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Donald Elder papers

 Collection 0012-LIT

Donald Elder (1913-1965) was an editor with Doubleday, Doran and Co., which published the English translation of José Joaquín Fernandez de Lizardi's The Itching Parrot in Katherine Anne Porter's name. He was also the author of Ring Lardner, A Biography. The collection consists of correspondence between him and Porter. Important subjects include writers and writing and Porter's personal interests and opinions, as well as The Itching Parrot and Ship of Fools.


  • 1940-1963
  • Majority of material found within 1940-1963

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


0.25 Linear Feet

Scope and Contents

The papers of Donald Elder cover the period 1940 to 1963 and consist primarily of correspondence from Katherine Anne Porter to Donald Elder. The collection includes telegrams, postcards, Christmas cards, and a newspaper clipping. The major topics include Porter's life at her various residences; financial problems; mutual acquaintances; opinions about World War II; Porter's work on The Itching Parrot and Ship of Fools; and family and personal affairs.

Biographical / Historical

Donald Elder, editor and writer, was born on April 15, 1913, in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Niles, Michigan. In 1935 he received his undergraduate degree from the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at the University of Michigan. While a student at Michigan, Mr. Elder won the freshman literature contest of 1932; the Avery Hopwood Award for creative writing in 1933 for sketches entitled Railroad Men; and a major fiction award in 1935. In 1935, he began his career as an editor at Doubleday, Doran and Co., Inc., Publishers, where he rose through the company's ranks to become Vice President in 1946. In 1947, he took a leave of absence from the company to write Ring Lardner: A Biography, which was published by Doubleday in 1956.

While Mr. Elder was an editor at Doubleday, he became acquainted with Katherine Anne Porter, and they became close friends. For Doubleday, he edited Eugene Pressly's translation of the Mexican novel The Itching Parrot that was published under Porter's name in 1942. Mr. Elder died May 5, 1965, at the age of 52.


The collection has been arranged in a single series.

  1. Series 1: Correspondence

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Papers of Donald Elder were purchased by the University of Maryland at College Park Libraries from Stephen Elder, Donald Elder's nephew, in August 1972.

Related Material

Materials related to this collection can be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, Series I, which contains correspondence from Donald Elder to Porter.

Processing Information

Items within the series were arranged in chronological order and divided into six folders. Staples and paper clips were removed and replaced with plastic clips. The correspondence has been placed in acid-free folders in an acid-free box.

Guide to the Donald Elder papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742