Special Collections

Below is a list of known archives for John Updike materials, presented here as a resource for researchers and those with materials they may wish to donate.


John Updike Archive, ca. 1945-2009 – Houghton Library, Harvard Univ., Boston, Mass.

1,635 volumes (Updike publications and annotated books from his library; see story)

ca. 200 linear feet of papers (manuscripts, correspondence, research files, photographs, drawings, and other materials); not available for use until catalogued (estimated completion  July 2012). Consists of those papers deposited during his lifetime by the author, along with materials acquired from the Updike estate following his death.

The library, since acquiring the archive in October 2009, has received several gifts of letters by John Updike and has purchased some additional material. The Modern Books and Manuscripts Department at Houghton Library publishes an annual list of new acquisitions. Past acquisitions have included the following:

John Updike letters to Warner Berthoff, 1994-2008 and undated
 folder (.08 linear ft.) Gift, Warner Berthoff; *2008M-43 (f)

John Updike correspondence with William Shawn, 1960-1986. 1 box (.08 linear ft.) Purchase, Amy Lowell Trust ; and gift of Allen and Wallace Shawn *2008M-83 (b)

Related collections at the Houghton:

John Updike papers concerning Surviving: the uncollected writings of Henry Green, 1990-1991. 1 box (.5 linear feet) http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.Hough:hou02017

John Updike papers for Howells as anti-novelist, 1987. 1 box and including 2 audiocassettes (.5 linear feet) http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.Hough:hou02018

Lowell-Adams House Printers. Papers, 1964-1972 (inclusive) 1964-1966 (bulk). 1 box (.5 linear ft.). http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL.Hough:hou00765



A Baker’s Dozen: Being a Selection of Books and Manuscripts by one English and Thirteen American authors from the library of Keith H. Baker of Oshkosh, Wisconsin – The Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.

Updike is one of the 13 authors included.


Black Room Archive – The John Updike Childhood Home, 117 Philadelphia Ave., Shillington, Pa.

As yet uncatalogued materials for study by scholars and rotational display, including a bound set of Chatterbox from Updike’s time at Shillington High School plus loose copies from additional years, a complete set of The John Updike Newsletter, Updike’s own set of Harvard Lampoons from his time there, Updike correspondence, travel log and cancelled checks, drawings and artwork by Updike, reviewed books with Updike’s marginalia, other books from the shelves of his Beverly Farms home, personal items, Shillington items circa 1932-45, his mother’s books from the Plowville farmhouse, and the Kevin Schehr Collection donated by Wabash College, Crawfordsville, Ind.—the latter an extensive but not exhaustive accumulation of Updike first-publications in magazines. Owned by The John Updike Society. The house museum is open Saturdays 12-2 p.m. except on major holidays, but the archive is not open to scholars yet.


Beverly Farms Branch Library – 24 Vine St., Beverly, Mass.

Three personal letters, a postcard, one of Updike’s Shillington H.S. “business” cards, and a 2006 Nashville Public Library Literacy Award, all donated by Elizabeth Updike Cobblah, David Updike, Michael Updike, and Miranda Updike. Contact: bef@noblenet.org; (978) 921-6066


The Chip Kidd Archives – The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library, Penn State University, University Park, Pa.

Chip Kidd was the principal designer of John Updike’s dust jackets on books published by Alfred A. Knopf since 1986. The archives are comprised of 250 boxes of materials and 1 terabyte of digital data, which will be available to researchers beginning in January 2015. Included in the collection are original artwork, sketches, separations, page proofs, and original printed versions for each of Kidd’s several hundred published dust jacket and book designs; many of these have extensive handwritten mark-ups and corrections illuminating the artist’s creative process as well as the progression of works from concept through production. Also included is “a wealth of correspondence from authors such as John Updike, William Maxwell, Martin Amis, Gordon Lish, Michael Ondaatje, James Ellroy, Don DeLillo, Larry McMurtry, David Sedaris, Michael Crichton, Orhan Pamuk, Augusten Burroughs, Haruki Murakami, Donna Tartt, and Cormac McCarthy. Contact Tim Pyatt, tdp11@psu.edu, 814-865-1793.


The Donald J. and Ellen Greiner Collection of John Updike – Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Ernest F. Hollings Special Collections Library, Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

Extensive personal collection includes letters, first editions, foreign editions, limited editions, proofs, broadsides, posters, ephemera and one-of-a-kind items.


Fales Library and Special Collections – Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, NYU, New York, N.Y.

Listed in the De Bellis and Broomfield bibliography, with no other details.


Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center – The University of Texas at Austin

Papers related to Alfred A. Knopf and many authors published by Knopf, among them John Updike.


The Jack De Bellis Collection of John Updike, 1976-2008 – Irvin Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, University of South Carolina Libraries, Columbia, S.C.

Two boxes. The collection is comprised of professional correspondence between John Updike and Jack A. De Bellis (author of The John Updike Encyclopedia and John Updike: A Bibliography of Primary and Secondary Materials), beginning with De Bellis’ initial contact with Updike in December 1976 through Updike’s final communication with him dated “Thanksgiving 2008.” Professionally, their exchanges include Updike’s contributions, copyedits, and complaints about De Bellis’ two Updike books and De Bellis’ questions about Updike’s biography as well as notes on typographical and content errors in Updike’s published works. Personally, the correspondence includes biographical details about both authors’ daily lives and schedules.


The Jack W.C. Hagstrom Collection – Amherst College Library, Amherst, Mass.

The collection includes first and translated editions of Updike’s books, first publications in periodicals, transcripts of television interviews, and Updike criticism (both books and periodicals). Also included are memorabilia and tapes and records of Updike reading.


John Updike: An Exhibition – M.D. Anderson Library, University of Texas, University Park, Texas

Extent of holdings unknown.


The John Updike Collection at the Reading Public Library – Reading Public Library, Reading, Pa.

The John Updike Collection is made up of seven sets of materials that were in the personal possession of Linda Grace (Hoyer) Updike, mother of Berks County native and Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike. After her death in October 1989, John Updike donated these items to the Reading Public Library. The collection includes correspondence to and from Mr. Updike concerning the collection.

The Personal Book Collection includes books and pamphlets written by John Updike; The Personal Belongings are correspondence, artwork, notebooks and other pieces which were in the possession of Mrs. Updike; Two Personal Scrapbooks compiled by Mrs. Updike contain articles, poems, and stories by John Updike; The Newspaper Article Collection is by far the largest part of the collection; it contains news articles about Mr. Updike or his parents; The Magazine Articles are writings by John Updike; The Miscellaneous Belongings include manuscripts, a talk, a lecture, some newsletters, and Mr. Updike’s very detailed Shillington H.S. science notebook; The Correspondence with the Reading Public Library consists of letters and postcards, 1989-1997.


The John Updike Collection of James and Ruth Yerkes – Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.

Donated by James Yerkes, who posted news and commentary about John Updike on The Centaurian website for 14 years, the collection includes signed first editions, paperback editions, galley proofs, and advanced readers copies of Updike’s novels, short stories, poetry, criticism, and children’s books. It also includes stories and essays by Updike published in magazines, as well as limited editions, broadsides, audio and video recordings, materials from public appearances, and works about Updike. In addition, the collection includes hand-typed postcards from the author to Yerkes, many of them conveying his bemused feelings about the Internet, as well as correspondence from website visitors—fascinating documentation of the cultural role a popular website devoted to an American author played during the early days of the World Wide Web. For further information about this collection, which is still being processed, contact Barbara Fister (foster@gustavus.edu).


The John Updike Collections of the Alvernia University Archives and Special Collections – Alvernia University, 951 Morgantown Rd., 1st Floor, Reading, Pa.

The John Updike Collections currently consists of three collections:The Rachael C. Burchard Papers, the Larry C. Randen Collection, and the David Silcox/Thelma Lewis Collection.

The Rachael C. Burchard Papers contain materials from Burchard’s John Updike: Yea Sayings (Southern Illinois University Press, 1971), important as an early monograph of Updike scholarship. The Larry C. Randen Collection contains items collected by Randen, who assisted James Yerkes, publisher of the legendary online Updike resource The Centaurian. Materials include clippings of news, reviews, interviews, and other items related to John Updike. The David Silcox/Thelma Lewis Collection combines materials collected by Silcox, Updike’s longtime contact in Shillington, and Lewis, Updike’s high school English teacher.

The archive, which was donated to Alvernia by The John Updike Society, was established to ensure that a significant collection of “hands-on” Updike materials remain in Pennsylvania, the state that inspired Updike and gave him his writer’s start. The archive is open by appointment only, but all holdings have been catalogued and can be viewed online. Contact Alvernia for an appointment: 1-610-796-8223 or library.calendar@alvernia.edu.


John Updike File from Lord John Press, 1976-2003, New York, NY.

The John Updike File from Lord John Press, 1976-2003, is part of The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature at The New York Public Library and is restricted. Researchers must request access to this collection, which includes 200+ typed and autograph letters and postcards, signed, to Herb Yellin (Lord John Press proprietor), 1976-2003; one typescript; numerous galleys and proofs with Updike’s autograph emendations; juvenilia; ca. dozen photographs and snapshots of Updike; eight inscribed fine-press broadsides; two Christmas drawings by Updike; collection of Updike-signed and inscribed ephemera; numerous proofs and galleys of Updike’s works, and Updike-related material from his high school alma mater, as well as correspondence to Updike from Herb Yellin and related material by Yellin.

Application for access may be made through brgref@nypl.org. In-copyright material may not be copied by any means without permission of NYPL and the copyright holder.


John Updike Letters – HarperCollins, New York, NY.

Harper has 80 letters pertaining to A Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures and The Poorhouse Fair, after which Updike changed publishers rather than allow Harper’s to change the ending to his first novel.


John Updike Papers, 1962-1969 – Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The papers of John Updike, novelist, short story writer, and poet span the years 1962-1969. The collection (166 items, 7 containers, 2.6 linear feet) consists of correspondence, galley proofs, plate proof, photographs, typescripts, notes, book covers, poems, and other material. Included are drafts and other material for his novels The Centaur, Of the Farm, and The Poorhouse Fair, and drafts for the poetry anthology Midpoint and Other Poems. There is an additional group of poems, many of which were published in The New Yorker. Correspondence relates chiefly to the publications of Updike’s works. Link.


The John Updike Writers in Society Lecture Collection, 1984-1985 and The Papers of Donald Barthelme – University of Houston Libraries, Houston, Tex.

The John Updike Writers in Society Lecture Collection includes letters from Updike addressed to Carla Cooper, Executive Director of University Relations, and David Farmer, Head of Special Collections, regarding arrangements for the author’s campus visit and interviews. Also included in the collection are the opening remarks of Robin Downes, Director of Libraries, for the luncheon honoring Updike, and an excerpt signed by the author from his first novel The Poorhouse Fair. The remainder of the collection consists of letters from Updike to the University of Houston written after his visit. The Special Collections and Archives Department of the University of Houston has over two hundred of Updike’s novels and collections of short stories, poetry and criticism, including first and later editions, foreign editions, broadsides and private press books, many of them signed by the author.

The Papers of Donald Barthelme are at The Anderson Library of the University of Houston, and contain some Updike correspondence.


Joyce Carol Oates Papers – Syracuse University Libraries, Syracuse, N.Y.

Spanning 1956 to 1998, the Joyce Carol Oates Papers comprises Family correspondence, Correspondence-subject files, Writings, Memorabilia, and Book translations of the American novelist, poet, playwright, essayist and Princeton University professor (b. 1938).

Arranged alphabetically, the Correspondence-subject files contain any combination of incoming letters, photocopies of Ms. Oates’ outgoing typescript carbons, and manuscript and/or printed material by or about the correspondent. Correspondents include agents (Gersh Agency, Blanche Gregory, John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., William Morris Agency); artists (R.B. Kitaj, Barry Moser, David Shapiro); composers (John Duffy, Ned Rorem); critics (Stephen Koch, Elaine Showalter); directors (Frank Corsaro, Emily Mann, Tom Palumbo, Al Rossi); editors (William Abrahams, Barry Callaghan, Ellen Datlow, Reginald Gibbons, Laurence Goldstein, Daniel Halpern, Frederick Morgan, Bradford Morrow, Henry Robbins, Evelyn Shrifte); educators (Henry S. Bienen, John Ditsky, Lois Smedick); journalists (Marj Jackson Levin, Lucinda Franks); novelists (Russell Banks, Richard Ford, Gail Godwin, Paul Theroux, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Gloria Whelan); poets (Chase Twichell, William Heyen, Josephine Jacobsen, Maxine Kumin, Alicia Ostriker, Robert Phillips, John Robert Reed); and translators (Robert Fagles, Edmund Keeley). Correspondence of particular depth and duration includes that of biographer Greg Johnson. Collection overview and search page


Katherine Sergeant White Papers – Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections, Bryn Mawr, Pa.

Part II: Box and Folder List, The New Yorker Correspondence, Collection number M-56.


Linda Grace Hoyer Papers – Myrin Library, Ursinus College, Collegeville, Pa.

The complete literary papers of Linda Grace Hoyer (Ursinus Class of ’23), mother of Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike, are housed in Myrin Library. Hoyer met her husband, Wesley Russell Updike, when they were both students at Ursinus. John Updike donated the papers to the college upon her death.


Papers of Mary Pennington Updike Weatherall, 1893-2018 – Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Cambridge, Mass.

Collection includes art show programs featuring Weatherall’s work, printed material and course work from Radcliffe College, and correspondence with family and friends. Also included are correspondence, photos, scrapbooks, and other materials belonging to Weatherall’s parents, Elizabeth Daniels and Leslie Pennington, and other relatives. Six file boxes plus two folio+ folders, seven photograph folders. Includes typed ms. correspondence between Mary and John in 1952 and again in 1955 while she was in the hospital having a baby.


The New York Public Library – New York, N.Y.

Repository of letters and other material related to The New Yorker, including Updike items.


The Philip W. Burger Collection – Moody Memorial Library, Baylor University, Waco, Texas – Ramona J. McKeown, Collection Dev. Librarian

Three-part collection. Part I features Updike items, including five notebook collections of all John Updike interviews, works reviewed in The New York Times; miscellaneous magazines and cassettes featuring Updike; Berks County materials such as maps, photos, correspondence and broadsides; 82 Knopf first editions, some signed; and 32 critical books on Updike, many signed. Parts II and III contain items related to John O’Hara and Ogden Nash.


Robert McCoy Collection of John Updike’s Buchanan Dying, 1977-2005 – The Pennsylvania State University Library, University Park, Pa.

The collection contains two copies of the program for six performances of the production of Buchanan Dying at San Diego State University in March 1977 for the Institute for Readers Theatre Series; a VHS videocassette of the filmed sequence of Act I; a spiral-bound copy of the Readers Theatre adaptation by Robert McCoy of Buchanan Dying, 1977 (iii, 72 p.); seventeen photographs (stage stills taken at dress rehearsal and candid photos taken on the day of the premiere performance) and two pages of a key to the photographs, with a reproduction of a Harvard Lampoon cartoon by John Updike; and an autographed copy of Robert McCoy’s book, A One-eyed cat in the garden eating peanuts; a memoir of an Osceola, Iowa, childhood during the Great Depression (Chapel Hill, NC: Professional Press, 2005) with commentary about the Buchanan Dying production (pp. 236-237).


Stuart Wright Collection: John Updike Papers, 1946-2010 – Joyner Library, East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C.

Papers (undated) of John Updike, including ms. volumes, correspondence, drafts of published materials, original art, etc., relating to his life and literary career. 3.0 cubic feet, 4 archival boxes, 176 items. Webpage


Susan Sontag Papers – UCLA Library Special Collections, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, Calif. 

In addition to notes, research, and manuscript material related to her writing, theatre, and film projects, the collection includes the following: personal and professional correspondence; journals; schoolwork; teaching material; ephemera and correspondence related to her public appearances, institutional involvement, and political activism; publicity and press; highlights from her library; personal and professional photographs; personal materials including calendars and notes; and digital materials. A John Updike folder in Box 144, Folder 2 contains seven items. Collection overview 


The William B. Ewert Papers – The University of New Hampshire, Manchester, N.H.

Listed in the De Bellis and Broomfield bibliography, with no other details.


William Harmon Papers, Southern Historical Collection – University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

The collection consists of 260 items related to John Updike.


William Maxwell Papers—1928-1998 – Rare Books and Manuscript Library, University of Illinois at Urbana, Ill.

This collection contains the papers of William Maxwell (1908-2000), American author and fiction editor of The New Yorker from 1936-1976. Contents include the manuscripts of Maxwell’s published works, reviews, poetry and novels, as well as newspapers and journal clippings and items from his personal library. Literary and personal correspondence constitutes a large part of this collection. Correspondents include such literary figures as Mary McCarthy, Vladimir Nabokov, J.D. Salinger, John Updike, Eudora Welty and William Carlos Williams. Collection overview and search page


If readers know of more special collections, please email jplath@iwu.edu.

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