Ella Elizabeth Clark Papers, 1944/1965

Overview of the Collection

Clark, Ella Elizabeth
Ella Elizabeth Clark Papers
1944/1965 (inclusive)
5 containers., (2.5 linear feet of shelf space.), (530 items.)
Collection Number
Cage 146
Correspondence, research notes, articles, drafts, clippings, photographs and printed material re: the collection and publication of Indian legends and mythology. Included are typescript drafts of Indian Legends of Canada (1960), and Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies (1966).
Washington State University Libraries' Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Terrell Library Suite 12
Pullman, WA
Telephone: 509-335-6691
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

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

Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Ella Elizabeth Clark was born at Summertown, Tennessee in 1896. After attending high school in Peoria, Illinois in 1917 she became a high school teacher though she did not receive her B.A. from Northwestern University until 1921. Miss Clark continued to teach high school English and dramatics until 1927 when she received her M.A. from Northwestern and began teaching at Washington State University. From 1927 to 1961, when she retired from the English faculty as professor emeritus, she taught both beginning and advanced writing and literature courses and wrote on such diverse subjects as Indian mythology, botany, and firefighting in our national forests.

In 1933, in collaboration with fellow faculty member Paul P. Kies, she wrote a writer's manual and workbook which was soon followed by an annotated anthology of poetry which she authored alone. It was also in the 1930's that Miss Clark began her travels in Canada, Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest in search of the varied myths and legends of the North American Indian which were dying in the wake of the new urbantechnological age. She continued this work into the next decade while continuing to be an active teacher and member of several professional, campus, and local history associations. The Second World War involved Miss Clark as a fire lookout for the United States Forest Service in the Cascades for several summers. This new experience provided her with rich materials for publication on the varied flora of the Cascades and attempts to prevent fire from destroying this natural heritage.

However, the major core of Miss Clark's work continued to be the diverse legends of the Indian. Her findings were published in Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest (1953), Indian Legends of Canada (1960), and Indian Legends From the Northern Rockies (1966). This scholarly interest in mythology flowed over into a general concern for the well-being and future of the American Indian which is apparent not only in her published works but in her personal correspondence.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Ella E. Clark papers consist in the main of typescript drafts of two books and many articles. In addition, there are manuscript research notes used in preparation for the works on Indian mythology. The rather brief correspondence, both professional and personal, offer an interesting complementary source of information on the varied aspects of Miss Clark's life.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

[Item Description]. Cage 146, Ella Elizabeth Clark Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


The papers are arranged chronologically in consecutively numbered folders in four series: Professional and personal correspondence; Drafts of books and articles; Research notes on Indian mythology; and Published articles.

Acquisition Information

The Ella E. Clark papers were donated to the Washington State Library by Miss Clark between the years 1959-1968.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Series 1: CorrespondenceReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 1
Correspondence with McClleand and Stewart, publishers of Toronto, Canada re: Indian Legends of Canada (1960).
70 items.
1 / 2
Correspondence with libraries, national parks, and Indian reservations in Canada re: sources of Indian legends.
25 items.
1 / 3
Correspondence with regional libraries, societies, and governmental agencies in the United States re: sources of Indian legends.
35 items.
1 / 4
Correspondence with the Oregon and Wisconsin Historical Societies re: publication of an edited version of George Gibbs' 1856 manuscript on Indian mythology.
8 items.
1 / 5
Correspondence with libraries, archives, and associations re: publication of an 1889 memoir of a trip taken on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in 1859.
30 items.
1 / 6
Letters, reprints, and reports from the Association of American Indian Affairs, Inc. of New York City.
40 items.
1 / 7
Correspondence, newspaper clippings, and an article re: Frederic Littman, sculptor of the bust of FDR at Grand Coulee Dam.
9 items.
1 / 8
Letters from Goldie van Bibber Putnam re: Indian legends, the use of ferries in Washington State, and personal matters. Includes an obituary of Mrs. Putnam.
34 items.
1 / 9
Letters from Marie Houghton Brent of Republic, Washington re: Indian legends she had learned as a child and matters of a personal nature that Mrs. Brent believed might be of historical interest to Miss Clark.
12 items.
1 / 10
Correspondence with Click Relander, J.A. Harrington, J. Nielson Barry, Otis Halfmoon, Arthur C. Ballard, Cull A. White, Mary Colvig Warner, E.V. Kuykendall, V.O. McWhorter and others re: Indian legends and mythology, the Columbia River, Lewis & Clark, and the termination of Indian reservations.
86 items.

Series 2: DraftsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
1 / 11-12
Typescript draft of Indian Legends of Canada
2 / 13-14
Typescript draft of Indian Legends From the Northern Rockies
2 / 15
Drafts of Indian legends with brief introductions and sources identified.
70 items.
3 / 16
Drafts of published and unpublished articles, re: Indian mythology, contemporary Indian customs, Indian reactions to Lewis & Clark, and Indian missions in the Pacific Northwest.
26 items.
3 / 17
Drafts of articles re: George Gibbs' manuscript on Indian mythology; Memoir of 1889 about a trip taken on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in 1859; Includes research materials relative to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal.
8 items.
3 / 18
Drafts of articles re: botany, firefighting in national forests, scenic wonders, exploration in the Cascades, and liberal arts education. Includes photographs used for firefighting article.
53 items.
3 / 19
Drafts of nine published sonnets
4 / 20
Sacagawea of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
4 / 21
Voices of the Winds

Series 3: Research NotesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
5 / 22
Animal Stories
5 / 23
5 / 24
Bridge of the Gods
5 / 25
British Columbia Myths
5 / 26
Columbia River
5 / 27
Coyote Tales
5 / 28
Crater Lake
5 / 29
5 / 30
Fire Myths
5 / 31
Fireside Tales
5 / 32
General Beliefs and Customs
5 / 33
Hood/Adams, St. Helens
5 / 34
Indian Tribes of the Northern Rockies
5 / 35
5 / 36
6 / 37
Lewis and Clark
6 / 38
McWhorter Papers
6 / 39
6 / 40
6 / 41
Olympic Peninsula and Puget Sound
6 / 42
6 / 43
Rocks and Waterfalls
6 / 44
6 / 45
6 / 46
6 / 47
6 / 48
Wishram Texts

Series 4: PublicationsReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
7 / 49
Publications in historical and nature journals, newspapers, and magazines
7 / 50
Ella Clark, two unidentified Indians

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Indians of North America--Folklore

Personal Names

  • Clark, Ella Elizabeth, 1896- --Archives (creator)

Titles within the Collection

  • Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies
  • Indian Legends of Canada