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Donald Elder papers


Donald Elder papers
Elder, Donald
Collection number:
0.25 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
Literature and Rare Books
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

Donald Elder (1913-1965) was an editor with Doubleday, Doran and Co., which published the English translation of José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizardi's The Itching Parrot in Katherine Anne Porter's name. He was also the author of Ring Lardner, A Biography. The collection consists of correspondence between him and Porter. Important subjects include writers and writing and Porter's personal interests and opinions, as well as The Itching Parrot and Ship of Fools.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Donald Elder papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Donald Elder, editor and writer, was born on April 15, 1913, in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Niles, Michigan. In 1935 he received his undergraduate degree from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. While a student at Michigan, Mr. Elder won the freshman literature contest of 1932; the Avery Hopwood Award for creative writing in 1933 for sketches entitled Railroad Men; and a major fiction award in 1935. In 1935, he began his career as an editor at Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., Publishers, where he rose through the company's ranks to become Vice President in 1946. In 1947, he took a leave of absence from the company to write Ring Lardner: A Biography, which was published by Doubleday in 1956.

While Mr. Elder was an editor at Doubleday, he became acquainted with Katherine Anne Porter, and they became close friends. For Doubleday, he edited Eugene Pressly's translation of the Mexican novel The Itching Parrot that was published under Porter's name in 1942. Mr. Elder died May 5, 1965, at the age of 52.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The papers of Donald Elder cover the period 1940 to 1963 and consist primarily of correspondence from Katherine Anne Porter to Donald Elder. The collection includes telegrams, postcards, Christmas cards, and a newspaper clipping. The major topics include Porter's life at her various residences; financial problems; mutual acquaintances; opinions about World War II; Porter's work on The Itching Parrot and Ship of Fools; and family and personal affairs.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Papers of Donald Elder were purchased by the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries from Stephen Elder, Donald Elder's nephew, in August 1972.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed: August 1978. Guide Revised by Jackie Wintle, March 1995 and Jennifer Pitts, June 1996.

Processing note:

Items within the series were arranged in chronological order and divided into six folders. Staples and paper clips were removed and replaced with plastic clips. The correspondence has been placed in acid-free folders in an acid-free box.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Michael Yates.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection has been arranged in a single series.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Correspondence, 1940-1963 and undated (0.25 linear feet)

This series includes letters, telegrams, postcards, Christmas cards, and a newspaper clipping. Major topics discussed in the letters include books; residences; teaching and touring; and publishers. Books discussed include Flowering Judas (1930); Pale Horse, Pale Rider (1939); The Itching Parrot (1942); Ring Lardner (1956); and Ship of Fools (1962). There is discussion of Harcourt Brace and Doubleday. Residences of interest include South Hill (the only home Porter owned) located in Ballston Spa, NY, and others in California; Washington, DC; and Rome, Italy. The letters also take up her participation in writers' seminars at Olivet College in Michigan and traveling on lecture tours. Other subjects discussed in the letters include World War II, politics, and race relations. The correspondence is arranged in chronological order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1940-1942 series 1box 1folder 1
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1943-1945 series 1box 1folder 2
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1946-1951 series 1box 1folder 3
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1952-1955 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1956-1963 series 1box 1folder 5
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, undated series 1box 1folder 6

Related Material

Materials related to this collection can be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, Series I, which contains correspondence from Donald Elder to Porter.

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.


Names (Added Entries)