame across the country and newspapers continued to reprint his columns. In 1883, Field accepted Stone's offer to join the Chicago Morning News. Field agreed to work for the Chicago Morning News on the condition that he only reported to Stone. Several years later, Stone sold his interest in the newspaper to Victor Lawson. Field and Lawson continued to work together for the next seven years. When Field initially began working in Chicago, he left reporting to devote time to his column. His first column for the newspaper, Current Gossip, appeared on August 16, 1883. On August 31st it was renamed Sharps and Flats, a title taken from a play appearing in the city. The columns contain both humorous and serious prose and verse. Occasionally, Field wrote verses but attributed them to others and often devoted a full column to one of his tales or short stories. The topics of his columns range from sports, especially baseball, to a series on the political scene. Well-known personalities often became the subjects of his writings, as he loved to satirize Chicago and its citizens. Another popular topic with Field is food, most likely because of his stomach ailment.
This illness prompted Field to seek better health in Europe and California but without success. Field's 14 months in England, from 1889-1890, neither improved his health nor improved his attitude. Field returned to the United States in 1890 after the death of his son Melvin. In the fall of 1893, Field went to California but left San Diego for Chicago in 1894. Field continually turned his attention toward books, amassing a collection of 3,500 publications. His last writing, the day before his death, was the final chapter of The Love Affair of a Bibliomaniac. Field died in his sleep on November 4, 1895. The newspaper he wrote for reported "All of the children of the land mourn their laureate".
2 oversize boxes
3 oversize volume
2 photo boxes
Language of Materials
Other Finding Aids
The Eugene Field Papers is comprised of materials donated to and purchased by the Denver Public Library. The donations and purchases span 1940-1980s.
Number of Boxes: 22
Oversize Boxes: 2
Oversize Volumes: 3
REVISED AND ENCODED BY:
- Authors, American -- Colorado -- 19th century. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Correspondence. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Journalists -- United States -- 19th century. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Manuscripts for publication. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Personal papers. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Photographs. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Poetry. Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Poets, American -- Colorado -- 19th century. Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- EUGENE FIELD PAPERS
- Revised 2009
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script