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Joel Chandler Harris papers

Identifier: Manuscript Collection No. 5

Scope and Content Note

The Joel Chandler Harris collection contains correspondence to and from Harris, writings by and about the author, family photographs, illustrations of his stories and books, papers of and relating to his family and associates, as well as materials about the Wren's Nest and Eatonton, and miscellaneous material relating to Harris and his works. The bulk of the papers date from 1880, around the time of the publication of Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings, to 1908, when Harris died. The oldest items in the collection are notebooks and essays Harris composed while a student at Eatonton Male Academy from 1858-1862. The most recent items are newspaper clippings about Harris and Wren's Nest written in the 1970s.

The first three series (correspondence, writings, photographs and illustrations) contain almost all of the papers that were created or owned by Harris. The most significant original manuscript materials not found in these first three series are the materials collected by Julia Collier Harris and Frank L. Stanton's unfinished and unpublished "Story of Uncle Remus," both in Series 4. Papers in Series 4 and 5 (printed materials about Harris and miscellany) have generally been collected since Harris's death and are about Harris, his writings, his home, and his family.

Series 1, Correspondence and related papers, contains letters written by Harris, his wife, children, publishers, illustrators, fellow writers, prominent persons of the day, and the general public who enjoyed Harris's writings or who had heard similar animal tales in their childhood. Harris's letters to his children are particularly extensive. Topics include family life, discussions of the publishing business, and national affairs at the turn of the century. Publishing contracts and papers of family members are also included. Correspondents include Samuel Langhorne Clemens, James Whitcomb Riley, Theodore Roosevelt, Walter Hines Page, Corra Harris, Andrew Carnegie, George Washington Cable, Arthur Burdett Frost, William A. Fuller, Hamlin Garland, Will N. Harben, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas E. Watson, and Charles Scribner. The illustrations date mostly from Harris's lifetime and many were used to illustrate his books and stories.

Series 2 of the papers contains many samples of Harris's writings. Original manuscript drafts of novels and Uncle Remus stories, copies of essays, articles and poems, clippings of newspaper columns, and a draft of an unfinished play comprise the second series. These drafts reveal Harris's habit of occasionally revising stories numerous times before submitting drafts to editors.

Photographs, (Series 3), printed materials (Series 4), and miscellany (Series 5), complete the Harris collection. Family snapshots and portrait photographs depict Harris and the Harris family from the 1860s to the 1960s. Periodical articles, clippings, book reviews, adaptations of Harris's works, Wren's Nest and Song of the South materials, advertisements, greeting cards and stamps bearing the image of Uncle Remus creatures or Joel Chandler Harris, give an indication of the public's acceptance of Harris's writings and his lasting contribution to this genre of American literature.


  • 1848-1908

Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Due to the fragile nature of the originals, researchers are required to use the microfilm copy where applicable.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Special restrictions apply: Reproduction (including photocopies) of drawings by Barry Moser prohibited with out permission of artist.

Biographical Note

Joel Chandler Harris (December 9, 1848 - July 3, 1908), journalist and author of the Uncle Remus tales, was born in Eatonton, Putnam County, Georgia, the son of Mary Harris, a seamstress. From 1856-1862, he attended Eatonton schools, primarily the Eatonton Male Academy. In March 1862, he answered an ad for a printer's devil at The Countryman, a weekly newspaper published at the nearby Turnwold Plantation by Joseph Addison Turner. There Harris learned the newspaper trade and began composing poems, paragraphs, and short stories, several of which appeared in The Countryman. Turner encouraged and critiqued young Harris's writings and introduced him to the classics of literature.

In 1866, after The Countryman folded, Harris became a typesetter for the Macon Telegraph. Five to six months later, he traveled to Louisiana to work as a private secretary for William Evelyn, editor and publisher of the New Orleans Crescent Monthly, a magazine devoted to "Literature, Art, Science, and Society." He remained in New Orleans for six to eight months, the longest period of time Harris would ever spend outside of his native state. Returning to Georgia in 1867, he became printer and editor of the Monroe Advertiser of Forsyth, and in 1870, he joined the staff of the Savannah Morning News as associate editor. At all of these newspapers except the Crescent Monthly, Harris contributed poems, paragraphs, editorials and news reports for publication.

While in Savannah, Harris met Esther LaRose of Upton, Canada, who was spending the summer of 1872 with her parents in the Georgia city. They were married the following April. The Harrises had nine children, six of whom lived to adulthood. They were Julian Harris (1874-1963), Lucien Harris (1875-1960), Evan Howell Harris (1876-1878), Evelyn Harris (1878-1961), Mary Esther "Rosebud" Harris (1879-1882), Lillian Harris (1882-1956), Linton Harris (1883-1890), Mildred Harris (1885-1966), and Joel Chandler Harris, Jr. (1888-1964). Esther LaRose Harris survived her husband by thirty years, dying in 1938.

In 1876, a yellow fever epidemic in coastal Georgia drove Harris, his wife, and two young sons inland to Atlanta. When offered a position as associate editor of the Atlanta Constitution, Harris and his family decided to settle permanently in Atlanta. He joined editor Henry Grady in propounding the virtues of a "New South" and began writing Uncle Remus sketches. In December of 1880, Uncle Remus: His Songs and His Sayings was published, winning its author instant critical and popular acclaim. Harris became widely known for his rendering of Negro dialect and for his retelling of plantation stories he had heard as a boy in Eatonton and Turnwold.

The year after Uncle Remus appeared, a more financially secure Harris moved his growing family to West End, then just outside of Atlanta. The property was first called "Snap Bean Farm," and later "The Wren's Nest." From 1883-1907, in addition to his duties with the Atlanta Constitution, Harris published twenty-three collections of Uncle Remus stories, novels, and a history textbook/storybook for Georgia students. He retired from the newspaper in 1900 to devote full-time to his writing. In 1902, Emory College, then located at Oxford, Georgia awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Literature. Three years later, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Finally, in 1907-1908, Harris served in his last editorial post, editing the New Uncle Remus Magazine (shortly after his death, the name was changed to Uncle Remus Home Magazine). He wrote numerous articles and editorials for the monthly periodical. Harris died in July 1908, leaving behind a large collection of Negro folk tales and writings on Southern lifestyles and values before, during and after the Civil War.

Biographical Source:Julia Collier Harris, The Life and Letters of Joel Chandler Harris (1918), Paul M. Cousins, Joel Chandler Harris: A Biography (1968), and R. Bruce Bickley, Joel Chandler Harris (1978).


35.125 linear feet (44 boxes) (20 oversized papers boxes and 7 oversized papers folders (OP); 2 bound volumes (BV); 6 framed items (FR); AV Masters: .25 linear feet (CLP); 25 microfilm reels (MF))


Personal and literary papers of American author Joel Chandler Harris including correspondence, writings, photographs, printed materials about Harris, and other papers.

Arrangement Note

Organized into six series: (1) Correspondence and related papers, (2) Writings, (3) Photographs, (4) Printed materials about Harris, (5) Other papers, and (6) Additions.

Finding Aid Note

Index to selected correspondents in Series 1 (Subseries 1.2-1.3), Series 4, and Series 5 is available.


Donated and purchased from various sources.

Additional Physical Form

Majority of collection also available on microfilm.

Related Materials in Other Repositories

Academy of Arts and Letters (New York), Columbia University, Duke University, Huntington Library , New York Public Library, Princeton University, University of California (Berkeley), University of Virginia; Yale University.

Related Materials in This Repository

Julian LaRose Harris papers

In Emory's holdings are books formerly owned by Joel Chandler Harris. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Joel Chandler Harris 1848-1908, former owner.


Processed by EKL, 1982.

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Index of Selected Correspondents

Correspondence with illustrators, publishers, literary figures, politicians and other prominent persons (Series 1, 4, and 5) is indexed here. Names of publishing companies represented in the correspondence series have also been indexed. Index is to series number, subseries number, shortened folder titles, inclusive dates and number of items. For example, notation "Subseries 1.2: Frost, 1884-1890 (3)" refers to Subseries 1.2, Frost folder(s), with three items dating from 1884-1890.
This is not a complete index to all correspondents. Materials other than correspondence (e.g. illustrations, contracts) that relate to particular individuals are not indexed. JCH is used to abbreviate Joel Chandler Harris's name.
Alden, Henry Mills, 1836-1919
The American Monthly Review of Reviews
D. Appleton and Company
Appleton, William Werthen, 1845-1924
The Atlantic Monthly
The Baker and Taylor Company
Baker, Ray Stannard, 1870-1946
Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914?
Brooks, Eldridge Streeter, 1846-1902
Brown and Derby Publishers
Brown, Robert Adger
Bryan, Ella Howard
Bulingame, Edward Livermore, 1848-1922
Cable, George Washington, 1844-1925
Carnegie, Andrew, 1835-1919
Century Magazine (Century Company)
The Children's World
Church, Frederick Stuart, 1842-1924
Clark, Charles Heber, 1847-1915
Clemens, Samuel Langhorne
Collier's Weekly
The Cosmopolitan Magazine
The Critic
The Current
Dana, Charles Anderson, 1819-1897
Dangerfield, Clinton (Ella Howard Bryan)
Davidson, James Wood, 1829-1905
Derby, James Cephas, 1818-1892
D. Lothrop and Company
Douglas, David
Doubleday and McClure Company
Doubleday, Frank Nelson, 1862-1934
Doubleday, Page and Company
Drake, Alexander, 1843-1916
Edwards, Harry Stillwell, 1855-1938
Emory Army Unit
The ERA (Henry T. Coates and Company)
Finley, John Huston, 1863-1940
Frederick A. Stokes Company
Frost, Arthur Burdett, 1851-1928
Fuller, William A.
Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940
Gilder, Jeannette Leonard, 1849-1916
Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909
Gompers, Samuel, 1850-1924
Halsey, Francis Whiting, 1851-1919
Harben, William Nathaniel, 1858-1919
Harper and Brothers
Harris, Corra May (White), 1869-1935
Harris, Joel Chandler, 1848-1908
Harrison, Charles Curtis, 1844-1929
Hawthorne, Julian, 1846-1934
Hay, John, 1838-1905
Hayne, Paul Hamilton, 1830-1886
Hitchcock, James Ripley Wellman, 1857-1918
Houghton, Henry Oscar, 1823-1895
Houghton, Mifflin and Comapany
Howe, Mark Anthony DeWolfe, 1864-1960
Howell, Clark, 1863-1936
Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Hubner, Charles William, 1835-1929
Johnson, Robert Underwood, 1853-1929
Johnston, Frances Benjamin, 1864-1952
Johnston, Richard Malcolm, 1822-1898
Jones, Charles Calcock, 1831-1893
Kipling, Rudyard, 1865-1936
Lanier, Sidney, 1842-1887
Lathrop, George Parsons, 1851-1898
Leslie's Monthly Magazine
Lorimer, George Horace, 1867-1937
Loye, Dorothy Barnes
Marquis, Don, 1878-1937
Martin and Hoyt Company
Matthews, Brander, 1852-1929
McClure's Magazine
McClure, S.S., 1857-1949
The Metropolitan Magazine
The Nation
J. R. Osgood and Company
Osgood, J. R.
Our Continent Publishing Company
Page, Thomas Nelson, 1853-1922
Page, Walter Hines, 1855-1918
Paul R. Reynolds, Publishing Agent
Reed, Henry M.
Reynolds, Paul R.
Rideing, William Henry 1853-1918
Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1859-1919
Russell, R.H.
Saturday Evening Post
Scribner, Charles, 1854-1930
Scribner's (Charles Scribner's Sons)
Scudder, Horace Elisha, 1838-1902
Sedgewick, Ellery
Small, Maynard and Company
Smith, Roswell, 1829-1892
Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 1833-1908
Stephens, Alexander Hamilton, 1812-1883
Stoddart, Joseph Marshall, 1845-1921
The Thinkers Club
Ticknor, Benjamin H.
Ticknor and Company
Trent, William Peterfield, 1862-1936
Turner, J.A., 1826-1868
Twain, Mark, 1835-1910 (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Wakeman, Edgar L.
Watson, Thomas E. 1856-1922
Weeden, Miss Howard, 1847-1905
Woolson, Constance Fenimore, 1840-1894
Youth's Companion
Joel Chandler Harris papers, 1862-1978
Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University
December 6, 2011
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library Repository

540 Asbury Circle
Atlanta Georgia 30322 United States