Skip to main content

Frederick J. Pohl (AC 1911) Papers

Identifier: MA.00343

Scope and Contents

Primarily letters, typescripts, scrapbooks, articles and clippings documenting Pohl’s writings and research on varied historical/biographical subjects, including a biographical study of William Shakespeare; theories on pre-Columbian exploration (especially in North America) involving Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci and Sir Henry Sinclair; and the competition between Frederick A. Cooke and Robert E. Peary to be first to reach the North Pole in 1911, about which Mr. Pohl left an unpublished manuscript. Correspondents include E. Merrill Root (Amherst College Class of 1917). The collection also includes an unpublished typescript autobiography and more than a dozen plays written by Pohl, some unpublished, including “Brittle Heaven,” his dramatic adaptation (with Vincent York) of his wife Josephine Pollitt’s 1930 biography of Emily Dickinson. A small amount of correspondence of Bruce A. Burton, Pohl’s associate and friend, with or about Pohl, is included as well. There is one box of miscellaneous travel ephemera (maps, brochures, schedules, etc.) from trips taken by Pohl and his wife after 1980.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1920-1991


Conditions Governing Access

There is no restriction on access to the Pohl Papers for research use. Particularly fragile items may be restricted for preservation purposes. This collection is stored off-site. Please contact the Archives in advance of your visit to arrange access.

Conditions Governing Use

Requests for permission to publish material from the Pohl Papers 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

Novelist, playwright, teacher and historian/archaeologist Frederick Julius Pohl was born in 1889 in Durham, N.Y. Although he was a teacher for much of his professional career, he is known as a writer of dramatic works, numerous historical studies on the Viking exploration of North America and two books on William Shakespeare. Pohl graduated from Amherst College in 1911 and earned a Master of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1914. He taught at Ohio Wesleyan University (1911-1914) and the State College of Delaware (1915-1917) before taking a position as a teacher at Boys High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he worked from 1917 to 1951. Pohl served in the U.S. Army during World War I, 1918-1919.

Pohl’s published plays include When Things Were New: 9 Plays (1920-1926) and Brittle Heaven (1935), which was based on ideas presented in his first wife’s biography of Emily Dickinson (Emily Dickinson: The Human Background to Her Poetry, 1930). Brittle Heaven was produced on Broadway. Among his works on ancient trans-Atlantic voyages of discovery were Amerigo Vespucci, Pilot Major (1944), The Lost Discovery (1952), The Vikings on Cape Cod (1957), Atlantic Crossings Before Columbus (1961), The Viking Explorers (1966), Prince Henry Sinclair, His Expedition to the New World in 1398 (1986) and The Viking Settlements of North America (1972). In his book The New Columbus (1986), Pohl asserted that Christopher Columbus was half-Jewish and was born in Spain. Pohl also wrote William Shakespeare: A Biography which was published in 1983.

In 1926 Pohl married Josephine Pollitt; after her death in 1978, he married Loretta Baker in 1980 and moved to Westfield, Mass. Pohl and his wives traveled extensively after he retired from teaching. Frederick J. Pohl died in Westfield, Mass. in 1991 at the age of 101.


5.5 Linear feet (5 records storage boxes; 1 archives box )

Language of Materials



Primarily letters, typescripts, scrapbooks, articles and clippings documenting Pohl’s writings and research on varied historical/biographical subjects, as well as correspondence and travel ephemera.


The papers are very loosely organized by subject and/or material type, beginning with typescripts and plays; then play productions; reviews and scrapbooks; correspondence; assorted objects and partly unidentified material; and finally travel ephemera.

Custodial History

The collection was received as gifts at various times from Loretta Baker-Pohl, Celeste Champagne and Bruce A. Burton.

Related Materials

  1. Amherst College Alumni Biographical Files: Class of 1911 – Pohl
  2. Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection: Pohl, Frederick J., and Josephine Pollitt correspondence (25 folders)
  3. Amherst College Scrapbooks Collection: Frederick Julius Pohl (volume 135)
  4. E. Merrill Root (AC 1917) Papers [unprocessed]
  5. Frederick J. Pohl Papers, 1944-1967 (0.5 linear ft.). Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Library
Peter A. Nelson, Assistant Archivist; Geoff Millener, AC 2011, Student Assistant
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository

Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000
(413) 542-2299