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Edna Frederikson papers

 Collection 0023-LIT

Edna Frederikson (1904-1998) was an author of novels and poetry, as well as a professor at Madison College (later James Madison University) in Harrisonburg, Virginia. She met Katherine Anne Porter at the 1940 Bread Loaf Writer's Conference in Middleburg, Vermont. Porter was especially helpful to Frederikson in the early 1940s as Frederikson made the transition from teaching to creative writing. The collection consists of correspondence between Frederikson and Porter. Important subjects include writing, mutual acquaintances, and events in their personal lives.


  • 1941-1972
  • Majority of material found within 1941-1943

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 Content of Collection

The Papers of Edna Tutt Frederikson consist of correspondence between Mrs. Frederikson and Katherine Anne Porter from 1941 to 1972. Porter's letters were written at Yaddo, in Saratoga Springs, New York; at her nearby home, South Hill; in New York City; and in Reno, Nevada. Mrs. Frederikson's letters were written in New York City; Providence, Rhode Island; and Harrisonburg, Virginia. The correspondence discusses writing, mutual acquaintances, and events in their personal lives.


Edna Tutt Frederikson was born in Everton, Arkansas, on January 23, 1904, to David Walker and Britia Martia McNair Tutt; her family later relocated to Arkansas City, Kansas. President of her senior class and editor of the school yearbook, she graduated from Arkansas City High School in 1922. In June 1923, she married Otto Frovin Frederikson, her high school debate coach, and in 1925, she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Parsons College, in Fairfield, Iowa. The Fredericksons pursued graduate studies at the Universities of Iowa and Nebraska, and each received a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas in 1931. Mrs. Frederikson's doctoral dissertation, a biography of Kansas Governor John Pierce St. John, was published in 1930. She taught history for a summer at Kansas State College and then moved in 1931 with her husband to Harrisonburg, Virginia, where he joined the faculty of Madison College (later James Madison University) as professor of history and social science. Mrs. Frederikson joined the Madison faculty in 1932 as an instructor in the English department and worked her way up to associate professor before resigning in 1941. While in Harrisonburg, she supervised the Madison College News Service, including the student newspaper.

In 1940, Mrs. Frederikson won a fellowship to attend the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference in Middleburg, Vermont. She met many writers and publishers there, with whom she shared her first manuscript, Three Parts Earth, a fictionalized account of her childhood years of poverty in the rural South. Two of her acquaintances, Katherine Anne Porter and Eudora Welty, were especially influential in Mrs. Frederikson's decision in 1941 to devote all of her energies to creative writing. Katherine Anne Porter became something of a mentor for Mrs. Frederikson during this period when she made the transition from teaching to creative writing. In the early 1950s, Mrs. Frederikson completed a second novel; unfortunately, the typed manuscript was lost in transit and never recovered.

After Otto Frederikson retired in 1957, the Frederiksons spent much of their time travelling around the world. Three Parts Earth was finally published in 1972, achieving enough success to merit several printings. After her husband's death in October 1973, Mrs. Frederikson continued writing fiction and poetry, spending several years in the late 1970s at literary colonies, including Yaddo, where her application had been denied in the early 1940s. A collection of her poetry, Never Tomorrow, was published in 1988. At the time of her death on February 7, 1998, she was working on a novelistic triptych entitled, "The Idea of Love," an account of a young writer's quest for professional recognition.


The collection has been arranged in a single series.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased nearly all of Frederikson's correspondence from Waverly Associates and Antic Haye Rare Books in 1998. Mrs. Frederikson's February 6, 1972, letter to Porter, discovered in Porter's prepublication copy of Mrs. Frederikson's first novel, was incorporated into the collection when it was processed.

Related Material

Additional correspondence between Katherine Anne Porter and Edna Frederikson may be found in the Papers of Katherine Anne Porter, (Series I, Box 28 [Reel 2 of the microfilm edition], Edna Frederikson, 1940-1973). The Porter collection also includes correspondence with Eudora Welty (Series I, Box 39 [Reel 29], 1939-1977 and n.d.); Diarmuid Russell (Series I, Subseries 1, Box 14 [Reel 11], Russell and Volkening, Inc., 1940-1943 and n.d.) and Elizabeth Ames (Series I, Box 54 [Reels 43-44], Yaddo, 1934-1977 and n.d.). Porter's library at the University of Maryland Libraries contains two copies of Three Parts Earth. One is a pre-publication copy and the other is a paperback version. Additional Porter-Frederikson correspondence (KAP to EF, December 26, 1942; EF to KAP, January 4, 1943; EF to KAP, October 2, 1943; and KAP to EF, October 15, 1943) is in the holdings of Rare Books and Manuscripts, Paterno Library, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA.

Processing Information

Seventeen of the letters, which were acquired in two separate groupings, were integrated and arranged in chronological order. Edna Frederikson's February 6, 1972, letter, discovered in Porter's pre-publication copy of Three Parts Earth during processing, was removed and placed with the other correspondence of the collection. The collection was placed in an acid-free folder and box.

Guide to the Edna Frederikson Papers
Processed by Kara M. McClurken.
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