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John Mayfield Collection Relating to David Lamson

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: DSA
Date: 31 May 2019

Biographical History

David Lamson (1902-1975), was a writer best known for being tried, convicted, and sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. Though sent to Death Row for his conviction, Lamson was later retried due to challenges to the prosecution's case, which was based entirely on circumstantial evidence. Lamson's new trial resulted in a hung jury, and was followed by third and fourth trials, with the fourth again resulting in a hung jury. Due to their inability to convict Lamson, the State of California dropped their case in 1936 and Lamson was free for the remainder of his life.

Before the time of the murder, Lamson was employed by Stanford University Press, and his literary output grew thereafter. While imprisoned, Lamson wrote We Who Are about to Die (1935), about his and his fellow prisoners' experiences on Death Row. After being freed, he became a published writer of short fiction for the Saturday Evening Post, with the story "Oh, Once in my Saddle. . . " being the first, in 1938.

John S. Mayfield (1804-1983) was a collector of manuscripts who later became a curator of rare books at Syracuse University.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The John Mayfield Collection Relating to David Lamson consists of correspondence, printed material, and writings.

Correspondence chiefly concerns John Mayfield's request of an original David Lamson manuscript from The Saturday Evening Post, 1938.

Printed Material consists of two items, being a clipping from Lamson's first murder trial, and a description of Lamson's book We Who Are about to Die.

Writings includes a typescript of Lamson's story, "Oh, Once in my Saddle. . ." published in The Saturday Evening Post, April 30, 1938.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence arranged chronologically by correspondent, other items in no particular order.


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.

Subject Headings


Lamson, David.
Mayfield, John S., 1904-1983.
Stout, Wesley Winans, 1890-

Corporate Bodies

Saturday evening post.


Authors, American.
Murder -- California.
Short stories.
Trials (Murder) -- California.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

John Mayfield Collection Relating to David Lamson,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information


Table of Contents


Printed Material