MacLeish, Archibald, 1892-

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MacLeish (1892-1982) was a Pulitizer Prize winning American poet, playwright, teacher, librarian of Congress, and public official. He was also Boylston professor at Harvard.

From the guide to the Plays, 1957-1968., (Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

MacLeish (1892-1982) was a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, playwright, teacher, librarian of Congress, and public official. He was also Boylston professor of Rhetoric at Harvard (1949-1962).

From the guide to the Archibald MacLeish papers for, Scratch, :, 1971., (Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University)

A native of Illinois, Archibald MacLeish was the son of a merchant father and a mother who was a college professor. His mother's conviction to civic duties was a driving force behind Archibald developing a commitment to and taking action in various social and artistic endeavors. It was instilled in him that as a citizen he had a responsibility to contribute to the prosperity and freedom of others. MacLeish's early years were spent primarily on a large estate which encompassed nearly seventeen acres. Due to his rambunctious and at times rebellious nature as a youth, Mrs. MacLeish felt the rigorous and structured environment of private schools would be well suited for her son.

MacLeish's high school years were spent at Hotchkiss, after which he attended Yale as an English major. His leisure time was spent divided amongst several activities, including poetry, literature clubs and sports. After receiving his degree, his next destination was Harvard Law School in 1916, but his stay at the institution was halted by the service. A year after joining the program MacLeish departed for France during World War I. Tower of Ivory, MacLeish's first collection of poems, was published not long after his deployment into the service. Initially he was enlisted as a member of the Yale Mobile Hospital Unit, eventually switching to the artillery school. He became highly aversive and resentful of the war following the death of his brother, a fighter pilot, who was killed in the line of duty.

Upon returning to the States, MacLeish graduated from law school in 1919. He taught in the Harvard School of Government for a semester before joining a Boston law firm. He was a skilled lawyer, but eventually left the profession due to dissatisfaction with the minute amount of time the job left him to write poetry. Seven months after leaving his position at the firm, MacLeish joined a handful of accomplished writers and relocated to France.

While in Europe, MacLeish progressed as a writer focusing primarily on the long poem. In 1932, four years after returning to the United States, he was awarded with his first Pulitzer Prize for a poem titled Conquistador . The poem dealt with the poor treatment of the Aztecs by the Spanish Conquistadors, and suggested that this relationship was representative of the American experience. During the late thirties MacLeish was the object of criticism for his political views, criticism that was compounded with accusations that his writing was too uncertain and inconsistent. From work to work, MacLeish's views and opinions changed, and no consistent message or theme emerged. This may have been more acceptable had he not been such a staunch advocate for using art as a platform for social commentary. For example, MacLeish was an opponent of fascism and communism, while at the same time critical of American capitalism.

MacLeish went on to win two more Pulitzer prizes. One for a compilation of poetry called Collected Poems 1917-52 and the other, for a play based on the Biblical story of Job entitled J.B. He was elected by President Franklin Roosevelt to be the Librarian of the Congress. In 1949, MacLeish became a professor of rhetoric and oratory at Harvard, a position he held until his retirement in 1962. During this time MacLeish was still an active poet and writer. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 90.

From the guide to the Archibald MacLeish Papers MS 494., 1938-1982, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Widener Library manuscripts. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Miscellaneous theatrical papers, 1673-1976. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Library (University of Michigan) records, 1837-2005, 1920-2000 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Leon Trotsky letters to Cass Canfield and other papers, 1938-1950. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Alternative Perspectives on Vietnam records and sound recordings, 1965-1966 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn T. S. (Thomas Stearns) Eliot papers, 1878-1958. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Miscellaneous papers, 1922-1976. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Register to the Papers of Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya, 1890-1984, inclusive Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Correspondence, 1860-1979. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Archibald MacLeish papers for, Scratch, :, 1971. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Kennedy Convocation Collection, 1962-1988, 1962-1963 Amherst College Archives and Special Collections
referencedIn John Phillips Marquand correspondence, 1892-1960. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Frank Manny papers, 1890-1955 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Donald Hall papers, 1956-1965. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Oscar Williams papers concerning The war poets, 1944-1945. Houghton Library.
referencedIn George Sarton additional papers, 1901-1956. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Robert E. Sherwood papers, 1917-1968 (inclusive), 1934-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Alexander Woollcott correspondence, ca. 1856-1943 (inclusive), 1920-1943 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Ezra Pound Collection TXRC98-A12., 1905-1975, bulk 1930-1960 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Lucille Lortel papers, 1902-2000 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Frank Prentice Rand Papers FS 83., 1905-1976 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Amy Lowell correspondence, 1883-1927 (inclusive), 1910-1925 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Additional papers, 1917-1962 and undated. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1898-1957 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn E. E. Cummings papers, 1870-1969. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Plays, 1957-1968. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Enit Kaufman, American Portraits, Papers, TXRC99-A1., 1914-1958 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Victoria Ocampo papers, 1908-1979. Houghton Library.
referencedIn John Mason Brown papers, 1922-1967. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Archibald MacLeish Papers MS 494., 1938-1982 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Autograph File, M, 1648-1985. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1888-1964 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Selden Rodman papers, 1924-1972 University of Wyoming. American Heritage Center.
referencedIn Stephen Sandy letters from poets, 1954-1988. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1920-1995. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence, 1881-1981 (inclusive), 1940-1979 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, ca. 1933-1997. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Ellen Gates Starr Papers MS 151., 1659 - 1975, 1850-1970 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Jacques Barzun Papers, ca.1900-1999. Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn The Virgil Thomson Papers, 1804-1990 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Records, 1939-1992 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn R. Buckminster Fuller papers, ca. 1920-1983 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn James Agee Collection TXRC98-A10., 1928-1969 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Records, 1962. Houghton Library.
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1894-1960 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Alexander G. Ruthven Papers, 1901-1961, 1906-1951 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn John Reed papers, 1903-1967. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Mark Anthony De Wolfe Howe additional papers, 1880-1959. Houghton Library.
referencedIn William James Jr. papers, 1857-1960 (inclusive), 1911-1959 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Lewis Gannett papers, 1681-1966 (inclusive) 1900-1960 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Papers, 1872, 1932-1997 Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
referencedIn Scott Millross Buchanan papers, 1911-1972. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Robert Lowell papers, 1861-1976 (inclusive) 1935-1970 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Witter Bynner papers, 1829-1965. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room manuscript collection, 1896-1967. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Paul Blanshard Papers, 1912-1979 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Houghton Mifflin Company correspondence and records, 1832-1944. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine Events. Images, 1964-1966. Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine.
referencedIn Wyndham Lewis collection, 1877-1975 Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
referencedIn Ross Lee Finney collection : sound and video recordings, 1938-1986 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn E. E. Cummings additional papers, 1870-1969. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Stanley Burnshaw Papers TXRC93-A78., 1927-1987, (bulk 1945-1987) Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Agee, James, 1909-1955 person
associatedWith Alternative Perspectives on Vietnam (1965 : Ann Arbor, Mich.) corporateBody
associatedWith Amherst College corporateBody
correspondedWith Artists and Writers for Hughes. corporateBody
associatedWith Barzun, Jacques, 1907- person
associatedWith Blanshard, Paul, 1892- person
correspondedWith Brown, John Mason, 1900-1969 person
correspondedWith Buchanan, Scott Millross, 1895-1968 person
associatedWith Burnshaw, Stanley, 1906- person
correspondedWith Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968 person
associatedWith Chafee, Zechariah, 1885-1957 person
correspondedWith Cummings, E. E. (Edward Estlin), 1894-1962 person
correspondedWith Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 person
associatedWith Finney, Ross Lee, 1906-1997 person
associatedWith Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Center for the History of Medicine. corporateBody
associatedWith Fuller, R. Buckminster (Richard Buckminster), 1895-1983 person
correspondedWith Gannett, Lewis, 1891-1966 person
associatedWith Hall, Donald, 1928- person
associatedWith Helen Delano Willard person
associatedWith Helen D. Willard person
correspondedWith Hocking, William Ernest, 1873-1966 person
associatedWith Houghton, Mifflin Co. corporateBody
correspondedWith Houghton Mifflin Company. corporateBody
correspondedWith Howe, M. A. De Wolfe (Mark Antony De Wolfe), 1864-1960 person
associatedWith Hudson, Manley Ottmer, 1886- person
correspondedWith James, William, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith Jones, Howard Mumford, 1892- person
associatedWith Kaufman, Enit, 1908? -1961 person
associatedWith Lenya, Lotte person
correspondedWith Levin, Harry, 1912-1994 person
associatedWith Lewis, Wyndham, 1882-1957 person
associatedWith Lortel, Lucille person
correspondedWith Lowell, Amy, 1874-1925 person
correspondedWith Lowell, Robert, 1917-1977 person
associatedWith Manny, Frank Addison, 1868-1954 person
correspondedWith Marquand, John P. (John Phillips), 1893-1960 person
associatedWith MARY BANCROFT, 1903-1997 person
associatedWith Murdoch, Kenneth person
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
correspondedWith Ocampo, Victoria, 1891- person
associatedWith Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 person
associatedWith Pound, Roscoe, 1870-1964 person
associatedWith Rand, Frank Prentice, 1889-1971 person
correspondedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920 person
associatedWith Rodman, Selden, 1909-2002 person
associatedWith Ruthven, Alexander Grant, 1882- person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald person
correspondedWith Sandy, Stephen, recipient. person
correspondedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956 person
associatedWith Shahn, Ben person
correspondedWith Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955 person
correspondedWith Starr, Ellen Gates person
associatedWith The Window Shop, Inc., 1939-1987 corporateBody
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896- person
associatedWith Trotsky, Leon, 1879-1940 person
associatedWith University of Michigan. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Weill, Kurt, 1900-1950 person
correspondedWith Williams, Oscar, 1900-1964 person
associatedWith Woodberry, George Edward, 1855-1930 person
correspondedWith Woollcott, Alexander, 1887-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Conway (Mass.)
Subject
Poets, American
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1892

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