This website is based on our book, Postmarked Milledgeville: A Guide to Flannery O’Connor’s Correspondence in Libraries and Archives, published in 2002 by Georgia College & State University. We are adding to our research and moving our findings to this website because the number of archives and libraries holding letters to and from Flannery O’Connor changes periodically. While the book has served scholars as a starting point, we hope to use this website to provide the most up-to-date information on the letters and their locations as possible.
This website provides descriptions of letters to and from Flannery O’Connor found in library and archival collections in the United States. The descriptions are meant to serve as a guide rather than a definitive explanation of what can be found in each collection and in each letter. While many of the collections we found contain material such as clippings, speeches, and photographs, our book and this website will focus on the letters themselves. In our search for O’Connor’s correspondence, we located several collections containing photocopies of original letters and other collections holding the original letters. In order to avoid repetition, the photocopied correspondence is noted with the archives holding those photocopies, but the full description of the letters can be found with the archives holding the original letters.
This guide provides a description of broad topics mentioned in the letters. While we have made an effort to mention important names and events in each set of correspondence, we have not mentioned every person and event written about in all of these O’Connor letters. The events and people noted do not constitute an editorial comment by the authors of this guide. After reading hundreds of O’Connor’s letters, we noticed that some sets of correspondence seemed uncharacteristic of O’Connor’s already published correspondence, and we have tried to make note of these differences. We realize that as more of O’Connor’s correspondence is discovered and studied, these letters may lose their significance. However, at this time we believe that scholars of O’Connor’s work will appreciate this information and find it helpful in forming a more nearly complete picture of O’Connor’s life in letters.
In our research we found several of the institutions holding small collections of O’Connor letters are willing to make photocopies of materials and mail them to scholars. Nevertheless, certain restrictions, imposed on institutions by gift agreements or institutional policy prevent many archives from photocopying original letters. In order to view letters in the more restricted collections, scholars will find it necessary to visit the institutions.
Because of the inconsistent nature of archival collections, every description on the website has a slightly different format. In order to create some consistency, we have used the term “Collection ID” to refer to the series of numbers or letters an archives has assigned to a collection. “NUCMC” refers to the identification number the collection has been assigned for the Library of Congress’s National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Not all collections have been assigned such a number, but the numbers where provided may be helpful when requesting or citing material in these collections.
Each entry in this guide also lists the folder and box numbers and/or collection information necessary to locate O’Connor’s correspondence within each collection. Because some of these may be considered “unprocessed” by the archives holding the materials, scholars should be aware that box and folder numbers may change over a period of time as archivists process these collections. Several of the large collections holding O’Connor letters require more complex arrangements. Thus, in order to provide some context for the O’Connor letters, we have provided either an outline of the collection or an outline of a portion of the collection.
Sally Fitzgerald’s The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979) was the benchmark to which we compared the original letters. While we noticed inconsistencies in some of the original letters with versions published in The Habit of Being, we have not noted the inconsistencies in this guide. Unless otherwise noted, the letters described in each entry were not published in The Habit of Being.
R. Neil Scott