I Choose To Die


Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

The Brainard and Frances Cheney Papers, 1841-1989, include correspondence, manuscripts of writings, speeches, research materials, publication materials, publicity for books and play productions, reviews, legal and financial documents, family records, memorabilia, clippings and photographs, programs from cultural events, clippings on race relations, materials from Brainard Cheney’s career in politics, and manuscripts of writings by other authors. The last thirty-five boxes of the collection contain papers from Frances Neel Cheney’s career in Library Science including correspondence, writings, speeches, course materials from the Japan Library School and the Peabody Library School, publication materials, work with the Tennessee Library Association, a national survey on Public Library Reference Service for the American Library Association, bibliographies, and library related writings by others. The collection is extensive, with the bulk of the materials ranging from the 1940’s through the 1970’s. Major topics of interest include multiple versions of Brainard Cheney’s novels, the Pine Barrens and Rivers of Southeastern Georgia, materials relating to the Cheney’s friendships with many of the Fugitive/Agrarian writers, Brainard Cheney’s interest in Catholicism, Tennessee Politics in the late 1940’s and 1950’s, race relations and civil rights, Library Science and reference services.

Perhaps the greatest treasure of the collection is the correspondence, both the Cheney's and their respondents. Brainard Cheney was diligent in saving copies of letters he sent out. Highlights from the correspondence received include letters from Cleanth Brooks, Ashley Brown, Frank Clement, Donald Davidson, Caroline Gordon, Mildred Haun, Elia Kazan, Russell Kirk, Andrew Lytle, David McDowell, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, John Crowe Ransom, Monroe Spears, Tom Stewart, Allen Tate, Peter Taylor, Robert Penn Warren, and Eudora Welty. There is over six cubic feet of correspondence in this collection.

There is extensive material in the Writings series, approximately eight cubic feet. These materials include manuscripts copies of all of Brainard Cheney’s published work and much of his unpublished work, often there are several versions showing a progression of the writings. Genres represented are novels, plays, stories, reviews, articles and essays, memoirs, eulogies, speeches, and a movie script. There is a small amount of material by Frances Neel Cheney in this series. Closely related to the Writings series is the Publication materials series, which includes research, outlines, summaries, character sketches, chapter outlines and summaries, notes, photographs, and clippings for many of Brainard Cheney’s writings, and production materials for the works which were published. There is also a series of reviews written about many of both Brainard and Frances Neel Cheney’s published works.

The Personal and Biographical and the Events and Activities series are varied and contain information pertaining to the Cheney’s everyday lives. This includes curriculum vitas for both Brainard and Frances. There is material on Brainard Cheney’s family land in Georgia and a small group of papers belonging to his mother. There is a minor amount of memorabilia and photographs. The oldest material in the collection is represented in the Personal and Biographical series. The Events and Activities series mainly has material from projects in which Brainard Cheney was a involved, for example, the Tennessee Education and Dramatic Commission, the Sam Davis Outdoor Theatre, and Project R.A.F.T.

The Subject Files series contains programs and bulletins from events that the Cheney’s attended, clippings on subjects of interest and materials from Brainard Cheney’s political career. The Associates Series is limited to materials about several of the Cheney’s friends. The Writings by Other Authors series is interesting but not extensive. There are writings by Ashley Brown, Frank Clement, Antonio Gotto, John Lukacs, Edward McCrady, Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, and Allen Tate among others.


  • 1841 - 1989
  • Majority of material found within 1940s-1970s


From the Collection: 38.22 Linear Feet (91 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English


Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

Each finding aid contains a link to request materials from the collections. Collections can also be requested by emailing the repository directly through the library website. Each repository has its own location, hours, and contact information. Please consult the repository with questions about using the materials. Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the repository’s reading room. In many cases, the collections are stored off-site and require advance notice for retrieval.