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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 1947-1947.2

Robert E. Sherwood papers


Letters, compositions, and other papers of the American writer Robert E. Sherwood.


  • 1917-1968
  • Majority of material found within 1934-1955

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

A small portion of this collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


27 linear feet (79 boxes and 1 oversize volume )

The largest series in the collection is compositions by Sherwood. This consists of manuscripts in various drafts with revisions and notes of his plays; papers depicting the writing of Roosevelt and Hopkins from research notes and synopses of interviews he conducted to the various drafts of the book from the first version to galley proofs; manuscripts of his articles, short stories, and book reviews; speeches by Sherwood; speeches he wrote for others, especially Franklin D. Roosevelt; and contracts, awards, receipts, and scrapbooks of clippings related to his career. The correspondence falls chronologically and topically into three categories. The smallest category, letters from the 1930s, documents his play writing and work in Hollywood including discussion of casting and rewriting plays and the relationship between movies and the theater and between entertainment and partisan politics. The bulk of the correspondence, letters from the 1940s, pertains to America's conduct of the war and reflects Sherwood's own career in Washington and London as an American propagandist and speech writer and his efforts to research and write a book on the war. Other correspondence, from the late 1940s until his death, is from Sherwood's wide circle, both national and international, of friends and political colleagues in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Also contains a few manuscripts by others and condolence letters to his wife upon his death.

Biographical / Historical

Sherwood was an American dramatist and political writer. Between 1940 and 1945 he was the principal speech writer for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and overseas director of the Office of War Information. Sherwood, who had won three Pulitzer prizes for his plays, won a fourth for Roosevelt and Hopkins, his book chronicling World War II.


Organized into the following series:

  1. bMS Am 1947: Robert E. Sherwood Papers
  2. I. Correspondence
  3. A. Letters to Sherwood
  4. B. Letters from Sherwood
  5. C. Other letters
  6. II. Compositions
  7. A. Plays
  8. B. Roosevelt and Hopkins
  9. i. Research notes
  10. ii. Synopses of interviews with various persons
  11. iii. Outlines, introduction, table of contents, etc.
  12. iv. First version
  13. v. Second version
  14. vi. Mimeographed version
  15. vii. Footnotes, corrections, galley proofs, etc.
  16. C. Articles, short stories, book reviews, etc.
  17. D. Speeches
  18. E. Speeches written for others
  19. i. Speeches for Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  20. ii. Speeches for Adlai Ewing Stevenson
  21. iii. Speeches for others
  22. F. Contracts, receipts, awards, and scrapbooks
  23. III. Compositions by others
  24. bMS Am 1947.1: Letters to Madeline Sherwood

Please note that item numbers 561-566 and 893-897 were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid.

Physical Location

b, pf, Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

76M-78. Gift of Madeline Sherwood; received: 1976.

2015M-109. Gift of Harriet Alonso; received: 2016 February 16.

Related Materials

Additional Sherwood papers, concerning Robert Emmet Sherwood's service under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, are housed at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y.

Sherwood, Robert E. (Robert Emmet), 1896-1955. Robert E. Sherwood papers, 1917-1968: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

Houghton Library is Harvard College's principal repository for rare books and manuscripts, archives, and more. Houghton Library's collections represent the scope of human experience from ancient Egypt to twenty-first century Cambridge. With strengths primarily in North American and European history, literature, and culture, collections range in media from printed books and handwritten manuscripts to maps, drawings and paintings, prints, posters, photographs, film and audio recordings, and digital media, as well as costumes, theater props, and a wide range of other objects. Houghton Library has historically focused on collecting the written record of European and Eurocentric North American culture, yet it holds a large and diverse number of primary sources valuable for research on the languages, culture and history of indigenous peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

Houghton Library’s Reading Room is free and open to all who wish to use the library’s collections.

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