Manuscript/Archive , Print in English

H. L. Mencken collection

  • Production: 1900-1996.
  • 10.0 Cubic feet
  • LSC - Contact Special Collections for Use
    MS.0476 Box 11, c. 1
Also known as
  • Henry Louis Mencken collection
Local Subjects
  • Articles
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Printed ephemera.
  • Archives.
  • This is an artificial collection made up of printed ephemera, letters, and photographs that accompanied books by and about H. L. Mencken. This finding aid serves to integrate the materials in this collection with the books associated with them.
Other information
  • Processing Information: The collection was processed by Cynthia Requardt in May, 2007.
  • Cite as: [Name of folder or item], [Date], [Box number], [Folder number], [Collection title], [Collection number], Special Collections, The Johns Hopkins University.
  • Finding aids note: Finding Aid Available Online:
  • Restrictions: Single copies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from the Special Collections department. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.
  • This collection of manuscripts and printed ephemera by and about H. L. Mencken is a combination of four accessions. Richard Frary donated the bulk of the items to the library in 2004 in honor of Mencken collector and JHU alumnus, Robert A. Wilson. This collection is named the Robert A. Wilson Collection of H. L. Mencken. This gift includes books by and about Mencken, letters written by Mencken and his brother August, pamphlets by and about Mencken, printed ephemera, and photographs. This collection is described in the printed guide The Robert A. Wilson Collection of H.L. Mencken (Baltimore: The Sheridan Libraries, 2006). The books have all been cataloged in the library's online catalog and are part of the George Peabody Library collection so given a Dewey decimal call number. In 2004 and 2005, Robert Wilson donated some Mencken material directly to the library. This accession includes personal letters from Mencken, photographs, Mencken Day material and other printed ephemera. In 2004 the library purchased a group of newspaper articles written by Mencken or about him. These articles had been collected by Perry Molstad. In 1996, the estate of Kenneth Longsdorf donated a collection to the Eisenhower Library. Largely a collection of Mencken's books, the gift included a framed photographic portrait of Mencken by Aubrey Bodine, a Mencken Day poster, and some newspaper clippings and articles about Mencken. These items are included in this collection.
  • Historical information: Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) was born in Baltimore and lived his entire life in the city he preferred over all others. After graduating from the Polytechnic Institute in 1896, he was destined for the family cigar business, August Mencken & Bro. But Henry was drawn to journalism, and in 1899 got his first newspaper job at the Baltimore Herald. This was the beginning of a literary career that ranged from newspaper reporter, columnist, and editor to literary magazine editor of The Smart Set (1914-23) and The American Mercury (1924-33). Mencken also edited and wrote introductions for publisher Alfred A. Knopf's Free Lance series of books and translated Nietzsche. One of his most acclaimed works was The American Language, a philological study which was so readable it went through four editions and two supplements. Underlying Mencken's social and literary criticism was a mockingly skeptical view of American values that resonated with many in the 1920s, the height of Mencken's popularity. His reputation fell during the 1930s but rebounded in the 1940s with the success of his autobiographical trilogy: Happy Days (1940), Newspaper Days (1941), and Heathen Days (1943). In 1948 Mencken suffered a severe stroke that robbed him of his ability to read and write. He died in his sleep January 29, 1956.
  • Organization and arrangement of materials: The collection is arranged in ten series. Some series are made up of a particular format, while others reflect the entirety of a specific gift. The series are as follows: Correspondence; Writings; Patterson Family Collection of H. L. Mencken; Newspaper Articles by H. L. Mencken; Articles about H. L. Mencken; Photographs; Recordings of H. L. Mencken; Printed Ephemera; Robert Wilson Gift; Kenneth Longsdorf Gift
Identifying numbers
  • OCLC: 887230873
  • OCLC: 887230873