Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Ellis Parker Butler Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1913-1937
Creator: Butler, Ellis Parker (1869-1937)
Extent: .75 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0575
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Author and businessman from Iowa , best known for his short story Pigs is Pigs. The papers consist of correspondence to and from Butler about his writing and the Author's League of America . His wife's correspondence is also included.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: These papers were gathered from a number of different sources over a number of years. Many of the letters came to the University of Iowa Libraries as a gift from Butler's family.

Preferred Citation: Ellis Parker Butler Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Ellis Parker Butler (1869 -- 1937) was a native of Muscatine, Iowa. Dropping out of high school to help support the family he worked in a number of jobs including ones in a spice mill, an oatmeal mill, a china store, and a wholesale grocery. Moving to New York City in 1896, he began writing for trade magazines such as the Tailor's Review, the Wall Paper News, and The Decorative Furnisher.

In 1905, his humorous short story, Pigs is Pigs appeared in the American Magazine, and the following year it was published in book form. Its phenomenal success allowed Butler to give up editing trade papers and turn to full-time authorship. It would remain his most popular work. He concentrated on writing humor and a number of his books were set in his hometown. The boy's books of Swatty and Jibby Jones and his novel Dominie Dean all take place in Muscatine, Iowa. Many of his books were actually collections of his short stories that had appeared earlier in magazines.

Butler was active in the Authors' League of America; he was on the council and served as secretary and treasurer. He also belonged to the Authors' Club of London, and was a member of Salmagundi, the Players, and the Dutch Treat clubs of New York. He was married to Ida Zipster and they had four children.

The papers of Ellis Parker Butler are composed of 0.75 linear feet of manuscripts and date from 1913-1937. There are drafts of three poems by Butler, however the bulk of the collection is made up of correspondence. This correspondence is for the most part arranged alphabetically. The outgoing letters from Butler are alphabetical by recipient, while the incoming correspondence is arranged by sender. There are two folders of correspondence between Butler and William G. Chapman that are arranged chronologically. Ida Butler's correspondence is also included in these papers and is arranged in a similar manner. Some of the correspondents included in this collection are: Frank Bacon, Witter Bynner, William Chapman, Irvin Cobb, Raymond Davis, Robert Davis, Sewell Ford, Hamlin Garland, Robert Holliday, Burges Johnson, Joseph Lincoln, Orson Lowell, George McCutcheon, Thomas Masson, Leo Mielziner, Fulton Oursler, Leroy Scott, Ellery Sedgwick, Henry Shute, Julian Street, Arthur Train, Louis Vance, and Jesse Willliams.
Lighting Out for the Territory Back East: Ellis Parker Butler, American Humorist (

New York Times obituary, September 14, 1937

There is apparently an article called "The Men Who Make the Argosy" in the August 8, 1931 issue of Argosy, but that has not been substantiated.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Sub-Series: Manuscripts of poetry by Ellis Parker Butler
  • Box 1:
  • "Clap in, clap out"
    Typescript draft
  • "Philosophy," March 25 - 1929
    Holograph draft
  • "There was a young lady from Flushing" - 1931
    Holograph draft of a limerick
  • Sub-Series: Clippings
  • Box 1:
  • Clippings
  • "Author's League of America" publication - 1912
  • Sub-Series: Correspondence
  • Box 1:
  • Ellis Parker Butler to his family, January-May - 1934-1935
  • Ellis Parker Butler to his family, June-December - 1935
  • Ellis Parker Butler to his family - 1936
  • Ellis Parker Butler to his family - 1937
  • Ellis Parker Butler to others
    Including letters to: E. Allen, F. Bacon, H. Davenport, R. Davis, S. Eaton, R. Hardy, T. Hotchkiss, E. Holloway, G. Iles, C. James, G. Kleiser, O. Kildare, O. Lowell, P. Maxwell, A. Mason, B. Meyers, W. Phillips, J. Pond, C. Reynolds, F. Rolt-Wheeler, J. Stahl, G. Taggert, A. Vance, S. White, V. Waugh, and H. Weymer.
  • Between Ellis Parker Butler and William G. Chapman - 1913-1932
  • Between Ellis Parker Butler and William G. Chapman - 1933-1937
  • Letters to Ellis Parker Butler: A-G
    Including letters from: G. Ade, M. Aley, J. Allen, G. Atherton, I Bacheller, F. Bacon, R. Baker, K. Bates, E. Bluemenschein, B. Braby, G. Buck, B. Bulger, G. Burgess, W. Bynner, F. Carruth, R. Chambers, J. Chapple, R. Child, W. Churchill, K. Clark, I. Cobb, R. Crothers, C. Crowell, M. Crowell, F. Crowninshield, H. Croy, A. Daly, O. Davis, R. Davis, K. Detzer, A. Dingle, G. Doran, A. Dove, W. Dyer, W. Eaton, J. Erskine, J. Farrar, C. Field, C. Ford, S. Ford, G. Frank, J. Frederick, J. French, H. Garland, A. Gibbs, R. Gilder, W. Griffith and F. Gruger.
  • Box 2:
  • Letters to Ellis Parker Butler: H-N
    Including letters from: H. Hagedorn, W. Harben, O. Harlan, W. Hays, R. Holliday, H. Holt, W. Hutchinson, R. Irvin, I. Irwin, B. Johnson, R. Johnson, M. Justice, A. Kerr, J. Kilmer, G. Kleiser, P. Kyne, L. Lauferty, L. Lawes, A. Learned, S. Lesser, S. Lewis, J. Lincoln, B. Livingstone, E. Lockhart, A. Loomis, C. Loomis, G. Lorimer, R. McCardell, S. McClure, G. McCutcheon, R. McElroy, H. MacGrath, H. MacNeil, E. Markham, D. Marquis, C. Marriott, M. Marshall, T. Masson, H. Maxim, M. Mayo, S. Merwin, L. Mielziner, C. Moffett, T. Mundy, P. Newell, and B. Nye.
  • Letters to Ellis Parker Butler: O-S
    Including letters from: F. O'Malley, W. Osborne, F. Oursler, W. Page, A. Paine, W. Pelly, L. Peters, B. Phillips, C.Pollock, E. Poole, G. Putnam, E. Rice, L. Richards, S. Rinehart, C. Sale, E. Schuler, L. Scott, E. Sedgwick, D. Seitz, W. Shelton, H. Shute, S. Speath, V. Stefansson, H. Steger, B. Stevenson, F. Stockbridge, F. Stokes, W. Stoner, L. Stowe, J. Street, M. Sullivan, W. Sulzer, and M. Sykes.
  • Letters to Ellis Parker Butler: T-Y
    Including letters from: I. Tarbell, W. Teague, J. Thayer, G. Thring, A. Thomas, C. Towne, A. Train, W. Vallee, L. Vance, S. White, P. Wilde, R. Wildhack, H. Wiley, B. Williams, B.C. Williams, J. Williams, M. Woll, C. Wood, and Robert Yard.
  • Letter to and from Ida Butler
    Including letters from: Clara Barrus, Elmer H. Davis, Clyde Fisher, Harold Ober, Julian Street, and William Sulzer.
  • "Go East Young Man: Ellis Parker Butler, American Humorist," by Henry B. Chapin
  • Sub-Series: Art
  • Box 2:
  • Color copy of the painting of Ellis, Ida, and Elise that appeared in Century magazine, December - 1909