Robert Frost Collection
Scope and Contents
Literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, ephemera, audio recordings and other materials related to Robert Frost's career as a poet and teacher. Many of Frost's letters in this collection were written to his colleagues, friends and students at the College. Correspondents include Joseph Blumenthal, G. R. Elliot, James Hayford, Otto Manthey-Zorn, Lawrance Thompson and George F. Whicher. Collection includes a large number of photocopies of original manuscripts and typescripts.
- Majority of material found within 1920-1963
- Frost, Robert, 1874-1963 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
There is no restriction on access to the Robert Frost Collection for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights represented in the collection. The estate of Robert Frost controls all publication of Frost's writings, photographs and appearances (in any media). Specific permission is required for publication in any format.
Biographical / Historical
Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874. His father, William Prescott Frost, a journalist, died of tuberculosis in 1885. At age eleven he moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts with his mother Isabelle Moody Frost and sister Jeanie. He graduated from Lawrence High School in 1892, sharing honors as class valedictorian with Elinor Miriam White, who later became his wife. Frost enrolled at Dartmouth College and later, in 1897, at Harvard, but never earned a formal academic degree. After dropping out of college, he was a teacher, cobbler, editor and farmer. Frost's first published poem, "My Butterfly: An Elegy," appeared on November 8, 1894, in the New York newspaper The Independent. He and Elinor White were married in 1895. Through the next dozen years six children were born, two of whom died prematurely, leaving a surviving family of one son and three daughters: Carol, Lesley, Irma, and Marjorie.
From 1900 to 1909 Frost raised poultry on a farm in Derry, New Hampshire, and taught at the local school, Pinkerton Academy. In August 1912, he sold the property (newly owned) and moved the family to England, determined to establish himself in poetry in a country he thought was more receptive to his work. In England, he met and was influenced by Ezra Pound, Robert Graves, Rupert Brooke and Edward Thomas. Pound, in particular, was a supporter of Frost's work. In England he published A Boy's Will (1913) and shortly after that North of Boston (1914), both of which then came out in American editions. When he sailed back to the United States with his family in 1915, Frost's literary reputation was established.
A lecture he gave at the College in 1916 marked the beginning of a long relationship with the Amherst. (For a chronology, see "Robert Frost and Amherst College," below.)
By the 1920s Frost had become one of America's most celebrated poets. Each new book of poems (Mountain Interval (1916), New Hampshire (1923), West-Running Brook (1928), A Further Range (1936), A Witness Tree (1942), Steeple Bush (1947), and In the Clearing (1962)) met with unprecedented commercial sales and critical praise, including four Pulitzer Prizes. Frost resided in a succession of farms and houses in New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts (including Amherst). He frequently toured throughout the U.S. and in many foreign countries to do readings and to take up poet-in-residence appointments at a number of colleges and universities. His reading of the poem "The Gift Outright" at the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy in 1961 was a memorable occasion.
Robert Frost died in Boston on January 29, 1963.
For a detailed chronology of Robert Frost's life, see Collected Poems, Prose and Plays by Robert Frost (N.Y.: Library of America, 1995).
Robert Frost and Amherst College
- First college readings: lectured at Amherst College April 8.
- Professor of English
- Taught Advanced Composition
- Taught American Authors
- Taught American Literature-19th Century Poets; Advanced Composition
- Awarded honorary M.A. by Amherst, May 2. This was the first honorary degree awarded Frost by any college or university.
- Professor of English.
- Taught Readings in English Literature
- Taught Readings in Poetry, Drama, Essay and Short Story; Advanced Writing
- John Woodruff Simpson Lecturer (in residence for two weeks in January)
- Professor of English on the John Woodruff Simpson Foundation endowment.
- Held informal classes and readings and worked individually with students and teachers.
- "Education by Poetry" published in Amherst Graduates Quarterly.
- Memorial service held in Johnson Chapel on April 22 for Elinor Frost, who had died in Florida on March 20.
- Awarded honorary Litt.D. by Amherst on June 20.
- "Speaking of Loyalty" published in Amherst Graduates Quarterly.
- Simpson Lecturer in Literature. Spent several weeks in Amherst each fall and spring, meeting with students and faculty and holding public readings.
- 80th birthday celebration at Amherst College, March 26.
- September: Amherst announces its new library to be named for Frost, who is present at the announcement.
- Frost's last public appearance at Amherst (Parent's Day readings), October 20.
- Robert Frost dies in Cambridge, Massachusetts, January 29.
- Convocation for President John F. Kennedy and groundbreaking for the Robert Frost Library, October 26.
- Dedication of the Robert Frost Library, October 24.
26.25 Linear feet (6 records storage boxes, 30 archives boxes, 5 half archives boxes, 5 oversize boxes, 6 mapcase drawers)
Language of Materials
Literary manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, ephemera, audio recordings and other materials related to Robert Frost's career as a poet and teacher. Correspondents include Joseph Blumenthal, G. R. Elliot, James Hayford, Otto Manthey-Zorn, Lawrance Thompson and George F. Whicher.
The collection is organized into ten series:
- Series 1: Manuscripts, 1901-present
- Series 2: Printed Material, 1892-present
- Series 3: Audio-Visual Material, 1941-present
- Series 4: Awards and Honors, circa 1918-1974
- Series 5: Medals, 1930-1974
- Series 6: Objects, 1920s-1999
- Series 7: Photographs, 1887-2007
- Series 8: Images, 1923-2007
- Series 9: Robert Frost-related Collections and Organizations, 1945-present
- Series 10: Photocopies and Transcriptions
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
The major portion of the Robert Frost Collection was the gift of Jack W. C. Hagstrom, Class of 1955, who has continued to add to the collection. The medals in Series 5 were the gift of Frost's great-grandson, Robert L. Frost II. Additional materials were given by alumni and friends to the College. Some material was also purchased.
Note that many printed items, especially Christmas poems, that were previously included in the Frost manuscript collection have been removed and are now cataloged separately. To locate these items, search the Five College online library catalog for call number: RFB [date of card].
The following abbreviations are used in this finding aid: TS = typescript; l. = leaf; MS = manuscript; s. = sheet; p. = page; env. = envelope
- Under Revision
- Floyd Merritt
- Language of description
- Script of description