Ethel Nestell Fortner (1907-1987) was born in Aspen, Colorado in February 11, 1907. The second of six children of Sam and Ida Nestell, Ethel was raised in the small mining towns of eastern Colorado. She attended public schools in Glenwood Springs. After fraduating from high school Ethel attained a provisional teacher's certificate, and at the age of nineteen began her teaching career in a one-room log schoolhouse. After two years of teaching she wpent on year (1927-1928) at Western States College in Gunnison and earned a lifetime certification to teach in Colorado. She then taught in a Colorado Mining Camp.
Believing that she could do better, Ethel Nestell came to Oregon in 1931. She accepted a teaching position at the Oregon School for the Blind in Salem and stayed there for twelve years, eventually becoming principal of the school. In 1937 she married fellow teacher Lawrence Fortner. She received her BA in psychology from the University of Oregon, also in 1937, by attending summer school and extension classes. She left her position at the State School for the Blind to become Vision Supervisor in the Oregon State Department of Education. After WWII she resigned that jog to join her husband in Seattle where he was working for the Veteran's Administration.
After a year in Seattle, the Fortners settled on a farm near Estacada, Oregon, and Ethel returned to teaching. She taught school and worked as a school administatro until she retired thirteen years later.
Retirement gave Fortner the opportunity to pursue other interests, especially water color painting and poetry. Although she ahd begun writing poetry in 1927, she was not published until 1962, when her poem "December Morning" was printed in the Oregonian newspaper. From that time on, over two hundred of her poems were published in newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. She also published four collections of poems. Recognition of her talent came in the form of several awards, including first place in the Oregon State Poetry Association contest in 1964 and the "Voice of the Year" publication awards in 1967. Ethel Fortner died on April 16, 1987.
The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, biographical material, subject files, reviews, publications, scrapbooks, manuscripts by others, audio and reel-to-reel tapes, books, and photographs.
Correspondence is arranged chronologically (1964-1980) and includes both personal and business letters.
The manuscript series is separated into sections. The first section is book-length manuscripts comprised of Fortner's poem collections and the second section is made up of single poems with a few illustrations. The first two sections contain both published and unpublished poetry, drafts, revisions, and background material. The third section contains lectures and articles, and the fourth contains reviews by Fortner. All material is organized alphabetically by title. There is also one folder of manuscripts and publications by Larry (Lawrence) Fuller. The fifth section contains material for "New as a Wave," a book by Eve Triem that Fortner compiled and edited. This section contains poetry manuscripts by Eve Triem, sketches and illustrations by Fortner, and a transcription of an interview between Eve Triem and Kathryn Kaye, who acted as the book’s promoter.
The subject files series contains files on poets, publishers, editors, organizations and periodicals, and are organized alphabetically.
The reviews series consists of reviews of Fortner's work.
The publications series consists of publications that contain Fortner's poetry, or publications that Fortner edited or compiled. This series is arranged alphabetically by title of publication.
The manuscripts by other authors series contains manuscripts that were sent to Fortner for her criticisms, suggestions and editorial skill, and are arranged alphabetically by author.
Also included in the collection are scrapbooks that contain poems by others and poetry by Lawrence Fortner, biographical files, publicity files, interviews, photographs, and books written by or edited by Fortner, as well as anthologies that contain her work.
Fortner, Eve Triem, Ogden Nash, and Ron Bayes are represented on reel-to-reel and cassette tape interview recordings.
Photographs include pictures of Ethel and Lawrence Fortner, Eve Triem, and William Stafford.
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[Identification of item], Ethel Nestell Fortner papers, Coll 182, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.