Guide to the Harry E. Sever Papers 1920-1976
Cage 372

Summary Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries
Sever, Harry E.
Harry E. Sever Papers
Cage 372
Date [inclusive]
540.0 items.
General Physical Description note
1.5 linear feet of shelf space.
Correspondence, business papers, political materials, literary works, and other papers of a commentator on political and social life in eastern Washington. Includes a fragment of the memoir of his mother Myrtle Sever.

Preferred Citation note

[Item Description]. Cage 372, Harry E. Sever Papers. Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries, Pullman, WA.

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Biographical/Historical note

Harry Earl Sever was born on a Whitman County farm halfway between Colfax and Penawawa in 1897. He was the oldest of eight children, followed by six brothers and a sister. Sever graduated from the eighth grade in 1910 and his family moved to Albion, where he enrolled in Edwards College. His teachers at Edwards were Mr. and Mrs. W.H. Davis and their daughter, Lucile Davis Dana. Sever entered Washington State College in 1914 but dropped out in 1915 to begin farming. Two years later, in 1917, he married a girl from a near-by farm, Clara B. Moore. Things did not go well for the farm financially, and in 1926 he declared bankruptcy and moved to Pullman. From this time until 1942, Sever worked at various jobs from real estate broker to construction worker. He was a janitorial custodian for a museum in Colfax in 1932, and worked on the building of the Rock Island Dam near Wenatchee in 1939. He was a small-time land speculator, but he had no steady employment until hired by W.S.C. as an assistant athletic groundskeeper in 1942. Sever kept this job for twenty years and retired in 1962.

Sever operated a mobile home park called "Sever Sity" on the land presently (2004) occupied by Nendels Inn. The Severs sold the site to the motel developers in 1965.

Sever was a member of the Pullman Toastmasters, Chamber of Commerce, and Pullman Senior Citizens. He was outspoken in his political opinions and frequently contributed letters to regional newspapers. Writing was his hobby, and the culmination of his writing efforts was a novel entitled Dam-mania which he had published by Vantage Press in 1955.

The Severs had three sons and a daughter. The oldest son, Harry E. Sever, Jr. was killed in combat in 1943 in Italy. Richard, Glen and Velma still live in the Northwest. Some papers of Velma Sever and memoirs of his mother Myrtle are included in this collection.

Harry Sever died on November 9, 1976, after a brief illness.

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Scope and Contents note

Harry Sever's papers consist of correspondence from 1931 through 1975, business papers, political pamphlets, letters to the editors of various newspapers, and assorted creative writings, including his published novel, Dam-mania. Included in Sever's collection are some papers of his daughter, Velma, primarily high school and college assignments, and a fragment of the memoir of his mother, Myrtle Sever.

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Arrangement note

The papers are arranged in eight series; the first is biography and autobiography; the second, correspondence, is arranged in one chronological sequence, as are the business papers (third) and political pamphlets (fourth). The fifth series, his writings, is divided into prose, poetry and speeches. The sixth series consists of newspaper articles, letters to the editor, and reprints. The seventh series includes the papers of Velma Sever which are arranged in chronological order and a memoir by Myrtle Sever. The final series includes oversized material such as maps.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University Libraries © 1978
Terrell Library
P.O. Box 645610
Pullman, WA, 99164-5610

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

The papers of Harry E. Sever were donated to the Washington State University Library in 1976 (76-8) by Harry E. Sever.

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Controlled Access Headings

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pullman (Wash.)--Politics and government


  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence

Personal Name(s)

  • Sever, Harry E.--Archives
  • Sever, Myrtle Lucinda Martin, 1878-1971


  • Literature
  • Washington (State)

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Collection Inventory

Box Folder

Biography, relevant news articles, obituaries ca 1965-1976   10

1 1


Box Folder

 1931-1970   30

1 2

 1971-1972   30

1 3

 1972-1975   20

1 4

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Box Folder

Letters to the editor 1953-1975   100

1 5

Business Papers: 

Box Folder

Bills, receipts, cancelled checks 1926-1974   50

1 6

Declaration of bankruptcy (1925), Leases, contracts, tax papers 1925-1971   100

1 7

Accident reports, check book and record 1971-1973   5

1 8

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Box Folder

Pamphlets and political papers 1935-1975   10

2 9

Writings 1920-1975 

Box Folder

Dated Poetry 1922-1973   12

2 10

Dated Prose 1935-1974   22

2 11

Undated Poetry   20

2 12

Undated Prose   30

2 13

Speeches 1959-1972   12

2 14

Published material: Dam-mania & reviews   5

2 15

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Box Folder

Literary material--undated news articles   4

2 16

Reprints of other authors' works   10

2 17

Other papers   10

2 18

Velma Sever: cancelled checks, school (high school & college) assignments, correspondence 1938-1942   50

3 19

Memoir of Myrtle Sever undated   2

3 20

Maps of WSU, Sever land survey, city maps   10

OS 21