Fred Lewis Pattee papers, 1821-1954

2422

Collection Overview

Title:
Fred Lewis Pattee papers
Dates (Inclusive):
1821-1954
Creator:
Pattee, Fred Lewis
Abstract:
Fred Lewis Pattee was an author, poet, scholar, teacher, and leading authority on American literature.
Abstract:
The collection includes correspondence, family papers, diaries, travel journals, original works, publications, newspaper clippings, lecture notes, lectures, research notes and scrapbooks, and photographs.
Collection Number:
2422
Size:
21 Cubic feet
Location:
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the  library catalog.
Repository:
Special Collections Library. Pennsylvania State University.
Languages:
English

Biographical or Historical Note

Fred Lewis Pattee was an author, poet, scholar, teacher, and leading authority on American literature. He was born March 22, 1863, on Pattee Hill, near Bristol, New Hampshire, the son of Lewis Franklin and Mary Philbrick Ingalls Pattee. Anna Laura Plumer became his wife in 1889 and died in 1927. They had one daughter, Sarah. In 1928, he married Grace Garee, who died in 1946. His childhood was spent on the family farm, and he attended elementary schools in Bristol and South Alexandria. He worked as a farm boy and printer's devil in a printing shop, and it was here that he began to dream of writing. He completed New Hampton Institution's college preparatory course in 1883. Pattee matriculated at Dartmouth College in 1884, his studies interrupted by the periodic need to earn money as a writer or teacher, but he graduated in 1888. Pattee received his Master of Arts degree from Dartmouth in 1891.

In 1889, Pattee was hired as a high school principal in Mendon, Massachusetts, for a year. For the next four years he was the principal of Coe's Northwood Academy where he and his wife taught.

Pattee accepted a position in September 1894 as Professor of English and Rhetoric at the Pennsylvania State College, and in 1918 was appointed Professor of American Literature; he probably was the first professor in the country to hold a title in American literature. While at Penn State, Pattee took an interest in many activities. In 1895, he was a charter member of the Literary Club and in 1897 was one of two founders of the Penn State Thespians, a student dramatic group. In 1901, he deplored the fact that Penn State had no college song, so he penned the lyrics for "Alma Mater." The song won the immediate approval of the students and was used for the first time at the 1901 commencement exercises. Pattee served as acting chaplain of the college and played an important role in the religious life on campus. He also taught a Sunday school class in the Methodist Church. Pattee played an important part in expanding the college library from only one novel in 1894, to hundreds of novels by the time he retired. In 1941, he presented his library of two thousand volumes of American literature to Penn State at the ceremonies dedicating the new library building. The library contained one of the best collections of reference material on early American literature in the country, including nearly all the anthologies of American literature published between 1800 and 1850, and first editions of a number of notable early American writers.

The author of many books and magazine articles, Pattee's literary output was varied. He published his first book, Literature in the Public Schools, in 1891. His first published verse collection was The Wine of May in 1893, and a second and final collection, Beyond the Sunset, appeared in 1934. Turning to fiction in the early 1900s, he published three novels: Mary Garvin, The House of the Black Ring, and a college novel, The Breaking Point. Out of his chapel talks came a book, Compelled Men, and from his experience as a Sunday school teacher grew Elements of Religious Pedagogy.

A History of American Literature, one of the first college textbooks on the subject, was rejected in 1894, but appeared after several rewritings in 1896 and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. Of all his books, American Literature Since 1870 created the greatest furor because of the emphasis on writers outside of New England, and many of the writers included were still alive when the book appeared in 1915. This publication, combined with two later volumes, The New American Literature (1930) and The First Century of American Literature (1935), constituted probably the fullest history of American literature written by one person.

In 1919, Pattee's large anthology for college students, Century Readings in American Literature, set a standard pattern for later college anthologies. Two additional volumes deal with special phases of the literature, The Development of the American Short Story, and The Feminine Fifties. Two collections of essays, Sidelights on American Literature and Tradition and Jazz, deal with the modern writers of the time. In his editorial work, his most scholarly product is the three-volume set, Poems of Philip Freneau, published between 1902 and 1909. He also edited John Neal's essays, American Writers, James Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans, and C.B. Brown's novel Wieland.

Pattee's poems, short stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, such as The Atlantic Monthly, Mencken's American Mercury, and The Nation. He wrote the article on the American short story in the 1928 Encyclopedia Britannica. As one of the five "charter" editors of the learned quarterly, American Literature and a frequent contributor, he continued his influence on scholarly studies.

Pattee retired from the Penn State faculty with emeritus rank in 1928. After leaving Penn State, Pattee moved to Florida. He later accepted a position as Professor of American Literature at Rollins College, a post he held until 1941. He was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois from 1923-1924. During the summers of 1924, 1925, and 1928-1936, he served as Professor of American Literature at the Bread Loaf Summer School of English in Middlebury, Vermont. In 1948, he completed his autobiography, My World as in My Time. This work was published posthumously as Penn State Yankee: Autobiography of Fred Lewis Pattee (The Pennsylvania State College, 1953).

In 1947, under the increasing weight of illness, Pattee made his last trip to Penn State. He died May 6, 1950, at the age of eighty-seven. In September 1950, Penn State designated the library the Fred Lewis Pattee Library.

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Collection Overview

The Fred Lewis Pattee papers includes correspondence, family papers, diaries, travel journals, original works, publications, newspaper clippings, lecture notes, lectures, research, scrapbooks, and photographs.

Correspondence encompasses personal, professional, literary, and historical letters. Personal correspondence includes letters and cards from family, personal and college friends, former students, and letters pertaining to personal college matters. Professional correspondence with editors, scholars, and critics relates to Pattee's career as a teacher and scholar. Literary and historical correspondence includes letters from authors and a few historical figures. Prominent correspondents include Hamlin Garland (American author), Hamilton Holt (President of Rollins College), Henry Louis Mencken (journalist), and Pennsylvania State College colleagues, William Werner (professor), and George Atherton (president).

Family papers include family farm deeds, early family mementos, and genealogical information. Diaries cover the years 1903 to 1912. Travel journals chronicle a trip to New England in 1880, a bicycle tour of England in 1897, and a trip to Germany in 1902. Materials relating to his college years at Dartmouth are song books, class materials, the program for his fraternity initiation ceremony, and the class poem he read at his commencement, and several Class of 1888 reports.

Professional papers, covering his years at Pennsylvania State College and Rollins College, contain material on the "Alma Mater" and a copy of the original edition written in his own hand. There are several sets of student lecture notes that Pattee reviewed and graded, a roll book for classes at Rollins, and a copy of the commencement speech Pattee gave to the 1936 graduates of Rollins College.

Original works include both published and unpublished poems. The collection contains a galley of a book of poems, Wine of May. Articles and reviews Pattee wrote for magazines and newspapers include many on the subject of American literature. There are scrapbooks containing reviews of his works, such as History of American Literature Since 1870 and Sidelights of American Literature, and book reviews written by Pattee. There are drafts of Pattee's lectures on literary figures, such as Jane Austen, John Keats, and Percy Shelley. Manuscripts of several short stories, "A Chip of New Hampshire Granite," "The Day of Aunt Hannah," and "The Lady of the Maple" are in the collection.

The collection includes the manuscript of his published novel, Mary Garvin, and the unpublished Old Second Street: A Romance of the Revolution, Pedagogy of Jesus, and Under the Spanish Moss. There is only a fragment of the manuscript for History of American Literature Since 1870. Pattee's original autobiography, My World as in My Time, is in the collection, as are the galleys, printer page proofs, and final proofs of Penn State Yankee: Autobiography of Fred Lewis Pattee.

The large scrapbook collection includes newspaper clippings with biographical information on literary and historical figures and topics of interest to Pattee. (The number in parentheses after the subject denotes the number of scrapbooks.)

The photographs in the collection include two albums and a box of loose photographs with pictures of family members, friends, students, and various places he lived, such as New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. There is also a collection of ambrotypes and daguerreotypes of Pattee's father, mother, grandfather, and his wife Anna as a child. Tintypes include childhood pictures of Fred and his wife Anna, and daughter Sarah's baby picture.

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Collection Arrangement

Organized into series: Correspondence, Personal, Professional, and Publications. Series are subdivided by genre and arranged alphabetically, by name or title.

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Copyright Notice

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Fred Lewis Pattee papers, RBM 2422, Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Fred Lewis Pattee in 1950.

Processing Information

Processed by Special Collections staff.

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Controlled Access Headings

Genre(s)

  • Artifacts
  • Music
  • Photographic
  • Scrapbooks

Personal Name(s)

  • Pattee, Fred Lewis

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Collection Inventory

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