Todhunter Ballard papers , 1926-1975

Overview of the Collection

Ballard, Todhunter, 1903-1980
Todhunter Ballard papers
1926-1975 (inclusive)
31.51 linear feet, (60 containers)
Collection Number
Coll 049
Willis Todhunter Ballard (1903-1980) was a writer of the western and mystery fiction genre. The collection consists of professional correspondence from 1947 to 1972, publication records, papers of the Western Fiction Writers of America (WWA) documenting his activity in that organization, and literary manuscripts of 70 books, 17 teleplays, one screenplay, and a few magazine articles.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

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

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Willis Todhunter Ballard was born on December 13, 1903 in Cleveland, Ohio. He attended schools in Cleveland and Westtown, Pennsylvania and, in 1926, graduated from Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio. Right after college he began working for his father's company, F. W. Ballard Company, as an engineer constructing power plants and transmission lines. He stayed there for two years.

His transition to a career as a professional writer began with the editorship of an electrical trade magazine. His first published story, "Gambler's Luck," appeared in Brief Stories in 1927. Ballard was a prolific writer and went on to write over a thousand stories for magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, Collier's, Argosy, McCall's, Esquire, and Liberty. He also wrote stories for pulp magazines such as Black Mask, Brief Stories, Dime Mystery, Popular Western, and Ranch Romances. Ballard wrote about fifty televison and movie scripts including The Outcast for Republic Pictures. Some television series he wrote for were "Cowboy G-Men," "Death Valley Days," "Shotgun Slade," "Shannon," and "Alias Smith and Jones."

Ballard's main interests as a writer were in the mystery and western genres. He wrote over seventy books under such pseudonyms as Brian Agar, P. D. Ballard, Todhunter Ballard, W. T. Ballard, Parker Bonner, Hunter D'Allard, Harrison Hunt, Tod Hunt, John Hunter, Neil MacNeil, John Shepherd, and others. Ballard wrote as part of a pool of writers hired by publisher Tower Books to write stories using the pseudonym of Jack Slade.

Ballard was an active member of the Western Writes of America. He served on the applications committee and also won their "Spur Award" in 1965 for Gold in California (Doubleday, 1965) as "best historical novel."

After a long, successful career as a writer, Mr. Ballard died on December 27, 1980 in Mount Dora, Florida at the age of 77.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Todhunter Ballard Papers consist of professional correspondence from 1947 to 1972, publication records, papers of Western Writers of America (WWA) documenting his activity in that organization, and manuscripts of 70 books, 17 teleplays, one screenplay, and a few magazine articles. There are also 127 books which are largely paperback foreign additions.

The correspondence section is arranged chronologically and contains business correspondence between Ballard and various publishers, agents and lawyers including Doubleday, MacMillian, Houghton-Mifflin, Fawcett, Lenniger Literary Agency, Gordon Molson Associates and H. N. Sawnson Agency.

Following the correspondence are ledger sheets containing the publication history of 51 of Ballard's stories. They are filed numerically according to the number assigned to each story. The publication histories contain information about publisher, contract dates, domestic and foreign rights, publication dates and sales volume. Some related correspondence is also included.

The Western Writers of America material consists of correspondence arranged chronologically from 1960-1974, and applications for entry into the WWA with related correspondence. The applications are arranged alphabetically. A miscellaneous folder contains membership lists, the WWA Constitution and miscellaneous issues of Roundup, the WWA's monthly newsletter.

The various sections of the manuscript series are arranged alphabetically by title of the work. In the book manuscript section some of the manuscripts listed under one title can also be found in the section under another alternate title, as indicated by an asterisk.*

The last box in the collection contains ten bound volumes of tearsheets of pulp magazines stories written by Ballard. Several indexes are included. Wrapped in a separate package is a scrapbook of book reviews and a few photographs of Ballard. Filed with it is a folder of loose material removed from the scrapbook. It contains documents relating to Ballard's wartime service from 1942-1945 as a civilian connected with a production control staff at Write Patterson Field, Ohio. Loose photographs (3) of Ballard have been removed to the Photograph Collection in order to be stored properly.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • American fiction--20th century
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Detective and mystery stories, American
  • Pulp literature
  • Screenwriters--United States
  • Television writers--United States

Personal Names

  • Ballard, Todhunter, 1903-1980

Corporate Names

  • Western Writers of America

Form or Genre Terms

  • Manuscripts for publication
  • Photographs
  • Tear sheets
  • Western stories