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The Jessamyn West Collection contains materials relating to author Jessamyn West (1902-1984). The collection includes West's manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, diaries, reviews, publications, and personal library.

Collection period: 1920-1990

Publication Date



Archival Science | Literature in English, North America


Mary Jessamyn West (1902-1984) was an American writer with Quaker roots. She was the cousin to the 37th President of the United States, Richard Milhouse Nixon. Jessamyn lived in Yorba Linda and attended Whittier College as a student and after graduation taught as an English professor. The collection holds her personal book collection including the authors mentioned in her stories and speeches. The collection also holds various photos, press releases, correspondence, novel drafts, and galley prints of her published works. English is the primary language of all texts; however, some of her novels have been published in languages around the world. The bulk of West’s manuscript series contains original handwritten drafts. The second step of editing can be observed in the various typed versions of novels, short stories, and speeches. Special care is taken to preserve the original newspaper or magazine clippings of published stories. The series of speeches are accompanied by individual work records to help identify common themes, date delivered, the purpose of the speech, geographic location of speech, and abstract denoting comparisons between speeches. There are two series within the speeches that need to be noted; “Getting Personal” and “Responsibility to Writers and Readers.” These two sets of speeches provide multiple examples of West’s writing style and process. There are four speeches on how and why to deliver speeches properly. This finding aid will be helpful to professors teaching English, speech, poetry, and literature from the Transcendentalist era. Students in these classes will be able to access primary sources illustrating the process for screenwriting, publishing novels, magazines, and delivering speeches.

Jessamyn West Collection