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Edna Frederikson papers


Edna Frederikson papers
Frederikson, Edna
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:

Edna Frederikson (1904-1998) was an author of novels and poetry, as well as a professor at Madison College (later James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She met Katherine Anne Porter at the 1940 Bread Loaf Writer's Conference in Middleburg, Vermont. Porter was especially helpful to Frederikson in the early 1940s as Frederikson made the transition from teaching to creative writing. The collection consists of correspondence between Frederikson and Porter. Important subjects include writing, mutual acquaintances, and events in their personal lives.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Edna Frederikson papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

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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

Edna Tutt Frederikson was born in Everton, Arkansas, on January 23, 1904, to David Walker and Britia Martia McNair Tutt; her family later relocated to Arkansas City, Kansas. President of her senior class and editor of the school yearbook, she graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1922. In June 1923, she married Otto Frovin Frederikson, her high school debate coach, and in 1925, she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Parsons College, in Fairfield, Iowa. The Fredericksons pursued graduate studies at the Universities of Iowa and Nebraska, and each received a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1931. Mrs. Frederikson's doctoral dissertation, a biography of Kansas Governor John Pierce St. John, was published in 1930. She taught history for a summer at Kansas State College and then moved in 1931 with her husband to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he joined the faculty of Madison College (later James Madison University) as professor of history and social science. Mrs. Frederikson joined the Madison faculty in 1932 as an instructor in the English department and worked her way up to associate professor before resigning in 1941. While in Harrisonburg, she supervised the Madison College News Service, including the student newspaper.

In 1940, Mrs. Frederikson won a fellowship to attend the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Middleburg, Vermont. She met many writers and publishers there, with whom she shared her first manuscript, Three Parts Earth, a fictionalized account of her childhood years of poverty in the rural South. Two of her acquaintances, Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty, were especially influential in Mrs. Frederikson's decision in 1941 to devote all of her energies to creative writing. Katherine Anne Porter became something of a mentor for Mrs. Frederikson during this period when she made the transition from teaching to creative writing. In the early 1950s, Mrs. Frederikson completed a second novel; unfortunately, the typed manuscript was lost in transit and never recovered.

After Otto Frederikson retired in 1957, the Frederiksons spent much of their time travelling around the world. Three Parts Earth was finally published in 1972, achieving enough success to merit several printings. After her husband's death in October 1973, Mrs. Frederikson continued writing fiction and poetry, spending several years in the late 1970s at literary colonies, including Yaddo, where her application had been denied in the early 1940s. A collection of her poetry, Never Tomorrow, was published in 1988. At the time of her death on February 7, 1998, she was working on a novelistic triptych entitled, "The Idea of Love," an account of a young writer's quest for professional recognition.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Papers of Edna Tutt Frederikson consist of correspondence between Mrs. Frederikson and Katherine Anne Porter from 1941 to 1972. Porter's letters were written at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York; at her nearby home, South Hill; in New York City; and in Reno, Nevada. Mrs. Frederikson's letters were written in New York City; Providence, Rhode Island; and Harrisonburg, Virginia. The correspondence discusses writing, mutual acquaintances, and events in their personal lives.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased nearly all of Frederikson's correspondence from Waverly Associates and Antic Haye Rare Books in 1998. Mrs. Frederikson's February 6, 1972, letter to Porter, discovered in Porter's prepublication copy of Mrs. Frederikson's first novel, was incorporated into the collection when it was processed.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by: Kara M. McClurken, October 1999.

Processing note:

Seventeen of the letters, which were acquired in two separate groupings, were integrated and arranged in chronological order. Edna Frederikson's February 6, 1972, letter, discovered in Porter's pre-publication copy of Three Parts Earth during processing, was removed and placed with the other correspondence of the collection. The collection was placed in an acid-free folder and 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, 1941-1972 (18 items)

This series contains eighteen letters of Katherine Anne Porter and Edna Frederikson. Eleven are Frederikson's letters to Porter. Three of the Frederikson letters are rough drafts of originals located in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter. Six additional Frederikson letters are carbon copies of originals in the Porter papers. There is no existing original for the last of the carbon copies of Frederikson's letters to Porter (April 23, 1942). All of Miss Porter's letters in the collection are originals. Seventeen of the letters date from 1941 to 1943, when Mrs. Frederikson left her teaching position in Harrisonburg to devote her energies to creative writing. Frederikson posted the last of these letters to Porter just before the April 1972 publication of Three Parts Earth, when she sent Porter a pre-publication copy of the novel. Mrs. Frederickson and Miss Porter discuss writing, South Hill, Mrs. Frederikson's efforts to obtain an invitation to Yaddo, and other personal matters, including plans to divorce their respective husbands. Notable persons mentioned include author Eudora Welty, agent Diarmuid Russell, and Elizabeth Ames, the director of Yaddo. The series is composed of originals, rough drafts, and carbons of typed letters, and one autograph Porter letter. The correspondence is arranged in chronological order.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence -- Katherine Anne Porter, 1941-1943, 1972 series 1box 1folder 1

Related Material

Additional correspondence between Katherine Anne Porter and Edna Frederikson may be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, (Series I, Box 28 [Reel 2 of the microfilm edition], Edna Frederikson, 1940-1973). The Porter collection also includes correspondence with Eudora Welty (Series I, Box 39 [Reel 29], 1939-1977 and n.d.); Diarmuid Russell (Series I, Subseries 1, Box 14 [Reel 11], Russell and Volkening, Inc., 1940-1943 and n.d.) and Elizabeth Ames (Series I, Box 54 [Reels 43-44], Yaddo, 1934-1977 and n.d.). Porter's library at the University of Maryland Libraries contains two copies of Three Parts Earth. One is a pre-publication copy and the other is a paperback version. Additional Porter-Frederikson correspondence (KAP to EF, December 26, 1942; EF to KAP, January 4, 1943; EF to KAP, October 2, 1943; and KAP to EF, October 15, 1943) is in the holdings of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Paterno Library, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

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.


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