Skip to content
print page header

The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Edwin L. Sabin Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1870-1952
Creator: Sabin, Edwin L. (1870-1954)
Extent: 5.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0688
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Novelist. Correspondence, scrapbooks, subject files, preliminary drafts of his writings.

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Boxes 2, 12

Access: This collection is open for research.

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

Acquisition: The Sabin collection was purchased by University of Iowa Libraries in 1974.

Preferred Citation: Edwin L. Sabin 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

Edwin Legrand Sabin was born on December 23, 1870 in Rockford, Illinois. Before he was a year old, his father, the educator Henry Sabin, moved the family to Clinton, Iowa. Edwin Sabin grew up in that river town and graduated from Clinton High School in 1888. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Sabin then went to work as a reporter for various newspapers in Iowa and Illinois. In May 1893, he joined an expedition to the Bahamas organized by Charles C. Nutting, a professor of zoology and curator of the University of Iowa's natural history museum. Sabin resumed his newspaper work upon his return. While working in Chicago, he met Mary Nicole Nash. They were married on October 7, 1896.
Sabin began publishing poetry and short stories in nationally known magazines around the turn of the century. His work appeared in The Chautauquan, St. Nicholas, Country Life, and many others. In 1902, he wrote his first children's book. Slowly his attention began to focus on the West, and encouraged by his publisher he turned his talents in that direction. His western historical fiction was highly researched and he was proud of its accuracy. He and his wife moved to La Jolla, California in 1913, so he could be closer to his subject matter.
The years 1913-1931 were fruitful ones for Sabin. His books for boys were being published and received critical acclaim. However, he was hit hard by the Great Depression. He tried to sell his services as a writing consultant and even tried to establish a correspondence school for aspiring writers. These schemes failed, as did his attempts to publish his own work. The public's taste had changed and his western stories, with strong moral lessons of good and evil, were no longer in vogue. Sabin died on November 24, 1954, completely destitute -- a ward of the county.

The following is an inventory of the papers of Iowa author Edwin Legrand Sabin, 1870-1952. It is arranged in six series: 1) General subject files, including correspondence, 2) Household and legal documents, 3) Sabin's published manuscripts, 4) Typewritten and holograph manuscripts, 5) Typewritten and holograph manuscripts written using his pseudonyms, and 6) Miscellaneous files containing scrapbooks, oversize items and ephemera.

Appendix I is a list of six pseudonyms used by Mr. Sabin. Only four of the names can be documented. There is nothing definite on the manuscript E.P.N. that establishes it as Sabin's work and there is also some doubt as to the authenticity of Annie Lyman Palmer. The mailing address on the manuscript's submission page is not one generally used by Sabin. The manuscript may have been submitted to him for criticism.

Appendix II is a list of alternate titles. Some of the stories are word-for-word the same, but use a different title. Other stories, such as the group or the River Town group, are re-writes of the same basic story. Occasionally, as in the Bull Creek group, the complete copy is known by a different name from that of its rough draft.

To aid the researcher, it should be noted that the bracketed page numbers on the rough drafts refer to the corresponding pages in the complete copy. Although no guide has been drawn up, a close study of the manuscripts reveals that several of the short stories are chapters which have been lifted from the longer works.
The manuscripts in the group which includes Report from Anthony's Nose are probably autobiographical. The correspondence folders contain letters from characters named in the story, such as C. P. "Scoop" Chase and James and Donald Leslie. Reference to other characters can be found in the River Town research folder. A more complete account of the life and literary accomplishments of Edwin Sabin can be found in an article by Phillip D. Jordan in Books At Iowa, Number 22, April 1975.
Folder, "Sabin, Edwin L.," Faculty and Staff Vertical Files collection (RG01.0015.003)

Browse by Series:
The detailed description has not been entered into the repository.
To view the content list, please follow this link.