Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974

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Poet and suffragist Sara Bard Field lived in Portland in the early part of the twentieth century. Her poetry, her support of women’s suffrage, and her controversial relationship with Charles Erskine Scott Wood, a Portland cultural icon, made an indelible imprint on the history of Oregon. Field was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on September 1, 1882, to strict Baptist parents. The family moved to Detroit, where, at the age of eighteen, she married the much older Baptist minister Albert Erghott. The couple went to Burma as missionaries, an experience that awakened Field’s sense of social justice. Upon their return to the United States, Erghott, a Baptist of Social Christian leanings, took a position with a poor parish in Cleveland, Ohio. Field worked in support of Cleveland’s progressive mayor, Tom Johnson, and her sister Mary, a socialist and supporter of Johnson’s, introduced her to Clarence Darrow and to the ideas of Henry George. During these years, she gave birth to two children, Albert (1901) and Katherine (1906). Erghott was assigned a parish in Portland in 1910, and over the next ten years, Field involved herself in the suffrage movement. She also met C.E.S. Wood (introduced by Darrow) and they fell in love. Their love affair shocked many Portlanders, but Field was undeterred by conventional moralities. In 1913, she moved to Nevada and secured a divorce, becoming a pioneer in the developing phenomenon of migratory divorce. She also continued to fight for suffrage, and in 1915 she made a 5,000-mile transcontinental automobile journey to carry a petition to President Woodrow Wilson. In 1918, Field and Wood left Portland, settling first in San Francisco and then in Los Gatos, California. Tragedy struck when Field’s son was killed in a car accident. On a hillside above Los Gatos, Field and Wood built a small villa they called “The Cats,” designed by Walter Steilberg. There they wrote, entertained, and lived a life of “gilded bohemianism.” They counted among their friends Robinson Jeffers, Ansel Adams, John Steinbeck, Langston Hughes, and Lincoln Steffens. Field was close with Jeffer's wife Una. Field wrote a number of books during the 1920s and 1930s, some of them with major publishing houses and others privately printed with noted fine press printers—the Grabhorn brothers, in particular. Her publications include Barabbas: A Dramatic Narrative, which the Book Club of California judged to be the best book written in 1932 by a Californian, and Darkling Plain, a collection of lyrics published by Random House in 1936. Prompted by Wood’s failing health and the death of Wood’s first wife, Field and Wood married in 1938. After Wood died in 1944, Field edited his collected poems, which Vanguard Press published in 1949. In 1955, she sold “The Cats” and moved to Berkeley, where she died in 1974. To some, Sara Bard Field is remembered as a provocative woman, but her significance is best exemplified in her support for women’s rights, social justice, literature, the aesthetic life, and the man she loved
Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Vanguard Press. Vanguard Press Records, ca. 1925-ca. 1985. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Ernst Bacon Collection, 1907-1990, (bulk 1930-1980) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Witter Bynner papers, 1829-1965. Houghton Library
referencedIn Charles Erskine Scott Wood and Erskine Wood Family Papers, 1867-1982 Lew s & Clark College Special Collections and Archives
referencedIn Parton, Margaret, 1915-1981. Margaret Parton papers, 1885-1981. University of Oregon Libraries
referencedIn Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. Muriel Rukeyser papers, 1844-1986 (bulk 1930-1979). Library of Congress
referencedIn Vanguard Press Records, ca.1925-ca.1985 Columbia University. Rare Book an Manuscript Library
creatorOf McEnerney, Genevieve Green Hamilton. Genevieve Green Hamilton McEnerney papers. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn John Reed papers, 1903-1967. Houghton Library
creatorOf Digby, George Wingfield, 1911-1989. Letter, 1960 Jan. 5, London, to [Sara Bard Field] Wood, Los Gatos, Calif. University of Michigan
referencedIn Alice Corbin Henderson Collection TXRC92-A24., 1861-1987 Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn Eastman, Max Forrester, 1883-1969. Eastman mss. 1892-1968 Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Papers of C. E. S. Wood, 1829-1980 (bulk 1870-1940). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Ricketts, Edward Flanders, 1897-1948. Edward Flanders Ricketts papers, 1936-1979 (inclusive), 1936-1947 (bulk). Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Letter 1927, August 2, New York City [to] Mr. [Edwin] Markham, [Staten Island] / Charles Erskine Scott Wood. Wagner College, Horrmann Library
creatorOf Wells, Evelyn. Evelyn Wells papers, [ca. 1935-1963]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Benjamin H. Lehman Papers Bancroft Library
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. Letters to Margaret and Roy Sowers, 1952-1955. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Charles E.S. Wood papers, 1884-1920. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Bacon, Ernst. Papers, 1926-1990 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Lyman, William Whittingham, 1885-. William Whittingham Lyman memoirs : typescript, [ca. 1969-]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Charles Erskine Scott Wood papers, 1914-1942. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Mabel Vernon papers, 1914-1920. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Suffragists Oral History Collection MS 421., 1959-1977 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. Sara Bard Field letters to Amy Requa Long, 1929-1935 and undated. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Bogan, Louise, 1897-1970. Papers, 1930-1990 (inclusive), 1930-1970 (bulk). Amherst College
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. Correspondence with Theodore Dreiser, 1917. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Muriel Rukeyser Papers, 1844-1986, (bulk 1930-1979) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn William James Jr. papers, 1857-1960 (inclusive), 1911-1959 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn C. E. S. Wood collection, 1852-1944 Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office. Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office oral history interviews, 1959-1979 (bulk 1969-1975). Library of Congress
referencedIn Catalogue I of the Regional Oral History Office, 1954-1979 Bancroft Library
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974.Poet and suffragist. Photographs of Sara Bard Field [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. C. E. S. Wood collection [manuscript], 1852-1944. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Martin, Anne, 1875-1951. Anne Martin campaign literature, 1914-1918. University of Nevada, Reno, Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
creatorOf Haas, Elise S., 1893-1990. Elise Stern Haas correspondence, circa 1951-1966. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Parton, Mary Field. Mary Field Parton - Clarence Darrow papers, 1909-1975. Newberry Library
creatorOf Taggard, Genevieve, 1894-1948. Genevieve Taggard papers, 1881-2001 (bulk 1920-1948). New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers, 1847-1968 (bulk: 1909-1929) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Margaret Parton papers, 1885-1981 University of Oregon Libraries. Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Papers of C. E. S. Wood (Addenda), 1897-1970 (bulk 1912-1940). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Johnck, John J. (John Julius). Note to David Anderson : ANS, [ca. 1935 Dec. 25]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Pease, Lute, 1869-1963. Papers of Lute Pease, 1856-1965 (bulk 1865-1939). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. [Six letters to friends] [manuscript] / [Sara Bard Field], 1937-1954. San Diego State University Library, SDSU Library and Information Access
referencedIn Ernst Bacon Papers, 1933-1986 Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. Papers, 1847-1968 (inclusive), 1909-1929 (bulk). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Martin, Anne, 1875-1951. Portraits of women suffragists from the Anne Henrietta Martin papers [graphic]. Bancroft Library
creatorOf Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1863-1970. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Edward Flanders Ricketts Papers, 1936-1979 (inclusive), 1936-1947 (bulk) Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Henderson, Alice Corbin, 1881-1949. Papers, 1861-1987 (bulk 1920-1949). Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. Sara Bard Field papers, 1927-1956. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Donald and Katharine Foley Collection of Penguin Books, 1935-1965 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Muriel Rukeyser collection of papers, 1920-1976, 1931-1976 The New York Public Library. Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature.
referencedIn Wright, Cedric, 1889-1959. Letters to Ernst Bacon, 1928-1959. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office Oral History Interviews, 1959-1979, (bulk 1969-1975) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962. Papers of William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite [manuscript] 1904-1935 (1958). University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Letter, 1927 Feb. 9, Washington [D.C.] to George [Schumm, New York] University of Michigan
referencedIn Papers of Doris Stevens, 1884-1983 (inclusive), 1920-1960 (bulk) Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn Suffragists Oral History Project (Bancroft Library). Transcripts of oral history project, 1959-1974 (inclusive). Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Welch, Marie de L. (Marie de Laveaga), 1905-1974. Marie de Laveaga Welch papers, circa 1917-1974. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Dassonville, William, E., 1879-1957. Portrait and landscape photographs [graphic] / William Dassonville. California Historical Society
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. Correspondence to Van Wyck Brooks, 1945-1946. University of Pennsylvania Library
referencedIn Genevieve Taggard papers, 1881-2001, 1920-1948 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn J. B. Matthews Papers, 1862-1986 and undated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
creatorOf Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974. [William Allen White portrait] [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. Lawrence and Barbara Fleischman papers, 1863-1970. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. Ernst Bacon papers, 1926-1990. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Lehman, B. H. (Benjamin Harrison), 1889-1977. Benjamin H. Lehman papers, 1908-1978. UC Berkeley Libraries
creatorOf Flanner, Hildegarde, 1899-1987. Hildegarde Flanner papers, 1924-1984. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Mabel Vernon papers, 1914-1920 Bancroft Library
referencedIn Field, Sara Bard, 1882-1974.Poet and suffragist. Photographs of Sara Bard Field [graphic]. UC Berkeley Libraries
referencedIn Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. Letter, 1922 Jun. 18, Los Gatos, Calif., to George Schumm, New York. University of Michigan
referencedIn Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley. Letters, to Agnes Inglis, 1929-1950. University of Michigan
referencedIn Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962. Papers, 1897-1930 Houghton Library
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn California SP Steinbeck, John, House National Archives at College Park
Relation Name
associatedWith Bacon, Ernst, 1898- person
associatedWith Bacon, Ernst, 1898-1990. person
associatedWith Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office. corporateBody
associatedWith Bogan, Louise, 1897-1970. person
correspondedWith Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962 person
associatedWith Braithwaite, William Stanley, 1878-1962. person
correspondedWith Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968 person
correspondedWith Copeland, Arthur B., Mrs. person
associatedWith Dassonville, William, E., 1879-1957. person
associatedWith Digby, George Wingfield, 1911-1989. person
correspondedWith Doris Stevens person
associatedWith Eastman, Max, 1883-1969 person
associatedWith Flanner, Hildegarde, 1899-1987. person
associatedWith Fleischman, Lawrence A. (Lawrence Arthur), 1925-1997. person
associatedWith Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley. person
associatedWith Foley, Donald L. person
associatedWith Foley, Katharine person
associatedWith Foley, Margaret, 1875-1957. person
associatedWith Haas, Elise S., 1893-1990. person
associatedWith Henderson, Alice Corbin, 1881-1949 person
correspondedWith James, William, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith Johnck, John J. (John Julius) person
associatedWith Lehman, B. H. (Benjamin Harrison), 1889-1977. person
associatedWith Long, Amy Requa, person
associatedWith Lyman, William Whittingham, 1885- person
associatedWith Martin, Anne, 1875-1951. person
associatedWith Matthews, J. B. (Joseph Brown), 1894-1966 person
associatedWith McEnerney, Genevieve Green Hamilton. person
associatedWith Meiklejohn, Alexander, 1872-1964. person
associatedWith Meiklejohn, Helen Everett. person
correspondedWith Morris, Isabel person
associatedWith Parton, Margaret, 1915-1981. person
associatedWith Parton, Mary Field. person
associatedWith Pease, Lute, 1869-1963. person
correspondedWith Reed, John, 1887-1920 person
associatedWith Ricketts, Edward Flanders, 1897-1948. person
correspondedWith Rukeyser, Muriel, 1913-1980. person
associatedWith Sowers, Margaret. person
associatedWith Sowers, Roy Vernon, 1897- person
associatedWith Suffragists Oral History Project (Bancroft Library). corporateBody
associatedWith Taggard, Genevieve, 1894-1948. person
associatedWith Vanguard Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Vernon, Mabel. person
associatedWith Welch, Marie de L. (Marie de Laveaga), 1905-1974. person
associatedWith Wells, Evelyn. person
correspondedWith Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944 person
associatedWith Wood, Charles Erskine Scott, 1852-1944. person
associatedWith Wright, Cedric, 1889-1959. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Women poets
Suffragists
Ẁomen authors, American--Correspondence
Christmas cards--Specimens
Poets, American--20th century
Occupation
Activity

Person

Birth 1882-09-01

Death 1974-06-15

Information

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Ark ID: w64569wf

SNAC ID: 84475114