Mari Sandoz Collection
Title: Mari Sandoz Collection
Creator: Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966
Dates: 1864-1976 (bulk 1931-1966)
Quantity: 199 boxes (186 linear feet)
Collection Number: Spec MS 080
Copyright: To inquire about usage, please contact Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries. For more
information see the Use Guidelines
Preferred Citation: Mari Sandoz Collection (MS 080). Archives & Special Collections, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Libraries.
Mari Sandoz was born 11 May 1896 on the family homestead in Sheridan County in northwestern Nebraska. Upon completing her
elementary education, she qualified as a teacher and taught for the next seven years in rural schools in Sheridan and Cheyenne
Counties in western Nebraska. She married in 1914, but the marriage was dissolved five years later.
Although she never attended high school, she avidly aspired to have a college education. She was able to persuade the University
of Nebraska officials to admit her and, for some ten years, between 1922 and 1932, she attended classes as a part time student,
but never received her degree. She supported herself during the period at Lincoln, Nebraska as a worker in a drug laboratory,
as an English assistant, as a research assistant in the Nebraska State Historical Society, and as a proofreader of the Nebraska State Journal.
Her writing career - or rather, experimentation with writing - began early. She had her first story published in a newspaper
when she was ten years old. In spite of her father's violent disapproval of her artistic endeavors, she continued writing.
In 1927, the Prairie Schooner carried in its first issue her short story "The Vine."
Her literary recognition came with the publication of Old Jules, a biography of her father. The manuscript of the book was rejected over and over again by publishers until it was finally
accepted, and it won the Atlantic nonfiction prize in the amount of five thousand dollars in 1935.
The Trans-Missouri Series (or the Great Plains Series) that opened with Old Jules and was concluded with The Cattlemen in 1958 is undoubtedly Mari Sandoz' central achievement. She undertook the detailed, almost laboratory study of one region,
i.e., the Trans-Missouri Country, from the early stages of human civilization to the recent times in order to learn more about
the human nature in general. The Series also included Crazy Horse, Cheyenne Autumn, The Buffalo Hunters, and The Beaver Men. Crazy Horse, the biography of the Oglala Sioux Chieftain, was named, in 1954, as one of the Ten Best Books of the West. Cheyenne Autumn, depicting the struggle of a small band of homesick Indians on their way to their ancestral home, was made into a movie.
Mari Sandoz also wrote several novels. Slogum House, published in 1937, portrays realistically pioneering days in Nebraska. It was followed in 1939 by Capitol City, which was described by reviewers as an indictment of the sordidness of political and social life in a middle-western capitol.
Other novels of note are Miss Morissa, The Tom-Walker, and Son of the Gamblin' Man.
The awards she received for her literary achievements were numerous. The National Achievement Award by the Westerners Chicago
Corral in 1955 should be singled out as it recognized her contribution to the preservation of the cultural background of the
American West through her writing, and for her unequalled achievement in having four of her books selected by Westerners in
a nationwide poll as ranking in the One Hundred Best Books on the West.
In her busy writing career, Mari Sandoz also shared her literary talent with students. In 1941, she was a staff member of
the Writers' Conference at the University of Colorado and in 1946 at the University of Indiana. Between 1947 and 1956, she
was in charge of Advanced Novel Writing, Writers' Institute, Summer Session, University of Wisconsin. The University of Nebraska
awarded her in 1950 an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature, and in 1954, Governor Robert B. Crosby declared August 23
as "Mari Sandoz Day" in Nebraska.
Sandoz traveled widely, mainly in pursuit of research materials for her books. Eventually she established a permanent home
in New York's Greenwich Village to be close to essential libraries and archives, as well as to her publishers. In the eastern
self-imposed exile she wrote about the West she loved.
Mari Sandoz died in her outpost in New York on 10 March 1966, after a lingering illness. According to her wish her body was
buried on the Old Jules place in the Nebraska Sandhills.
Scope and Content:
The Sandoz Collection is composed of manuscripts, correspondence, research files, notes, maps, and Sandoz's personal library.
In addition to her own work the collection also contains books, articles and taped interviews about Sandoz. This collection
is an important source for history and literature of Nebraska and the Great Plains region. It also documents the career of
one of Nebraska's most successful and distinguished writers.
A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities allowed the University Libraries to create preservation microfilm for
selected materials in the Sandoz Collection. Please see the series description for access to microfilm information.
Aldrich, Bess Streeter, 1881-1954
Botkin, Benjamin Albert, 1901-
Cather, Willa, 1873-1947
Cerf, Bennett, 1898-1971
Crazy Horse, ca. 1842-1877
Dull Knife, ca. 1828-1879 or 1883
Little Wolf, d. 1904
Mencken, H. L. (Henry Louis), 1880-1956
Neihardt, John Gneisenau, 1881-1973
Norris, George W. (George William), 1861-1944
Pound, Louise, 1872-1958
Sandoz, Jules Ami, 1857?-1928
Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
Authors, American -- 20th century
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Correspondence
Cattle trade -- West (U.S.)
Cheyenne Indians -- Biography
Cheyenne Indians -- Government relations
Cheyenne Indians -- History
Crazy Horse, ca. 1842-1877 -- Portraits
Frontier and pioneer life -- West (U.S.)
Fur trade -- North America -- Maps
Fur trade -- Northwest, Canadian
Fur trade -- West (U.S.)
Great Plains -- History
Hunting -- West (U.S.) -- History
Indians of North America -- Literary collections
Little Bighorn, Battle of the, Mont., 1876
Nebraska -- Social life and customs
North America -- History -- Maps
Northwest, Canadian -- History
Oglala Indians -- Biography
Pioneers -- Nebraska -- Biography
Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966 -- Childhood and youth
Sandoz, Mari, 1896-1966 -- Correspondence
Sandhills (Neb.) -- Literary collections
West (U.S.) -- History -- To 1848
West (U.S.) -- History -- 1848-1950
Women historians -- Nebraska -- Biography
Women novelists, American -- 20th century -- Biography
Series 1: Personal Library
This series is associated with Sandoz's personal library, which she used extensively for research. The books relate to Great
Plains history, American Indians, and other topics that she deems of interest. The library includes first editions of her
books, some of which are inscribed. The books are main available through the Libraries' Quick Catalog Search.
Series 2: Research Files and Card Index, Microfilm Reels MS00041-MS00082; MS0092-MS00100
This series of materials includes resources that Sandoz gathered together and used for her research. The Research Files include
documents and original source materials along with newspaper clippings. The Card Index is comprised of approximately 45,000
3" x 5" index cards that reference interviews, notes, articles and publications, and other resources Sandoz consulted or created
for her research and publications. The majority of these materials pertain to Nebraska and Great Plains history and literature.
The files and cards are filed according to the subjects that Sandoz designated and as much as possible in the original order
in which she placed them. The spelling of individual or family names may vary. Some of the cards may include transcriptions,
but it may be neccesary to study the original cards to determine exact words or wording.
Series 3: Manuscripts and Publications, Microfilm Reels MS00142-
Full length book manuscripts, short stories, articles, reviews, speeches, authored by Sandoz are included in this series.
For each of her books there are original manuscripts with handwritten edits, author's proofs, and gallery proofs along with
revisions, interviews, and reference sources for her books. For example, The Beaver Men, materials include revision sheets for the entire book; reference notes on the fur trade in chronological order from 1700
to the 1890s; and reference notes on fur companies, American Indians, fur traders, expeditions, forts, places and events;
published sources and clippings related to the fur trade; duplicates of correspondence dealing with the book; and map notes.
Another example of the variety of materials are those for Miss Morissa, which include edited typescripts and a rough draft and Sandoz's opinion of Hal Kanter's screenplay of the book.
Series 4: Correspondence and Personal Files, Microfilm Reels MS002; MS004-MS0036
The correspondence consists of letters Sandoz received beginning in the middle 1920's until her death in 1966. Sandoz kept
carbon copies of her replies to letters. The files also include materials on her participation in various writers' institutes,
carbon copies of criticism written for the American Association of University Women's national contests from 1956 to 1964
and submitted to the annual Mary Roberts Fellowship for the American Journal of Nursing. There is voluminous personal and
family news clippings, appointment calendars and address books, autobiographical materials, and photographs of the Sandoz,
her family, and friends.
Series 5: Maps, Awards, Artifacts
Sandoz utilized maps extensively in her research and writing. The collection contains 350 maps, including the author's hand-drawn
originals for her nonfiction works. Each of the maps in the map collection is numbered and filed chronologically. This series
also contains a number of awards, trophies, paintings, and various artifacts.