University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Waldo Frank Papers

1922 - 1965

Manuscript Collection Number: 375
Accessioned: September 1987
Extent: .6 linear feet (78 items)
Content: Letters, manuscripts, photographs, and ephemera
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: August 1998, by Meghan J. Fuller

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

A novelist, social historian, and political activist, Waldo Frank was born on August 25, 1889 to an upper-middle class, Jewish family in Long Branch, New Jersey. A prolific writer, Frank penned fourteen novels, eighteen volumes of social history, and well over one hundred articles on literary and political subjects. Once considered one of America's premier intellectuals, Frank has since slipped into relative obscurity. Only in Latin America are his books still widely read.

Frank had already completed his first novel, Builders in Sand, by the age of seventeen, though it was never published. The same year, he was expelled from his public high school for refusing to enroll in a required Shakespeare course; he felt he knew more than the teacher. He is said to have read over a thousand books before he went to college. After his expulsion, his parents sent him to a boarding school in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he was introduced to the great French writers and where he began work on his second volume, The Spirit of Modern French Letters, which never saw publication. He eventually returned to the United States and was graduated with both a B.A. and an M.A. from Yale in 1911.

Frank's first published novel, The Unwelcome Man: A Novel, is a psychoanalytic look into the life of Quincy Burt, a man struggling to find his place in a tumultuous, industrial society. Faced with the realization that he does not belong, the man purchases a gun with the intention of committing suicide; however, before he pulls the trigger, he realizes that he does belong precisely because, like everyone else, he is already dead, both spiritually and intellectually. Frank owed much of the inspiration for this novel to American transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson and especially Walt Whitman. A self-professed "naturalistic mystic," Frank's ideology came from a fusion of Freud, Hegel, Marx, Spinoza, Eastern mysticism, Judaism, and American transcendentalism. He believed that many of the world's problems would be solved if each individual achieved a oneness or wholeness with the universe.

In addition to his novel writing, Frank made his presence known in journals and magazines. In 1914, he was made associate editor of Seven Arts, a journal which ran for just twelve installments but was nevertheless an important forum in which artists and writers could express their politics. Frank also became a regular contributor to the New Yorker in 1925 under the pseudonym, "Search-light." That same year he was named contributing editor of the New Republic.

Frank followed The Unwelcome Man with The Dark Mother (1920), and a series he called "The Lyric Novels," because they offer an emotional rather than rational experience, much like poetry. These novels include City Block (1922); Rehab (1922); Holiday (1923); and Chalk Face (1924).

City Block and Rehab did not received the critical attention Frank felt they deserved; T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland appeared the same year, and Frank's novels went relatively unnoticed. Disenchanted, Frank abandoned his fiction writing. Between the years 1924 to 1925, he wrote ninety-seven articles, two plays, and Virgin Spain: Scenes from the Spiritual Drama of a Great People, a cultural study of Spain for which he earned widespread recognition and critical acclaim in Latin America. The success of Virgin Spain led to the publication of The Re-discovery of America: An Introduction to a philosophy of American Life (1929); America Hispana: A Portrait and a Prospect (1931); and Dawn in Russia: The Record of a Journey (1932). During this time, Frank became more active politically, attending meetings, strikes, and protests with Sherwood Anderson, Theodore Dreiser, and others.

Despite a successful lecture tour of Latin America in 1942 and the subsequent publication of South American Journey (1943) and Birth of a World: Simon Bolivar in Terms of His Peoples (1951), Frank returned to novel writing. In his later years, his popularity had declined to such an extent that he could not find publishers for his last two novels. He died in 1967, already forgotten by readers and critics alike.


Blake, Casey. "Waldo Frank." Dictionary of Literary Biography: Modern American Critics, 1920-1955. Gregory S. Jay, Ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1988.

Eckley, Wilton. "Waldo Frank." Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Novelists, 1910-1945. James J. Martine, ed. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981.

Scope and Content Note

Spanning the years 1922 to 1965, the papers of American author Waldo Frank comprise .6 linear feet (78 items) of letters, essays, lectures, poems, photographs and ephemera. Most of the items are related to his career as a social historian and political activist.

The collection is divided into four series: Letters to Waldo Frank, 1932-1959; Writings by Waldo Frank, 1942; Photographs and Ephemera, [n.d.]; and Writings by Others.

Perhaps most interesting in this collection are Waldo Frank's writings, which include a series of lectures Frank delivered in Latin America in 1942. In April of 1941, Frank turned down the State Department's offer of four thousand dollars to lecture in South America against Fascism. However, a flood of letters from his Latin American friends and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor convinced him to accept the position as an unofficial representative of the United States Government. From mid-April to October of 1942, he lectured extensively in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Peru, and Columbia in an effort to combat Fascist propaganda. His efforts received both praise and criticism. On August 1, the Argentine government declared him persona non grata, and he was attacked in his apartment in Buenos Aires the following day. Frank landed in the hospital as well as on the front page of the New York Times. The publicity he received from the lectures and subsequent attack inspired him to publish the lectures under the title Ustedes y nostros: Nuevo mensaje a Ibero-America. Five of the seven lectures may be found in this collection.

In the first lecture, La Guerra que esta debajo de la guerra, Frank urged Latin Americans to stand up for themselves against Fascism, an argument taken one step further in his second lecture, Ustedes y Nostros. Here, he predicted that if the South Americans could rid themselves of Facsism, a new world would emerge, a culturally and artistically superior world which he considered the destiny of the Americas. The third and fourth lectures were united under the common title, Los dos Caminos. The first part, Hacia la derrota del hombre, targeted the youth of South America. Frank warned them against joining Fascists gangs and argued that they should align themselves not with the Left or the Right, but with humanity. He urged them to create what he called the "City of Man." The fourth lecture, Hacia el destino humano, is more spiritual than the others, and in this one Frank urged Latin Americans to defeat Fascism while simultaneously attempting to become whole persons. At the end of the speech, he asked the people if their silence was one of death or rebirth. The fifth lecture, Los Elementos del nuevo mundo en los Estados unidos, is a discussion of the United States government's interest in Latin America. These lectures would be of particular interest to students of Latin American history as well as those interested in analyzing the role of the United States in early to mid-twentieth century international affairs.

Note: The University of Delaware Library also houses the library of Waldo Frank which may be located by using the following keyword search in DELCAT: k = waldo frank library.

Series Outline

I.  Letters to Waldo Frank, 1932 - 1959  
II.  Writings by Waldo Frank, 1942
III.  Photographs and Ephemera
IV.  Writings by Others, [n.d.]

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1         Series I.  Letters to Waldo Frank, 1932-1959.
               All letters in this series were written in Spanish and addressed to Waldo
               Frank unless otherwise noted. 

     F1   Alegria, Ciro (1909-1967)  (1 item)
          1936 April 21  TLS  1p

     F2   Augusto Garcez, Jose  (3 items)
          1954 April 1   TLS  1p
          1954 April 1   TLS  1p  to Machado Bettencourt
          [n.d.]    ALS  2p  to Machado Bettencourt

     F3   Barcia Trelles, Camilo  (1 item)
          [n.d.]    TD   1p

     F4   de Gangotena y Jijon, C.  (2 items)
          1925 August 8       TD   2p
          1 card labelled "C. de Gangotena y Jijon"

     F5   Figueres Jose  (2 items)
          1956 June 27   TLS  5p
          1956 August 17 XC   1p
          Note: These letters are written in English.

     F6   Gonzalez Climent, Anselmo  (2 items)
          [n.d.]    TLS  1p
          1 card labelled "Anselmo Gonzalez Climent / Buenos Aires / Rep. Argentina"

     F7   Gregorio, Alfredo L.  (1 item)
          1942 June 3    ALS  2p

     F8   Guirior, Ivan  (1 item)
          [n.d.]    CLS  1p

     F9   Krongold, Max  (1 item)
          1954 September 6    ALS  1p

     F10  Melendez, Concha (1904- )  (1 item)
          1935 July 30   ALS  2p

     F11  Rodriguez, Augusto  (1 item)
          1965 July 14   ALS  2p
          Note: This letter is written in English.

     F12  Silva Herzog, Jesus  (1 item)
          1949 October 19     TLS  1p

     F13  Toner-Dioseco, A.  (1 item)
          1942 January 10     TLS  1p
          Note: This letter is written in English and inscribed, "I would very much like to
          have your criticism on the whole work if you are kind enough to write to me some

     F14  Tooker, F.W.  (1 item)
          1922 April 24  AD   1p
          Note: This is a bill for the construction of two bookcases.

     F15  Vasconcelos, Jose (1882-1959)  (1 item)
          1959 June 4    TLS  1p

     F16  Duell, Sloan, and Pearce, Inc.  (1 item)
          [n.d.]    ALS 1p

     F17  Houghton, Mifflin Co.  (1 item)
          1954 March 11  ALS  1p

     F18  Revista de Avance  (1 item)
          [n.d.]    TLS  2p.

     F19  Unidentified letters (2 items)
          [n.d.]    ACS  1p  
          1959 May 21    ALS  1p

1         Series II. Writings by Waldo Frank, [n.d.]
               The first four folders in this series contain five of the seven lectures Frank
               delivered during his Latin American tour from mid-April to October of
               1942.  All five of the lectures were eventually published under the title
               Ustedes y Nostros: Nuevo mensaje a Ibero-America.  The last two folders
               also contain lectures, and, though not delivered during the 1942 tour, they
               are also written on the subject of Latin American peace.

      F20 La Guerra debajo de la guerra, 1942
          Ts   18p
          Note: There are holograph corrections throughout.

     F21  Ustedes y nostros, [n.d.]
          Ts   15p
          Note: There are holograph corrections throughout.

     F22  Los dos Caminos, [n.d.]  (2 items)
          I. Hacia la derrota del hombre
          Ts   22p

          II. Hacia el destino humano 
          TsS  21p
          Note: There are holograph corrections throughout.

     F23  Los Elementos del Nuevo Mondo en los Estados Unidos, [n.d.]
          Ts   20p
          Note: There are holograph corrections throughout.

     F24  Discurso, [n.d.]
          TS   7p
          Note: There are holograph corrections throughout.
    F25  The Pattern of Peru, [n.d]
          AS   3p
          Note: This manuscript is written in English.

1    Series III.  Photographs and Ephemera, 1934-1957

     F26  Photographs of the opening of the Agrobiological Institute, 1957 (6 items)
          One of the five photographs of the opening celebration is inscribed: "Ceremony:
          opening of Agrobiological Institute / Uruapau, Michoacau - March  57 / at my
          right: David France Rodriguez, / Governor of Michoacau / at Gov's right: dr.
          Roberto Reyes Perez, / Director of Institute."  Also included in this folder is a
          photograph of an unidentified woman, possibly Frank's second wife, Alma

     F27  Photograph, Waldo Frank, Renato Almeida, and Alfonso Reyes, 1934 (1 item)
          Alfonso Reyes was Mexico's ambassador to Brazil at the time of this photograph.
          The photograph is inscribed with their names and the date, "8 Marzo 1934."

     F28  Photograph, Victoria Ocampo, 1934 (1 item)
          A famous, wealthy Argentine woman, her ancestors were conquistadores from
          Spain and Portugal who had aquired large haciendas in Buenos Aires.  Hoping to
          transform Buenos Aires into a cultural center, she invited writers, artists, and
          musicians and often financed their travels.  Frank met her on one of his trips to
          Argentina in 1929.  The photograph is inscribed, "For Alma / Hoping to see her
          soon / Victoria / March 1934 / Buenos Aires."  Alma Magoon was Frank's second

     F29  Ephemera  (22 items)
          Includes calling cards, advertisements, a facsimile of an 1822 letter from Simon
          Bolivar, a hand-drawn map of Boulivar, Soublette, and Morales inscribed, "Senor
          Waldo Frank / su amigo J. Lecuna / 1948," etc.

2    Series IV.  Writings by Others
     F30  Baralt, Rafael Maria, Idilios, 1958     
     F31  Clemens, Cyril.  Mark Twain's Religion.  Webster Grove, Mo: International Mark 
          Twain Society, 1935.
          Note: This article is written in English and is inscribed, "To Waldo Frank/ the
          American Montaigne with the author's homage/ Cyril Clemens/ July 1937"

     F32  De Lanux, Pierre.  "Les Francais et l'exigence de liberte."  France-Canada. 
          August 1943
          Note: This article is written in French.

     F33  Del Rio,  Angel.  "Poet in New York: Twenty-five Years After."  reprinted from
          Lorca, Frederico Garcia.  Poet in New York.  New York: Grove Press, 1955.
          Note: This essay is inscribed, "A Waldo Frank con un recuerdo de un viejo
          admirador y amigo, Angel del Rio."

     F34  Miranda, Marcial Mora.  Ruptura: Discurso y declaraciones a favor de las
          Democracias. 1942
          Note: This essay is inscribed, "Para Waldo Frank, en testimonio de admiracion y
          simpatia, Marcial Mora M.  Sept. 1942."

     F35  Narvaez, Carlos Lopez.  "Boliva, Hombre de Letras." 1961
     F36  Pedroni, Jose.  Saludo A Waldo Frank.  1942
          TsS  3p.
          Note: This poem is written in Spanish but inscribed in Spanish and English, "Read
          at Santa Fe Author's Lunch to W.F. / Esperanza, 17 Junio 1942."

     F37  Pritt, D.N.  The Case of Morton Sobell.

     F38  Vivanco, Carlos A.  La Gratitud del Ecuador al Libertador Simon Bolivar:
          Estudio Historico.  Quito-Ecuador: Escuela tipografica salesiana, 1931.
     F39  "Exposicion de las obras de Jaime Dvor, Cesar Moro, Waldo Parraguez, Gabriela
          Rivadeneira, Carlos Sotomayor, Maria Valencia."  1935
          Note: This collection of short essays is inscribed, "To Waldo Frank / Cesar Moro /
          Lima 1936."
     F40  Testamento de Vincente Rocafuerte, [n.d.]

     F41  Vincente Huidobro O El Obispo Embotellado, 1936

     F42  Alfonso Reyes y Su Jubileo Literario, 1955

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