Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material
Scope and Contents
The Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material consists of .7 linear feet of material related to American poets Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost. The collection includes correspondence, manuscript poems by Lindsay and Frost, programs and pamphlets produced by Lindsay, and press clippings and scholarly writings about the two poets.
The correspondence includes handwritten and typescript letters to and from Lawrence Conrad and Vachel Lindsay, as well as letters to and from Lawrence Conrad and Elizabeth Connor Lindsay. There is also a letter from Elinor Frost to Lawrence Conrad, as well as two telegrams from Robert Frost to Conrad. In addition, there are letters to and from Vachel Lindsay and other people, which he apparently forwarded to Conrad, and letters from Lindsay scholar John T. Flannagan to Conrad about Conrad's Lindsay collection.
The collection also includes manuscript and typescript poems by both Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost, including an apparently co-written poem entitled "The Maelstrom Flower Blooms," which was signed by both poets. Both that poem and another untitled manuscript poem by Lindsay include illustrations. In a June 20, 1928 letter to Conrad, Lindsay included a typed, signed copy of his poem "The Virginians are Coming Again." The collection also includes manuscript notes, including many edits, for Lindsay's poem "Horse and Buggy Doctor." Along with these notes are a handwritten note by Conrad, dated January 27, 1931 that this is the "utterly original working manuscript of the poem," which Lindsay brought to his house and which Conrad helped him to assemble. Among the Frost poems is a handwritten, signed copy of the last stanza of "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening."
Also included in the collection are programs for Lindsay readings, some signed by Lindsay, illustrated pamphlets by Lindsay, and news clippings and scholarly writings about both poets. Some of the news clippings about Lindsay were sent by him to Conrad and include notes in Lindsay's handwriting.
Among the Frost materials are two typescript copies of Frost's play A Way Out. Lawrence Conrad included a note with the typescripts that reads, "...The first production it ever had was by the Dodos in Ann Arbor. I produced it, and played the part of 'The Stranger.' Frost came and saw it. This fading manuscript was typed out for us by Elinor Frost, to enable us to have a workscript..."
The collection also includes portrait photographs of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost (the Lindsay photograph is signed), along with drawn portraits of the men and photographs of a bust of Lindsay.
The collection is divided into two series:
Series 1: Vachel Lindsay-Related Material [1922-1966 (bulk 1928-1934)]
Series 2: Robert Frost-Related Material [1918-1959 (bulk 1928-1934)]
- Creation: 1918-1966
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1928-1934
Conditions Governing Access
There is no restriction on access to the Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.
Biographical / Historical
Lawrence H. Conrad (1898-1982) received a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. While at the University, he met visiting fellows Robert Frost and Vachel Lindsay and helped with their local arrangements. He also acted in a play written by Frost, A Way Out. Later, Conrad served as president of the Michigan Author's Association and arranged readings for the poets. In 1924, Conrad published a novel entitled Temper. He taught Rhetoric at the University of Michigan from 1923 to 1928, then led the English Department at the John Burroughs School in St. Louis, MO, from 1928 to 1930. Conrad served as an English professor at the New Jersey State Teachers College in Montclair (later renamed Montclair State University) from 1930 to 1963, where he focused on American literature and creative writing. In 1967, he took a position at the University for San Diego, where he worked until 1970 in the Educational Development Center. Conrad published several nonfiction books including Descriptive and Narrative Writing (1927) and Teaching Creative Writing (1937). He had two sons, Lawrence, Jr. and David, with his wife Roberta. Roberta died in 1955, and in 1960, Conrad married Marjorie Matthews, with whom he lived until his death in 1982.
Robert Frost (1874-1963), the American poet, 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.
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.
(Nicholas) Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931) was born in Springfield, IL, in a house previously owned by Abraham Lincoln's sister-in-law and which the president had visited several times. He was exceptionally proud of this connection to Lincoln and wrote several poems about Lincoln. Lindsay attended Hiram College and later the Chicago Art Institute. When his attempts to find employment as a visual artist failed, Lindsay created illustrated pamphlets of his poetry and traveled around the Midwest, reciting his poems or trading his pamphlets in exchange for food and lodging. As his popularity grew, he took to performing his poetry, which he sang or chanted, in theaters or meeting halls. His two most well-known poems were "General William Booth Enters Heaven" and "The Congo," and he published several volumes of his poetry between 1913 and the 1920s. In 1915, he wrote a book entitled The Art of The Moving Picture, which has been called the first book of film criticism. Lindsay married Elizabeth Conner in 1925 and she gave birth to a daughter and a son within the next two years. He grew depressed as his popularity and ability to find work waned at the end of the 1920s, and on December 5, 1931 he killed himself by drinking a bottle of lye.
0.7 Linear feet (1 box, 2 oversize folders)
Language of Materials
The Lawrence H. Conrad Collection of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost Material consists of material related to American poets Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost which was collected by a mutual friend of theirs, writer and English professor Lawrence H. Conrad. The collection includes correspondence, manuscript and typescript poems by Lindsay and Frost, programs and pamphlets produced by Lindsay, and press clippings and scholarly writings about the two poets.
These materials were collected by Lawrence H. Conrad, a writer and English professor, who befriended Vachel Lindsay and Robert Frost while he was an undergraduate at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. At some point, Elizabeth Conner Lindsay returned a quantity of letters to him that Conrad had written to her and her late husband, along with a note that says she hopes the letters will help Conrad with his autobiography. The collection was donated to Amherst College by Conrad's granddaughter, Angela Conrad. Lawrence Conrad's letters from Frost were removed from the collection some years prior to the donation to Amherst College, and were sold to a private collector, David Lowenherz.
Some of these materials were received from the donor arranged in binders with each page individually encased in plastic. Because of this, it is unclear which poems were originally enclosed in which letters. Other than these binders, materials were previously stored in large folders or envelopes of Lindsay-related material and Frost-related material. Aside from keeping those materials as separate series, original order has not been maintained.
An unrelated pamphlet, "Testimony against Gertrude Stein," 1935 February, has been removed from this collection and cataloged separately.
- Aiken, Conrad, 1889-1973 (Recipient, Person)
- Frost, Robert, 1874-1963 (Writer of accompanying material, Person)
- Frost, Elinor, 1873-1938 (Writer of accompanying material, Person)
- Conrad, Lawrence H. (Lawrence Henry), 1898- (Writer of accompanying material, Person)
- Lindsay, Vachel, 1879-1931 (Writer of accompanying material, Person)
- Lindsay, Elizabeth Conner, 1901-1954 (Writer of accompanying material, Person)
- Conrad, Lawrence H. (Lawrence Henry), 1898- (Former owner, Person)
- Claire Lobdell, Merrill Project Archivist
- December 2013
- Language of description
- Script of description
- This work was funded by a grant from the Hellen Ingram Plummer Charitable Foundation, Inc.