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Floyd Dell Letters

A description of the items at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 8 Feb 2007

Biographical History

Floyd Dell was a radical American writer. A high school drop-out whose family poverty led him to join the Socialist Party at age 16, he worked as a cub reporter for the Davenport Times and then for the Chicago Evening Post. Eventually he became editor of the latter's weekly "Literary Review" section, a position he used to promote the work of writers such as Frank Norris, Jack London, Charles Edward Russell, David Graham Phillips, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser and Stephen Crane. In 1914 he joined the editorial staff of the radical journal The Masses, recruiting authors such as Sherwood Anderson and Carl Sandburg. As a result of The Masses' public opposition to World War I, the United States government brought charges under the Espionage Act; two trials failed to convict any of the staff but The Masses was forced to cease production. Most of the staff, including Dell, went on to publish The Liberator, very similar to The Masses. In addition to his editorial work, Dell wrote plays, novels, criticism, and non-fiction and published an autobiography.

Jeannette Derby was an American radical poet. She was a frequent contributor to the bohemian periodical Pagan and her collection of poetry entitled Rigadoon was published in 1933 by Moss and Kamin (New York).

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The collection consists of seven letters from Dell to Derby. Several include comments on poems Derby had submitted; one includes two verses of a song, which was later quoted in Dell's Love in Greenwich Village. Two are dated July 1919, the remainder are undated.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has in its Rare Books collection a copy of Derby's Rigadoon as well as a nearly complete run of The Liberator.

Subject Headings


Dell, Floyd, 1887-1969
Derby, Jeannette

Associated Titles

Liberator (New York, N.Y. : 1918)

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Floyd Dell Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Martin Kamin, 1961.

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