Murder in the Library: The Paper Chase

What? You thought I made this all up, or downloaded it all from Wikipedia? Nope. Here are the books that inspired me to create this site, and the books I’ve used to cobble it together over the years, as well as the ones I’ve discovered along the way, broken down into various categories. If you like this site, you may find some of these as fascinating as I do. 

| General Reference | History, Theory, Criticism & Other Agendas | The Pulps & Short Fiction |
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True DetectivesThe Paper Chase |

The Paper Chase

Libraries and Other Sources for Scholarly Research

It’s an actual thing. Writers live, writers die, and by the time they’re gone, hopefully they’ve left behind a few good books to remember them by. But any serious writers, be they bestsellers or not, leave behind a ton of detritus: papers, manuscripts, unpublished stories, letters, contracts, notes, photos, ideas, promotional doodads and all sorts of other debris and dreck from a writing life.

Fortunately for readers, scholars, mystery geeks and heirs, universities and libraries will pay big bucks (sometimes) for what otherwise would be just landfill. Sometimes writers bequeath their papers. Sometimes they just show up, left on the doorsteps of unsuspecting libraries. Which may explain why so much of what an author leaves behind is scattered all over the place in various collections, sometimes thousands of miles apart.

Wondering where your favourite authors papers ended up? Here’s a (very) partial list:

Boston University (Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center)
A treasure trove of mystery authors. Some of the collections are pretty skimpy, just a few manuscripts and letters, but you could spend weeks or even years digging through some of the others. Or at least I could.

Bowling Green State University (Browne Popular Culture Library Manuscripts)

Indiana University (The Lilly Library)

  • The Mystery Writers of America
    he association’s papers as well as books and periodicals from its library, papers include meeting minutes, committee records, membership lists, and correspondence; materials from the annual Bouchercon conference, the International Crime Congress, and the Edgar Awards Dinner; drafts, proofs, and shelf copies of various works, including several published by Mystery Writers of America Anthology; photographs; and audio-visual materials.

The Newberry (Chicago)
An independent research library.

The University of Arizona

The University of California Irvine (Special Collections and University Archives)

The University of California: Los Angeles (The Charles E. Young Research Library)
Possibly the motherlode for hard-boiled detective fiction from the pulps.

The University of California: Santa Barbara

  • Dennis Lynds (aka Michael Collins, William Arden, John Crowe, Robert Hart Davis, Carl Dekker, Maxwell Grant, Mark Sadler, Sheila Lynds, Sheila McErlean, John Douglas, and Walter Dallas. House pseudonyms include Nick Carter, Brett Halliday, Don Pendleto,Maxwell Grant

The University of Kansas

The University of South Carolina
These guys seem well on their way to  becoming a destination for those interested in detective fiction.

  • Dashiell Hammett
    Many of his personal and family papers. In other words, the stuff Hellman couldn’t get her hands on.
  • Ernest Hemingway (hard-boiled, if not exactly crime fiction)
  • George V. Higgins
  • James Ellroy
  • John Jakes
  • Elmore Leonard
    According to Leonard’s last wife, Christine Leonard, the university paid the Leonard estate $1.15 million in February 2014 for 150 banker’s boxes of manuscripts, unpublished stories and other materials.

The University of Oxford (Bodleian Library)

  • Raymond Chandler
    The vast majority of Chandler’s papers, including working notebooks; drafts, copies of poems and short stories; manuscripts and film scripts. A smaller archive is also held by UCLA.

The University of Texas at Austin (The Harry Ransom Center)

Respectfully compiled by Kevin Burton Smith.

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