Helen Jane Olson Papers, 1947-1984  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Creator
Olson, Helen Jane, 1898-1984
Title
Helen Jane Olson Papers
Dates
1947-1984 (inclusive)
Quantity
0.75 linear feet
Collection Number
Mss 126 (collection)
Summary
Helen Jane Olson was a Miles City, Montana, writer who concentrated on historical fiction. The collection contains correspondence, personal items, and a few unpublished literary works.
Repository
University of Montana, Mansfield Library, Archives and Special Collections
Archives and Special Collections
Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library
University of Montana
32 Campus Dr. #9936
59812-9936
Missoula, MT
Telephone: 406-243-2053
Fax: 406-243-4067
library.archives@umontana.edu
Access Restrictions

Researchers must use collection in accordance with the policies of Archives and Special Collections, the Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library, and the University of Montana--Missoula.

Languages
English
Sponsor
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Helen Jane Olson was born in Scotland on May 29, 1898, to William and Mary Ann (Stewart) Barron. She emigrated to the western United States, and married Edward H. Olson in 1938 in Seattle, Washington. The couple settled in Miles City, Montana, where she worked as a teacher. Olson attended Miles City Community College, then transferred to the University of Montana in Missoula. In June, 1947, she graduated from the university with degrees in both history and political science, and with many credits in English as well. She went on to study writing instruction with Dr. George Savage, first at the University of Washington, then at the University of Southern California. She died in Miles City on March 1, 1984.

Olson wrote poetry, short stories, and plays. In 1974, Vantage Press published two of her plays, You Wouldn't Dare and Long to Remember. Her work reflects her interest in history and political science, concentrating on historical fiction. Several unfinished short stories, however, are both personal and emotional.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection includes correspondence (1973-1978), a few legal documents and financial records (1947-1977), memorial items (1961 and 1984), unpublished literary works (1954-1984), and research materials. Olson wrote letters to numerous publishers about her work, and received acknowledgments from universities and historical societies for donating copies of her plays. The legal documents and financial records range from a University of Washington Extension Credit Certificate, to a tax assessment receipt, to a receipt for attorney's fees. Memorial items in the collection are limited to her husband's obituary and a few items from her own funeral. Her unpublished works include poems and short stories.

The bulk of the collection is research material for a three-act play Olson was planning on the life of Robert E. Lee. The research consists mostly of transcripts of published biographies of Civil War generals: Lee the American by Bradford, Lee by Freeman, Meet General Grant by Woodward, Rise and Fall of Rebel Government by Davis, and Sherman - Fighting Prophet by Lewis. Also included are excerpts from Synge's Deirdre of the Sorrows and Cheney's The Theatre.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. and any other applicable statutes. Copyright not transferred to the University of Montana.

Preferred Citation

[Name of document or photograph number], Helen Jane Olson Papers, Archives and Special Collections, The University of Montana--Missoula.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I:  General Correspondence , 1973-1978Return to Top

3 folders

The correspondence is divided into three folders: letters from Vantage Press to Olson regarding publication of her plays (1973-1976), drafts of letters from Olson to various publishers promoting her plays (1978), and letters from universities and historical societies acknowledging receipt of her book (1975-1976).

The correspondence is arranged chronologically within each folder.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/1
Correspondence from Vantage Press
1973-1976.
1/2
Drafts of letters from Olson to various publishers
1978.
1/3
Letters from universities and historical societies
1975-1976.

Series II:  Legal Documents/Financial Records , 1947-1977Return to Top

1 folder

This series consists of three documents: a University of Washington Extension Credit Certificate (1947), a tax assessment receipt (1956), and a receipt for attorney's fees (1977).

Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/4
University of Washington Extension Credit Certificate, 1947; a tax assessment receipt, 1956; and a receipt for attorney's fees, 1977.

Series III:  Memorial Service Items , 1961-1984Return to Top

1 folder

This series consists of a laminated obituary of Edward H. Olson dated November 21, 1961; as well as a program, blank thank-you card for pallbearers (with envelope), and a spiral-bound memorial record book from Helen Jane Olson's funeral (1984).

The items are arranged chronologically.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/5
Obituary of Edward H. Olson dated November 21, 1961; and items from Helen Jane Olson's funeral, 1984.

Series IV:  Unpublished Works , circa 1954-1984Return to Top

2 folders

Series IV consists of unpublished literary works by Helen Jane Olson. These include a short story about a husband who is dying of cancer (ca. 1968), several copies of original poems, draft pages of a story titled "My Story," and 24 pages of a play set in the 1930s South.

The items are arranged in their original order.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
1/6
Unpublished, incomplete draft of a short story by Olson about a husband who is dying of cancer
circa 1968
1/7
Several copies of original poems, draft pages of a story titled "My Story," and 24 pages of a play set in the 1930s South
undated

Series V:  Research/Notes , undatedReturn to Top

7 folders

This series includes research material for a three-act play Olson was planning on the life of Robert E. Lee. The research consists mostly of typed transcripts of published biographies of Civil War generals: five pages of Meet General Grant by W.E. Woodward, published by Horace Liverwright, Inc., 1928; 19 double-sided pages of Rise and Fall of Rebel Government by Jefferson Davis, published by Crowell-Collier Publishing Co., 1861; typewritten notes on "Allen Barker - English Author on the American Civil War"; pp. 1-3 of Sherman - Fighting Prophet by Lloyd Lewis, published by Harcourt, Brace, and Co., undated; pp. 1-165 of Lee the American by Gamaliel Bradford, published by Houghton Mifflin Company and University Press Cambridge, undated (handwritten notes on the transcription are dated October 19, 1977); pp. 1-271 Lee by Richard Harwell, abridged by Douglas Southall Freeman, n.d; and handwritten notes on generals of the Civil War, ca. 1977. Also included are a typewritten page about similarities between Lincoln and Kennedy, undated, pp. 120-136 of Cheney's The Theatre, and pp. 15-25 of Synge's Deirdre of the Sorrows.

The items are arranged in their original order.
Container(s) Description Dates
Box/Folder
2/1
Similarities between Lincoln and Kennedy; Cheney's The Theatre; and Synge's Deirdre of the Sorrows
undated
2/2
Woodward's Meet General Grant ; Davis' Rise and Fall of Rebel Government; typewritten notes on "Allen Barker - English Author on the American Civil War"; Lewis' Sherman - Fighting Prophet; Harwell and Freeman's Lee; and handwritten notes on generals of the Civil War
ca. 1977
2/3
Typed transcription of pp. 1-88 of Lee the American by Bradford
2/4
Typed transcription of pp. 89-165 Lee the American by Bradford
2/5
Typed transcription of pp. 1-86 of Lee by Southall and Freeman; handwritten notes on the biography of Robert E. Lee
2/6
Typed transcription of pp. 87-183 of Lee by Southall and Freeman
2/7
Typed transcription of pp. 184-271 of Lee by Southall and Freeman

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Scottish Americans--Montana--Miles City
  • Women authors, American--Montana--Miles City
  • Women dramatists, American--Montana--Miles City
  • Personal Names :
  • Lee, Robert E. (Robert Edward), 1807-1870--Drama
  • Corporate Names :
  • University of Montana--Missoula--Alumni and alumnae