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Upton Sinclair Letters

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 12 Jan 2015

Biographical History

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American author, best known for his novels exposing corruption and poor social, economic and working conditions. His 1906 novel The Jungle led to reforms in the American meat-packing industry, including passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. He ran twice for Congress on the Socialist Party candidate, unsuccessfully, and was the Democratic nominee for Governor of California in 1934. The campaign captured a great deal of attention; conservatives portrayed Sinclair as a Communist and circulated quotes from his novels taken out of context in an attempt to prove that he was an enemy of military veterans, lawyers, businessmen, the Knights of Columbus, universities, Christianity, and the Boy Scouts, among other things. He was defeated by his opponent, Frank F. Merriam. The campaign is notable for being one of the first to employ mass media techniques.

Melville Kress was a self-educated factory worker who took an interest In Upton Sinclair’s writings. The two corresponded regularly, and when Sinclair began writing his eleven-volume series of historical novels regarding the years leading up to World War II, he asked Kress to review each chapter.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Upton Sinclair Letters consists of twenty signed typescript letters from Upton Sinclair to Melville Kress concerning literary matters, primarily Sinclair's "World's End" series of historical novels. The collection does not include any letters from Kress.

Arrangement of the Collection



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


Kress, Melville, 1906-1998.
Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968.


American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American -- 20th century.
World War, 1939-1945 -- Fiction.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Upton Sinclair Letters,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2015.

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