Volume 34, Number 2, Fall 1994
Editors note: The Upton Papers located at the Joint Collection, University of Missouri-Columbia, represents one of the largest Ozark folklore collections available. Arranged by professional archivists, researchers may also use a detailed finding aid on location to the collection. The following narrative outline was produced by the Joint Collection. It has 10 linear feet of papers and 71 volumes.
Newspaper clippings, correspondence, research notes, manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs and scrapbooks consisting of the personal and professional papers of a Springfield, Missouri, journalist and writer. The papers are especially strong in the history of Springfield and the Ozarks region, and in Ozark folklore.
The Lucile Morris Upton Papers were donated to the State Historical Society by Mrs. Upton through her nephew, John Morris, on 11 November 1990 (Accession No. 2807). Included in this accession were scrapbooks that were loaned for microfilming and then returned to the family. An addition to the papers was made on 8 May 1991 (Accession No. 2835).
Lucile Morris was born in Dadeville, Mo., in 1898, and died in Springfield, Mo., in 1992. She graduated from Greenfield High School in 1915 and attended Southwest Missouri State and Drury Colleges, although she did not graduate from either school. She taught school for a few years in Missouri and New Mexico. In 1923 Lucile decided to try her hand at journalism. After two and one-half years on the Denver Express and the El Paso Times, she returned to her native Missouri where she spent the rest life. In the early 1930s, she became the first woman reporter in Springfield assigned to the "court house beat." It was there that she met her future husband, Eugene V. Upton, a court reporter.
She was a reporter, feature writer, and columnist for the Springfield News and Leader until her "retirement" in 1963, after which she continued writing her "Good Old Days" column for another 20 years. During that time her local reputation grew until she was known as "the" Springfield historian. Her love of history and the Ozarks, and collecting folklore, old songs, and other historical tidbits of the region, made her an authority who was in demand for lectures and speeches.
Mrs. Upton tried her hand at fiction writing throughout her career. With the exception of two short stories in 1926 and 1937, she remained unpublished in that field. She did publish a non-fiction book, Bald Knobbers, about the Ozark vigilante group in 1939. She was also president of the Missouri Writers Guild, a Springfield councilwoman, and taught in the Drury College adult education program.
Scope and Content Note
The Lucile Morris Upton Papers consist of newspaper clippings, correspondence, research notes, manuscripts, pamphlets and photographs that primarily document the professional career of a Springfield, Missouri, journalist and writer from the 1920s to the 1980s. They are arranged into four series: Subject Files, Personal Papers, Photographs and Scrapbooks.
The Subject Files series, arranged alphabetically by topic, consists primarily of newspaper clippings, research notes and occasional pamphlets and correspondence on a variety of subjects. The majority of material in this series deals with Uptons two major journalistic interests: the Ozarks region (both Missouri and Arkansas) and Springfield, Missouri. Within
the alphabetical listing of subjects are several major topics which are further subdivided alphabetically. These major topics are: Missouri people, Ozark counties, Ozark people, Ozark places, Ozark towns, Springfield people and Springfield places.
The subject files have been retained, for the most part, in the order in which they were placed by Mrs. Upton. A list of subjects can be found in the Folder List (folders 1366c) which follows this Scope and Content Note. The researcher should check this list under all possible entries for a particular subject. For instance, a story about a family who owned a cave in the Ozarks might be filed under caves, or filed in Ozark people (family name), or Ozark counties (name of county in which cave is found), or Ozark places (name of cave), or merely under the name of the cave. Of special interest is a book of hymns printed in 1823 (folder 214) and several folders of old ballads, fiddling tunes and square dancing songs from the Ozarks (folders 215-242).
The Personal Papers series is divided into six sections according to type of material: biographical material, career advancement items, clippings, correspondence, manuscripts and speeches. The first section, biographical material, arranged roughly chronologically, includes school report cards, yearbooks, some financial and genealogical documents, scrapbook pages concerning Uptons term as Springfield councilwoman, and material concerning her retirement from the Springfield newspapers in 1963.
The career advancement section consists of outlines, notes, correspondence and publicity material relating to several writers conferences and creative writing courses in which Upton participated. It also includes material concerning career organizations with which she was involved, such as the Missouri Press Women and the Missouri Writers Guild. The clippings section includes several folders of Uptons columns and articles, often complementing those in the Scrapbooks series to be described later. The last couple of years of the "Good Old Days" column, 1980-1982, can only be found in this section.
The correspondence section of this series is arranged chronologically from 1876-1986. The first folder contains letters to Charles Doling, a Springfield resident, dated 1876-1891, which were given to Upton and are not part of her correspondence. The bulk of the correspondence begins in 1917. The earliest letters are mainly personal but, after the 1920s, the majority are copies of Uptons letters to publishers submitting or soliciting work, and the resulting responses. Some of these are signed by publishers and editors such as Bennett Cerf and H.L. Mencken. In the 1930s letters from friends among contemporary regional literary figures, including Vance Randolph, Rose Wilder Lane and John G. Neihardt, offer advice and encouragement. In the 1950s and 1960s there are several letters from contributors to Uptons "Over the Ozarks" column, containing recipes, remedies, poems, and other gems of Ozarks history and folklore. By the 1970s the correspondence deals mainly with Uptons civic activities in Springfield.
The manuscripts section of this series begins with three book-length manuscripts. Bald Knobbers was published in 1939 while "Joy Ride" (also called "On Wheels") and "Taffy Head" were never published. Most of the section is arranged alphabetically by title and consists of manuscripts of short stories and articles Upton submitted for publication through the years. The section ends with incomplete manuscripts, outlines and notes for stories. The speeches section consists of talks given by Lucile Upton to various groups on topics relating to journalism and writing, the Ozarks, Springfield, and women.
The Photographs series is arranged alphabetically by topic. Although there are a few photos from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (especially among the pictures of Springfield buildings, businesses and street scenes) most are snapshots or newspaper photographers shots of people, landscapes, buildings and other points of interest during Uptons career from the 1930s to the 1970s. The strengths of the series include several pictures of the people and places mentioned in Harold Bell Wrights story the Shepherd of the Hills, other Ozarks characters (both named and unknown), and especially, some wonderful photos and lithographs from several periods of Springfield architecture.
The Scrapbooks series consists of 71 volumes of newspaper clippings collected by Lucile Morris Upton during her career in journalism from 1923 to 1980, including 48 scrapbooks of articles and columns writ-
ten by Upton under her maiden name, her married name, or pen names Cynthia Grey and Celia Ray. They are arranged alphabetically by column title.
Volumes 1-5 include an advice column written under the name Cynthia Grey for the Denver Express in 1923 and 1924. Discussions about "modern girls" or flappers, abused children, fashion, kissing, food prices, the Equal Rights Amendment, child welfare and numerous other social issues provide insight into mid-American culture in the 1920s. Volume 6 consists of articles written under the names Lucile Morris and Celia Ray for the El Paso Times and Springfield, Mo., newspapers around 1924-1925. Volumes 7-8 primarily contain articles written during the late 1920s and early 1930s, although several articles at the ends of the volumes were written by or about Lucile Morris Upton in the 1960s and 1970s. Volume 9 includes "The Book Shelf" a column of book reviews written by Morris in 1934 and 1935. It includes some letters from authors, such as Grant Foreman and Harold Bell Wright, thanking her for her reviews.
Volumes 10-37 consist of Lucile Morris Uptons Sunday column, "The Good Old Days," in the Springfield News and Leader from 1942-1977. Items such as Springfield history, weather, politics, civic improvements and local people and events were taken from fifty-year-old Springfield newspapers and discussed in fictitious letters from "Celia" to her aunt in St. Louis. Each letter is supposedly written 50 years earlier and the events are described as if they were current news. These scrapbooks are arranged chronologically and, although occasional columns are missing, they are almost complete from the 1940s through the 1960s (the 1890s-1910s). There are many columns missing from the 1970s. Some of the missing columns may be found in the Personal Papers series of the Papers.
Arranged chronologically, volumes 38-48 consist of a daily column edited by Upton in the News and Leader that printed original material written by "historians, writers and poets" of the Ozarks. Its name evolved from The Waste Basket" to "The Ozarks Wastebasket" to "Over the Ozarks" during the years Upton was editor, 1947-1963. The scrapbooks cover the years 1947-1949 and 1955-1963. Both professional and amateur writers contributed material to the column concerning the history, folklore, climate, wildlife and natural wonders of the region. Some of the more frequent poet contributors include Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni, Arthur A. Foster, Edsel Ford, Mary Scott Hair and many others. Volume 49 contains Uptons column, "Pastime" from 1973-1980.
The last 22 scrapbooks, volumes 50-7 1, cover various subjects of interest to Upton. Arranged alphabetically by subject, the topics are similar to those in the Subject Files series of the Papers. Some of the scrapbooks are partially indexed. Volumes 54-55 contain collections of old Ozarks songs and fiddling dances and include clippings of "The Old Songs" column from 1934 and 1935. Volumes 63-64 contain various articles dealing with the crafts, folklore and superstitions of the Ozarks. Volume 67 includes a series of articles debating the pros and cons of publicizing the Ozarks "hillbilly" and the first Ozarks Folk Festival in 1937. Volume 71 contains only a few pages of correspondence about the possibility of Upton writing the White River segment of a 24-volume Rivers of America Series to be published by Farrar and Rinehart in the 1930s.
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