McQuown, Madeline, 1906-1975.

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McQuown, Madeline, 1906-1975.

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McQuown, Madeline, 1906-1975.


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Biographical History

Madeline Reeder Thurston McQuown

Madeline Reeder Thurston McQuown author and researcher was born in Ogden, Utah March 31, 1906 and passed away on May 29, 1975 in Ogden Utah. She grew up in Ogden, attended college at Weber State and the University of Utah and spent the majority of her 69 years in Utah. McQuown throughout her lifetime fostered a deep respect for the culture and the history of the West. Her contributions to the scholarly world came from writing, but most important was her research in western history and the advice that she gave noted historians throughout her career.

During the 1930s she worked with Dale Morgan on the Works Progress Administrations' Federal Writer's Project. She was responsible for finding many outstanding diaries and journals, especially in the area of Mormon history. An example of this was the diary of Hosea Stout. Some of this information she passed along to Bernard DeVoto who incorporated it into his section on Mormons in his book The Year of Decision: 1846 .

McQuown's correspondence with DeVoto shows her aspirations as a writer. She attended the Breadloaf Writer's Conference in 1933 with the invitation of DeVoto. Little of McQuown's written work has found its way into print, but this was not to be her most important work.

McQuown's major impact was in her research and through this research her contributions to noted historian. Her major work was a biography of Brigham Young which she never completed. However she sent DeVoto material quite frequently and was asked to comment on his work from time to time. This input was also given to other scholars such as Dale Morgan and Fawn Brodie.

Bernard DeVoto

Bernard DeVoto was born in Ogden, Utah January 11, 1897. He spent his youth in Ogden graduating from high school in 1913. DeVoto continued his education at the University of Utah and later transferred to Harvard where he graduated Phi Betta Kappa in 1920. From this point DeVoto entered the literary world becoming a noted novelist, historian, literary critic, and teacher.

After graduating from Harvard, DeVoto returned home to Ogden before leaving the West for good. In the middle 1920s DeVoto accepted a teaching position in the English Department at Northwestern. While at Northwestern DeVoto honed his teaching skills, but also began to publish essays in several of the nation's top journals. From this point DeVoto moved to Massachusetts and launched his career as a writer.

This collection of DeVoto letters begin once DeVoto had moved to Massachusetts and continue through 1948. This period, from 1933 through 1948 was a very productive period in DeVoto's life. From 1932 through 1936 he lived in Lincoln, Massachusetts. He began to write the "Easy Chair" column for Harper's Magazine, as well as edit the Saturday Review of Literature from 1936 through 1938. In 1938 DeVoto moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he lived for the remainder of his life. DeVoto passed away in 1955.

To do DeVoto justice in this short space is impossible. For a more thorough biographical account of DeVoto, Wallace Stegner's The Uneasy Chair is recommended.

From the guide to the McQuown - DeVoto papers, 1933-1948, (Utah State University. Special Collections and Archives)



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