Scope and Contents Note
System of Arrangement
Title: Virginia Hamilton Adair Collection
Identifier/Call Number: SC2006/1
California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, University Library, Special Collections
Language of Material:
Date (inclusive): 1920-2004
General Physical Description note:
The collection arrived in 25 boxes of assorted sizes, in no particular order, and they have been arranged into the following
series: Poetry, Prose Writings, Artworks, Personal Papers, Publications, Recordings, Realia.
Virginia Hamilton Adair (1913-2004) was a poet and an educator. Her collection contains poems, book manuscripts, subject files,
correspondence, personal papers, original drawings /illustrations, autobiographical accounts, notes, poem lists, and printed
matter pertaining to her poetry and her life.
Mary Virginia Hamilton was born in the Bronx on February 28, 1913 and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. As a child she was
surrounded by poetry. Her father, Robert Browning Hamilton, was a serious amateur poet who would read to her in her crib,
from classics such as Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad; her mother, Katharine Temple Hopson, focused on Mother Goose rhymes.
Mary Virginia began writing her own poems when she was six. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in 1933 at the age of 20,
already having twice won the distinguished Glascock Prize for poetry. A year later, she earned a master's degree at Radcliffe,
after which she taught for one year at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She had many poems published before and after
World War II. In 1936 she married Douglass Graybill Adair II, who was to become a respected American historian. The Adairs
had three children: Robert "Robin" Hamilton, Douglass "D3"Graybill III, and Katharine "Kappa" Sidney. Throughout the years,
she persisted in writing almost daily, mostly to please herself, without the dictates of publishers. Nevertheless, it is notable
that she published more poetry before her celebrity and her three books than is usually recognized.
Some materials have restrictions. Inquire with the Head of Special Collections for restrictions prior to research.
Rights to this collection are held by California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, University Library, Special Collections.
John Gill Modern Poetry Collection located at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, University Library, Special
Collections contains almost two thousand volumes of world poetry, many from small presses, with particular strength in twentieth-century
Scope and Contents Note
The Virginia Hamilton Adair Papers, 1920 - 2004, comprise much material: thousands of single poems (from the earliest to the
latest) and poem collections and other works never published, which the poet produced over her lifetime from school days to
two years before the end of her life; many poem collections by Virginia Adair into subject folders or binders; daily typed
"journal" pages of notes, requests, poem drafts from 1994 to 2002; lists for public readings and lists of poems submitted
to publications from the 1930s to the 1990s; publications containing her poems and/or interviews, reviews or biographical
accounts and obituaries; family members' poems, prose writings and other items; photographs; audio cassette recordings; video
tapes of public media interviews and private readings; realia such as Adair's manual Olympia typewriter; her original drawings
The Poetry Series comprises Adair's personal and professional files of literary manuscripts: poetry fragments, single poems,
poetry collections in subject folders and themed notebooks; poetry notes and lists.
The Prose Writings Series is composed of Adair's own prose works such as plays, short stories, travel journals and sketches,
and other prose works, essays, articles; typescripts with revisions; autobiographical accounts and musings, etc. Of special
interest is a notebook ["Blindsight"] prepared for submission along with a letter to Oliver Sacks containing prose descriptions
of recurring "visions" or "apparitions" during waking hours. These visions included human figures, buildings, objects, etc.
that were like a movie on a screen inside her eyes.
The Artworks Series contains single drawings made at various ages; a calendar for the Christmas season of 1920-21 she hand-wrote
and illustrated when she was seven; a set of handmade paper dolls with fashionable 1920s outfits she designed as a pre-teen;
a set of hand-colored block prints created at Williamsburg with colonial admonitions to children for church and table etiquette;
a hand-drawn, hand-crafted flip-book for children: "A Child's Do-It-Yourself- Bestiary" that is undated, but possibly from
The Personal Papers Series contains VHA's typed daily notes; business correspondence, permissions, contracts, translations,
etc.; fan letters; newspaper clippings about VHA; lists of poems for public readings; honors, certificates; travel journals
including drawings of scenes; photographs; log book pages and calendars kept by helpers of VHA (c.1996 - 2004); photographs
of VHA and family and friends; miscellaneous family documents; poems and prose works of friends and family members.
The Publications Series contains journals/magazines that include VHA poems and/or interviews of VHA; musical compositions
of VHA's poems by Gwyneth Walker and Terry Schlecter.
The Recordings Series contains: cassette recordings of VHA poems read by her editorial assistants to help her edit her poems
for published books; video tapes of interviews with VHA, and poetry readings by her; miscellaneous audio tapes of music and
subjects she enjoyed.
The Realia Series includes VHA's typewriter, large-print New Testament, etc.
System of Arrangement
The collection consists of 25 boxes and is arranged into 7 series: Poetry, Prose Writings, Artworks, Personal Papers, Publications,
Subjects and Indexing Terms
American poetry -- 20th century