Erskine Caldwell published more than 50 novels during his life. Yet it is his first book, Tobacco Road (1932), for which he is most often remembered.
This microfilm edition of 38 personal scrapbooks records the furor caused by Tobacco Road and documents Caldwell's other novels, his work as a journalist and correspondent during World War II, and his involvement as a spokesman for the dispossessed--particularly the poor of his native South.
Graduate and undergraduate researchers in American literature, journalism, theater, and library science find a wealth of research possibilities in these unique papers. The scrapbooks begin with the 1932 publication of Tobacco Road, which one reviewer described as "More than a novel; it is a case study in sociology." The novel's blatant realism generated attempts to ban it. Students can use the legal defenses written in the book's support as a valuable resource in studying the history of censorship in the U.S.
Caldwell's scrapbooks also preserve mementos of the Broadway production of Tobacco Road-- photographs of actors in costume, illustrations, theatrical posters, and a James Thurber cartoon. Articles depicting the range of critical reaction to the stage version can be used as a starting point in tracing periodical criticism of Caldwell's works.
Also documented are Caldwell's later works, such as God's Little Acre, and the collaborative works between Caldwell and his wife, noted photographer Margaret Bourke-White, including You Have Seen Their Faces (1937) and Say, Is This the U.S.A. (1941).
Those interested in his journalistic career will find useful Caldwell's newspaper commentaries on the lives of poor Southern whites and blacks, the practice of lynching, and the effects of the Great Depression in the South. A comparison can then be made between these writings and the elements of social consciousness within Caldwell's literary works.
VOLUME EQUIVALENT: 38 volumes