Cage 188

James F. Stevens

Papers, 1924-1965

Frontispiece from Paul Bunyan (woodcut illustration by Allen Lewis)

Frontispiece from Paul Bunyan (woodcut illustration by Allen Lewis)

Title page from Paul Bunyan, 1925

Title page from Paul Bunyan, 1925

Acquisition And Processing Information

Warren L. Clare gathered these materials as he conducted research into the life and work of Pacific Northwest author James Stevens, and donated them to the Washington State University Libraries, circa 1960s-1970s. The collection was re-processed in 2008 by Cheryl Gunselman, manuscripts librarian.

Extent/Quantity Information

Number of Containers: 1

Linear Feet of Shelf Space: .5


James L. Stevens (1892-1971), author of Paul Bunyan (1925), was born in Iowa and spent his early years there, first on a farm with his mother, and then in the town of Moravia with his maternal grandmother. At thirteen, he moved to southwestern Idaho to live with his father, who had homesteaded there after leaving his family before James was born. His formal education in public and industrial schools ended with the eighth grade, when he left the Weiser area on a freight train. He worked as a casual laborer in varous parts of Idaho, moving from place to place on freight trains, and continued his education independently in public libraries.

During his military service with the Oregon National Guard in Europe during World War I, Stevens, who had been writing since he was very young, began publishing stories in Stars and Stripes. When his military service was completed he returned to Oregon and his former work as a laborer. He continued to write, publishing some of his work in national periodicals including the Saturday Evening Post and H. L. Mencken's American Mercury.

His first and best-known book, Paul Bunyan, a collection of "tall tales" about the legendary North American woodsman, was published by A. A. Knopf in 1925. After this early success, he regularly wrote and published stories, articles, and reviews in magazines and newspapers, and produced several more books, including Brawnyman (1926), Mattock (1927), Homer in the Sagebrush (1928), Saginaw Paul Bunyan (1932), Timber (1942), and Big Jim Turner (1948).

From 1937 to 1957, Stevens was public relations director for the West Coast Lumbermen's Association. While there, he helped initiate the "Keep Washington Green" program.

Collection Description

This collection consists primarily of materials Warren L. Clare received from James Stevens while investigating Stevens's life and work for his Ph.D. dissertation. It includes one substantial unpublished manuscript, "The Green Glory," clippings of Stevens's newspaper columns and other writings, a small collection of correspondence from the 1920s, and a few miscellaneous items.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is arranged in a single series.


Stevens, James (1892-1971) -- Archives
Clare, Warren L.
Authors, American -- 20th century -- Manuscripts


This collection is open and available for research use. Copyright restrictions apply.

Preferred Citation

The suggested citation for the collection is:

[Item Description]
James L. Stevens papers, 1924-1965
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections
Washington State University Libraries
Pullman, WA

Related Materials

The University of Washington Libraries have a large collection of Stevens's papers (Special Collections division, Accession numbers 2008-001 and 2008-002).

Sources Consulted

Maguire, James H. James Stevens. Boise: Boise State University, 2005.

Clare, Warren L. "Big Jim Stevens: A Study in Pacific Northwest Literature." Ph.D. diss., Washington State University, 1967.


Materials are in English.

Container List:

Box Folder Description
1 1 Interview transcript (typescript). Interviewer: Warren L. Clare. 1963 November 30
  2-7 "The Green Glory: A Story-Teller's Story of Washington State" (typescript, approximately 520 pages), undated
  8 "Out of the Woods" columns by Jim Stevens (clippings from various newspapers), circa 1955-1956
  9 Untitled drafts of poems (photocopied typescripts), undated.
  10 James Stevens: The Laborer and Literature by Warren L. Clare (reprint), 1964 December
    Letter from Stevens to Warren L. Clare (photocopy), 1964 November 23
    "Idaho Nocturne: 1909" by James Stevens (photocopy of article from the American Mercury), undated
    "The Woods" by Jim Stevens (photocopied news clipping), 1955
  11 Selected incoming letters given to Clare (cover letter, 1965, and enclosures, 1926-1927)
    Cover letter from Stevens to Clare, 1965 February 19
    Letter from William Meyers to Jim Tully, 1927 May 12
    Letter from William Meyers to Stevens, 1927 May 12
    Letter from William Meyers to Stevens, 1926 March 25
    Letter from William Meyers to H.L. Mencken, 1926 April 6
    Letter from Countee Cullen to Stevens, 1924 December 3, with note added by Stevens in 1965