Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Harriette Simpson Arnow Collection

Accession Number: 51
Harriette Simpson Arnow Papers, 1936-1986
Bulk Dates: 1949-1986
0.2 Linear Feet
Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Overview & Series Description
Series I - Personal/Biographical
Series II - Correspondence
Series III - Writings
Series IV - Photographs

Overview of the Collection

These are papers relating to the life and writings of Harriette Simpson Arnow (1908-1986). The collection consists mainly of clippings, correspondence, manuscript fragments, miscellaneous essays, and reviews of Arnow’s work. There are also Pulaski County school photographs with Arnow’s handwritten captions and Detroit News photos of Arnow and her children at home.


Arnow was born and grew up in Wayne County, Kentucky, attended Berea College for two years (1926-1928), and graduated with a degree in sciences from the University of Louisville (1930). She taught school in Louisville and Pulaski County before moving to Cincinnati in 1934 to concentrate on her writing. There she supported herself variously as a waitress, library clerk, and assistant in the Federal Writers’ Project. Writing as Harriette Simpson while in Cincinnati, she produced several essays and two novels, Mountain Path (1936) and Between the Flowers, which didn’t come to print until 1999. In 1939 she married Harold Arnow and they moved to Pulaski County, where they lived five years, writing and farming.

In 1944, the Arnows moved to Michigan, where Harold worked as a reporter for The Detroit News. In 1947, they and their two children, Marcella and Tom, moved to a farm outside Ann Arbor. Major publications that followed include Hunters Horn (1949), The Dollmaker (1954), Seedtime on the Cumberland (1960), Flowering of the Cumberland (1963), The Weedkillers Daughter (1970), The Kentucky Trace (1974), and Old Burnside (1977). A film rendition of The Dollmaker staring Jane Fonda was released in 1984. Arnow published numerous articles as well and served as an instructor at the Appalachian Writers Workshop held annually at Hindman Settlement School. She died March 21, 1986, and was buried at her farm at Keno in Pulaski County, Kentucky.

Related Berea College Archives

William J. Hutchins Papers, RG 3.04
Council of the Southern Mountains Records, SAA 1
Appalachian Center Records, RG 5.09

Series Description
1 Manuscript Box

Series I   Personal/Biographical   Box 1

Biographical material from published sources, numerous clippings, early bibliographies of Arnow’s work, and a guide to her manuscript materials at the University of Kentucky.

Series II   Correspondence (1899-1935) Box 1

Correspondence concerning Arnow’s work and her opinions on the interpretation and understanding of the Appalachian region. She expresses both gratitude for encouragement she received while at Berea and the hope that Berea College will come to a better understanding of the “Southern Appalachian.”

Series III    Writings Box 1

Reviews, textual excerpts, book jackets and related items for Mountain Path, Hunters Horn, The Dollmaker (including the 1984 film version), Seedtime on the Cumberland, and The Kentucky Trace. Of particular interest are manuscript fragments of the Christmas portion of The Dollmaker consisting of a small handwritten notebook, a typescript with notations, a few galley-sheets, and a book jacket. Some miscellaneous writings are also represented, including Arnow’s pamphlet, “What Berea Meant to Me.”

Series IV Photographs Box 1

Photographs include views of one-room Pulaski County schools Arnow taught in (with written notations) and Detroit News photos of Arnow and children at home.

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