Guide to the Ruth Comfort Mitchell Collection
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Guide to the Ruth Comfort Mitchell Collection, ca. 1879-1961
Collection number: Mss 84
Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara
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- Davidson Library
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- Santa Barbara, CA 93106
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- Date Completed:
14 January 2003
- Encoded by:
- David C. Gartrell
© 2003 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
Title: Ruth Comfort Mitchell Collection,
Date (inclusive): ca. 1879-1961
Date (bulk): (bulk 1930s-1940s)
Collection Number: Mss 84
Mitchell, Ruth Comfort, 1882-1954
1 linear foot
(2 document boxes 1 thin oversize box)
University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special Collections
Santa Barbara, California 93106-9010
Physical Location: Del Sur and Del Sur Oversize
Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or
quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given
on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply
permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.
Ruth Comfort Mitchell Collection. Mss 84. Department of Special Collections, Davidson Library, University of California, Santa
Gift from William Wreden, 1966.
Ruth Comfort Mitchell, perhaps best known for her novel
Of Human Kindness, which she wrote as a counterpoint to John Steinbeck's
The Grapes of Wrath, had a long and successful career as a writer, producing numerous novels, poems, short stories, and one-act plays.
Born on July 21, 1882 in San Francisco, Mitchell spent a good deal of time in Los Gatos, California, where her parents owned
a summer home. It was here that her first poem was published in the local newspaper, when she was 14 years old. She pursued
a literary career after her marriage to Sanborn Young in 1914, when the couple moved to New York City. Within two years, she
had a play opening on Broadway and a published volume of poems, to be followed soon after by her first novel.
The Youngs soon returned to Los Gatos and began building their elaborate Chinese-styled home, which they dubbed Yung See San
Fong, on a hilltop ranch. In 1925, Sanborn Young was elected to the California State Senate, where he would serve until 1938,
becoming a close friend to President Herbert Hoover. Ruth proved to be a tireless campaigner and was active in a number of
conservative organizations, even serving twice as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
Sanborn Young returned to life as a cattle rancher after retiring from the Senate and, as such, he and his wife were upset
by Steinbeck's novel
The Grapes of Wrath, which appeared soon after, in 1939.
Ruth Comfort Mitchell determined to tell their side of the story, the result being her novel
Of Human Kindness, in which a gentleman farmer's family must overcome the tribulations brought by migrant workers, union organizers, liberal
academics, and Communists.
Ruth Comfort Mitchell continued to write throughout the 1940s and was an active member of the Christian Science Church of
Los Gatos. She died at home on February 17, 1954 of heart failure.
Scope and Content of Collection
The collection contains correspondence, typescripts of articles and speeches, research files, photographs, and ephemera of
American author Ruth Comfort Mitchell. Correspondents include William C. Morrow, Robert W. Service, and Wendell Wilkie. Much
of the collection relates to Mitchell's research and writing on the migrant question of the late 1930s, after the publication
The Grapes of Wrath, as seen from the perspective of the area farmers and ranchers.
The collection also contains a number of books, including some by Ruth Comfort Mitchell, which have been cataloged separately
and which may be searched on Pegasus, the UCSB Libraries online catalog.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Mitchell, Ruth Comfort, 1882-1954
Box 1: 1
Anslinger, Harry J., 1961 (to Sanborn Young), n.d.
Box 1: 3
Council for Social Action, 1939
Box 1: 4
D. Appleton - Century Co., 1923
Box 1: 6
Morrow, William C., 1900-1915
Box 1: 7
Rooney, Alicia L., 1939-1940
Box 1: 8
Shepard, Arthur C., 1939-1940
Box 1: 9
U.S. Department of Labor, 1939
Box 1: 15
Unidentified, ca. 1908-1940
Box 1: 17
Legal Documents (includes writing contracts), 1908-1913
Writings and Speeches
Scope and Content Note
Includes typescripts, publishers' notices, and related material.
Box 1: 18
Lists of Writings (stories, novels, plays), n.d.
Box 1: 19
The Grapes of Wrath, ca. 1939
Box 1: 20
Of Human Kindness, 1940
Box 1: 20
Flags of California and
Please Stand By), n.d.
Box 1: 21 - 22
Poetry (typescripts and printed copies), ca. 1916-1937, n.d.
Box 1: 24
Screenplay - "Perjury", 1922
Box 2: 1 - 3
Stories and Articles (printed copies), 1917-1941
Box 2: 5
Reports and Speeches, ca. 1939-1940
Box 2: 6
Mitchell Family (clipping, theatre programs), ca. 1879-1880s
Box 2: 7
Guest Book, ca. 1922-1947
Box 2: 8
Miscellany (includes biographical sketch), n.d.
Box 2: 9
Photographs - Robert W. Service (2 items, including postcard with note from Service), ca. 1910s
Box 3: 1
Scrapbook - mainly clippings relating to migrant issues, 1939-1940
Box 3: 2
Copies of stories for newspapers and magazines such as
Ladies' Home Journal, 1928-1937