Biographical Sketches and Writings about Davidson


Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

The Donald Davidson Papers (1906 - 1968) include correspondence and writings by Davidson as well as reviews, research materials, publications materials, publicity for books, legal and financial documents, family records, newspaper clippings and photographs, segregation materials, and manuscripts of writings by others. The bulk of the materials come from the 1920's through the 1960's.

Davidson received his B. A. and M. A. degrees from Vanderbilt University and remained at the University his entire professional career (1920 - 1968) teaching English. In addition to being a teacher Davidson was also a poet, novelist, and critic. From 1931-1967 he spent his summers teaching at Breadloaf School of English in Ripton, Vermont. He served in the military during World War I May 1917- June 1919. In June of 1918 he married Theresa Sherrer, a legal scholar and artist, and their only child Mary (later Mrs. Eric Bell, Jr.)was born March 26, 1919.

Davidson maintained extensive correspondence with many of his friends and associates who were also important literary figures of this time--John Gould Fletcher, Brainard and Frances Cheney, John Crowe Ransom, Laura Riding, Louis Rubin, Jesse Stuart, Allen Tate, John Donald Wade, Robert Penn Warren, Caroline Gordon/Tate, and Stark Young among others. These letters and others are important highlights of the Davidson Papers and comprise 5 1/3 cubic feet.

The Papers include much information that pertains to Vanderbilt, especially Davidson's role in The Fugitive and Agrarian groups which were centered at the university in the 1920's and 1930's. In the Series Fugitives and Agrarians there are letters and manuscript poems by John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, Robert Penn Warren,and other of the Fugitives and Agrarians. Appendix C is a listing of newspaper clippings relating to I'll Take My Stand (1930) and Who Owns America?(1936)

Davidson's Writings (5 1/3 cubic feet) are divided into several genres: poetry, reviews, articles, essays, lectures, text books, history books, plays, a short story and an operetta. His Editing Projects- The Tennessean Book Review and Literary Page and The Weekly Review-A Page About Books cover the period September 7, 1924 - October 26, 1930 and is 1 cubic foot. Of special interest in the Writings is a collection of over 150 of Davidson's poems typed or holograph (Complete listing Appendix A). Davidson's Literary Career is well documented in these papers. Appendix B is a listing of newspaper clippings about Davidson's work. There are also publicity materials and correspondence concerning his various literary projects.

In the Academic Career Series there are Davidson's notes for lectures at Vanderbilt as well as papers by some of his students including Randall Jarrell, Francis Robinson, and Mildred Haun. There are also committee reports and other administrative reports and a small section on Breadloaf School of English. In the Research Notes there are extensive notes for his two volume book The Tennessee and also notes on American Composition and Rhetoric. There are many miscellaneous notes.

Personal and Biographical Materials include Biographical Sketches and Writings about Davidson, Personal and Financial Records and Family Papers. Davidson's own detailed curriculum vita and also that of his wife Theresa Sherrer Davidson are in this series. In the series Organizations, Activities and Events there is 1 1/3 cubic feet of material which is concerned with Segregation and Civil Rights, including Reports of Citizens' Councils in the late 1950's and early 1960's.

The Subject Files contain information on the Tennessee Valley Authority, on George Pullen Jackson , Jesse Stuart, Agriculture, Southern Policy Papers and others. There are also book announcements (arranged by publisher or dealer) and Photographs of Writers (A complete list of these photographs found in Appendix D).

Finally in the Writings By Others there are publications and articles collected by Davidson-- book reviews , poems, and short stories by others, including poems by Cleanth Brooks, , e.e. cummings, Hart Crane,and George Marion O'Donnell.


  • 1906 - 1968


Conditions Governing Access

This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact


From the Collection: 27 Linear Feet (65 Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials

From the Collection: English

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States


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