Hamlin Garland Papers: Collection Highlights from USC Libraries Special Collections

A Son of the Middle Border

Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) is best remembered by the title he gave to one of his autobiographies: as a “son of the Middle Border.” First receiving notice with a successful collection of grimly naturalistic stories in Main-Travelled Roads (1891), Garland came to prominence just as the “frontier” mentality was receding in the wake of the settling of California and the West. Garland, with roots in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, frequently wrote about how this area had also been borderland in his lifetime. In later years, Garland wrote extensively about American Indian affairs, land conservation, art, and literary trends; he also expanded his geographic range to include romances of the Far West, yet it was the reminiscences of his early years which stamped him in the public mind, and to which he turned repeatedly for inspiration.

Garland was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1918, and won the 1922 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his work, A Daughter of the Middle Border. Following this honor, Garland acceded to the unofficial title of “Dean of American Letters.”

One of Garland’s early adventures in the Far West was his 1898 travels through the Klondike region of northwestern Canada during the Alaska Gold Rush. The Hamlin Garland papers include photographs of Garland camping and writing through gold country with his horse, Ladrone. Out of his journals from this trip, which are also held at USC, Garland constructed his 1899 book, The Trail of the Gold-Seekers.

Items pictured above:

(Image 1) Garland, Hamlin. A Daughter of the Middle Border. Macmillan, 1923.
View this item in the USC Libraries' catalog

(Image 2) Garland, Hamlin. The Trail of the Goldseekers: a Record of Travel in Prose and Verse. Macmillan Co., 1899.
View this item in the USC Libraries' catalog.

(Images 3 & 4) Photographs of Hamlin Garland's trip to the Klondike, 1898.
Find these photographs in the Hamlin Garland papers finding aid.

More from the exhibit:

"The Vulture of the Plains" - poem from Boy Life on the Prairie with handwritten introductory note on verso, undated.
View this item in the Hamlin Garland papers finding aid

Garland, Hamlin. Main-Travelled Roads. Arena Publishing Co., 1892.
View this item in the USC Libraries' catalog.

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