Furness, Clifton Joseph, 1898-1946

Variant names

Hide Profile

Furness earned his Harvard AM in 1928.

From the description of A study of the development of interest in folk ballads in the eighteenth century / Clifton Joseph Furness. January 1929. (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 77075837

Editor and scholar of Walt Whitman's life and writings.

From the description of Correspondence, 1940. (New York State Historical Documents). WorldCat record id: 155478873

Clifton Joseph Furness, was born in Sheridan, Indiana on April 30, 1898, the first son of T. Chalmers and Clara Spray Furnas. Originally named Furnas, he changed the spelling in 1917 to that of his English ancestors. He graduated from Mooresville High School in 1916 and Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1921. He studied piano under Nellie B. Shaffer of Indianapolis and gave his first recital at age 16. He developed as a lecture-recitalist and served on the Chautauqua and Lyceum programs. Most of his college expense was paid for by his musical efforts including teaching musical history and keyboard harmony at Northwestern from 1919-1921.

In 1922 Clifton went to Columbia University where he taught for five years in the Horace Mann School for Boys, an experimental and education unit of the Teachers' College. He taught English and founded the music department. In 1927 Clifton moved to Boston and received a Master's degree from Harvard in 1928. He then taught at Northeastern University, the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College in Vermont, Bradford Academy (1929-31), and in the Katharine Gibbs Schools in Boston and Providence (1929-1939). From 1929 to 1934 he assisted Prof. John L. Lowes of the English Dept. at Harvard for six years overseeing research work of graduate students. His areas of expertise ranged from English, modern literature, biography and musical appreciation.

In 1930 he joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music where he taught German literature, psychology, European history, English composition and composition, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. He became supervisor of academic studies and developed a program to help war veterans overcome battle shock. Clifton's writing interests developed early as editor of his high school paper and author of a musical column in the Mooresville Times. He later edited a column for the New England Conservatory News called "Books and All That." He published Genteel Female, an anthology and "polite inquiry into the tastes, manners, morals, recipes, cosmetics, dress, education and personal secrets of the American lady" in 1931.

Clifton Furness was regarded as an authoritiy on Walt Whitman. He published Walt Whitman's Workshop: A Collection of Unpublished Notebooks [Harvard University Press, 1928] and Walt Whitman's Estimate of Shakespeare [Harvard University Press, 1932]. He collaborated with Clara Barrus on Whitman and Burroughs, Comrades published in 1931 which details Whitman's friendship with the naturalist John Burroughs. He assembled a Bibliography of Walt Whitman which was accepted but not published by Houghton Mifflin Co. At the time of his death he had other works in progress including Whitman's biography and a book on Whitman's reception in New England preliminarily called The Bull in the China Shop. Furness' manuscripts and literary material were left in Furness' will to Moreton Graves Abbott who may have had a part in seeing their way to Professor Gay Wilson Allen of New York University. Prof. Allen used some of Furness's research to write his biography of Whitman, The Solitary Singer in 1955.

Clifton was very close with his father T. Chalmers Furnas. In the 1920s and early 1930s Clifton began writing a memoir and collecting his father's writings for publication to celebrate his father's upcoming 60th birthday in 1936. His father died in 1934 before it was completed. Traumatized by his father's death, he continued to expand on the memoir, In My Father's House but died on May 26, 1946 before he could finish it. It was later edited and arranged by Sparkle M. Furnas for inclusion in her Furnas Family Fragments.

From the description of Clifton Joseph Furness papers, 1855-1974 [bulk 1903-1955] (SUNY at Buffalo). WorldCat record id: 780689439

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Kirkpatrick, John, 1905-1991. The John Kirkpatrick papers, 1836-1993 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Furness, Clifton Joseph, 1898-1946. Clifton Joseph Furness papers, 1855-1974 [bulk 1903-1955] SUNY at Buffalo, University at Buffalo
referencedIn Walt Whitman Papers, 1837-1957, (bulk 1840-1891) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn The Henry Gilbert Papers, 1821-1980 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn The Charles Ives Papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Horace Traubel and Anne Montgomerie Traubel Papers, 1824-1979, (bulk 1883-1947) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Furness, Clifton Joseph, 1898-1946. A study of the development of interest in folk ballads in the eighteenth century / Clifton Joseph Furness. Harvard University, Archives
creatorOf Furness, Clifton Joseph, 1898-1946. Correspondence, 1940. New York State Historical Documents (Albany, N.Y.)
referencedIn Gay Wilson Allen Papers, 1801-1988 David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
referencedIn Traubel, Horace, 1858-1919. Horace Traubel and Anne Montgomerie Traubel papers, 1824-1979 (bulk 1883-1947). Library of Congress
referencedIn Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. The Charles Ives papers, 1874-1983 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn The John Kirkpatrick Papers, 1836-1993 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library
referencedIn Furnas, T. Chalmers, 1876-1934. T. Chalmers Furnas papers, 1894-1974 bulk [1894-1946] SUNY at Buffalo, University at Buffalo
referencedIn Johnny Green additional papers, 1923-1989. Harvard Theater Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Gay Wilson, 1903- person
associatedWith Barrus, Clara, 1864-1931 person
associatedWith Burroughs, John, 1837-1921 person
associatedWith Comfort, Will Levington, 1878-1932. person
associatedWith Fellows, Calista Hannah Furnas, 1868-1949. person
associatedWith Furnas family. family
associatedWith Furnas, Sparkle Moore, 1901-1996. person
associatedWith Furnas, T. Chalmers, 1876-1934. person
associatedWith Furness, T. Chalmers, 1876-1934. person
associatedWith Gilbert, Henry F. B. (Henry Franklin Belknap), 1868-1928 person
associatedWith Goodale, David Oscar, 1910-1983. person
associatedWith Green, Johnny, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith Harvard University corporateBody
associatedWith Ives, Charles, 1874-1954. person
associatedWith Kirkpatrick, John, 1905-1991. person
associatedWith State University of New York at Buffalo. University Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Steiner, Rudolf, 1861-1925. person
associatedWith Stuart, Carlos D., 1820-1862. person
correspondedWith Traubel, Anne Montgomerie, 1864-1954 person
correspondedWith Traubel, Horace, 1858-1919. person
associatedWith Whitman, Walt, 1819-1892. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Long Island (N.Y.)


Birth 1898

Death 1946




Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w63j432x

Ark ID: w63j432x

SNAC ID: 56392110