Bryn Mawr College Library Special Collections

Katharine Sergeant White Papers

Part I: Description

Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library
Collection Number: M56

Copyright © 2006 by Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library

August 2006
Last Update: August 2006


Total Boxes: 34
Linear Feet: 20

Administrative Information


Gift of Katharine Sergeant White

Ownership & Literary Rights

The Katharine Sergeant White Papers are the physical property of the Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Cite as:

Katharine Sergeant White Collection, Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library.

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

KATHARINE SERGEANT WHITE (1892-1977)Photograph of Katharine Sergeant. From the Katharine Sergeant White Collection, Bryn Mawr College.
Katharine Sergeant White was the first fiction editor of The New Yorker magazine and one of the most important figures of the twentieth-century American literary world. Katharine Sergeant was born in Winchester, Massachusetts in 1892, the youngest of Bessie and Charles Spencer Sergeant's three daughters. In 1914, White graduated from Bryn Mawr College, where one of her older sisters, Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, had received a degree in 1903. She married her first husband, Ernest Angell in 1915, and with him she had two children, Nancy and Roger. Katharine and Ernest were divorced in 1929, and in the same year Katharine married her second husband, New Yorker staff writer E. B. White (author of Charlottes' Web and co-author of Elements of Style).

White's career at The New Yorker began in 1925, when she was hired as a part-time reader of manuscripts for the then-fledgling magazine. Six months later, she was promoted to editor of the Fiction Department, a position she held until her retirement in 1961. As the first fiction editor of the magazine, White not only exerted an unparalleled influence on the course of the development of the magazine, but on contemporary American literature itself. Katharine Sergeant White has been credited with "discovering" many of the great writers of the century, such as John O'Hara and Vladimir Nabokov. She was also an ardent sponsor and promoter of the the work of new writers, among them Mary McCarthy, John Cheever, John Updike, Irwin Shaw, Ogden Nash, Theodore Roethke, and Shirley Hazzard.

White died in 1977 at the age of 84.

The Katharine Sergeant White Papers document White's career at The New Yorker (as well as the history of the magazine ) and her retirement years in Maine, primarily through correspondence. White's papers span the years 1928 to 1977, but the bulk of the material is from the later period of her career and life, 1945 to 1977. The collection is organized into two sections: Correspondence and Other Materials.

Correspondence is organized into four groups: The New Yorker Correspondence, Garden Correspondence, Personal Correspondence, and the Linda H. Davis Correspondence.

Other Materials is arranged into four groups of materials: Writings by Katharine Sergeant White, The New Yorker Photographs & Drawings, Miscellaneous New Yorker Materials, and Miscellaneous Garden Materials.

Works cited:
Davis, Linda H. Onward and Upward: A Biography of Katharine S. White. New York: Harper & Row, 1987.
White, Katharine S. (edited and with an introduction by E. B. White). Onward and Upward in the Garden. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1979.

PART I: Description
PART II: Box and Folder Content

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