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Charles J. Finger Papers

Correspondence, diaries, and manuscripts, 1893-1987

Manuscript Collection 639



INFORMATION ABOUT CHARLES J. FINGER
 
Charles J. Finger (c. 1867-1941) was an Anglo-American writer of travel and adventure.  Born in Willesden, England, December 25, 1867 (?), he received a middle-class education at King's College, London, and Frankfurt, Germany.  When his parents emigrated to the United States in 1887, Finger remained in England supporting himself by doing odd jobs, and became involved with the Fabian Society of socialists.

In 1890, he joined the crew of a ship for Valparaiso, Chile, but jumped ship at Punta Arenas, Straits of Magellan, in Chile.  From 1890-1895, Finger worked at various jobs from sheepherder to tour guide for the Franco-Russian Ornithological Expedition to Tierra del Fuego in 1893.  Mid-1896 found him in New York, where he stayed with his parents while looking for employment.  Soon he was on a steamer to Galveston, Texas.  There he found a job in San Angelo, Texas, herding sheep; he began writing newspaper articles and became a United States citizen.

In 1898, Finger established the San Angelo Music Conservatory and from 1898 to 1904 he taught lessons and arranged concerts and tours.  At this time, he met Dr. Boyd Cornick, M.D., and his son Philip Cornick, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship.  Finger participated in Dr. Cornick's intellectual circle, gaining notoriety as a free thinker and Fabian Socialist.  During this period, he wrote articles for the San Angelo Standard, Houston Labor Journal, and the magazine Searchlight.  In 1902, he married Eleanor (Nellie) Ferguson, daughter of a sheep rancher.  In September, 1903, their son, Hubert Philip, was born and named in part for Finger's friend, Philip Cornick.

In 1904, the Finger family moved to Alamagordo, New Mexico, where Finger worked for the El Paso and Northeastern Railroad Co., working his way up to general foreman for the railroad.  When the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad Co. of Texas bought the Northeastern, the Alamagordo office closed and Finger was out of a job.

1905 saw Finger in Ripley, Ohio, as auditor of the Ohio River and Columbus Railway Co.   He eventually became a director of the company. Following a merger, Finger went to Columbus, Ohio, as general manager of the consolidated Ohio Southeastern Railroad until 1914, when he returned with his growing family to Ripley, Ohio.  During this time, he continued to read eclectically and to write.  By 1916, the Finger children included Hubert Philip (b. 1903), Julia Louise (Kitty) (b. 1904), Charles Ferguson, (b. 1907), Helen Grace (b. 1913), and Herbert Eric (b. 1915).

In 1916, Finger's writings came to the attention of William Reedy, founder of the liberal St. Louis literary magazine, Reedy's Mirror.  In 1919, Reedy published three of Finger's short stories and hired him to take over Reedy's Mirror while he was on vacation.  Soon after, Reedy died, the magazine folded, and once more Finger was seeking employment.

In 1920, the Finger family settled in Fayetteville, Arkansas.  At first, Finger was considered an outsider, but he was eventually accepted because of his interest in the folklore and adventure lore of the region, which he reflected in his writings.  His country house, Gayeta Lodge, was named for the Spanish, "galleta," (biscuit), for Finger a symbol of hospitality dating from his Patagonian days, and the lodge became a gathering place for artists, writers, and other intellectuals.

From 1920-1935 Finger published almost single-handedly All's Well, or The Mirror Repolished, a literary journal which continued in the tradition of Reedy's Mirror.  From 1933-1940, he was also managing editor for the Bellows-Reeve Company and edited "Answers," a monthly journal devoted to answering queries about children's  literature from readers.

Finger wrote thirty-six books in the last twenty years of his life.  Tales from Silver Lands in 1924 received the Newbery Medal, and Courageous Companions in 1929 won the Longmans Juvenile Fiction Award.  He was primarily a young adult adventure story writer, and much of what he wrote reflected his own exploits in Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia as well as the American southwest.  In addition to adventure tales, Finger wrote twenty-nine volumes for the "Little Blue Books" series, edited and published by E. Haldeman-Julius in Girard, Kansas.  These volumes discuss such diverse topics as the life of Barnum, Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, and Oscar Wilde.

The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, presented an honorary LL. D. to Charles J. Finger in 1932.  In 1944, he was honored posthumously by the Maritime Commission by having the freighter Charles J. Finger named after him.  He died on January 7, 1941 of influenza and a coronary at Gayeta Lodge in Fayetteville.


INFORMATION ABOUT THE COLLECTION
 
The papers consist of correspondence, most of which pertains to Charles J. Finger, and some to his daughter, illustrator Helen Finger Leflar.  Also included are Finger's diaries, notebooks, manuscripts, indexes, and other papers as well as materials by Helen Finger Leflar, Mrs. Charles J. Finger's guest book, clippings, photographs, and film.  The three indexes, prepared by Finger on index cards, comprise an index of his bibliography, and one each on music and literature.

Helen Finger Leflar of Fayetteville, Arkansas, daughter of Charles J. Finger, donated her father's papers to Special Collections on June 5, 1986.

RESTRICTIONS APPLY.  Due to their fragility, the original copies of the diaries in Series 2 are restricted.  Microfilm is available for patron use. The original copy of the 8 mm film in Series 5 is also restricted.  A copy on one-half inch VHS video tape is available for patron use.

Processed by Norma Ortiz-Karp, Special Collections Division, University of Arkansas Libraries, Fayetteville, Arkansas, in September, 1989.
 


CONTENTS OF THE COLLECTION
4 linear feet (11 boxes)

Series 1. Correspondence.  Boxes 1-3.
Series 2. Diaries, Notebooks, Manuscripts, Indexes, and Other Papers.  Boxes 4-6.
Series 3. Clippings.  Box 7.
Series 4. Correspondence and Papers of Helen Finger Leflar and Others.  Boxes 8-9.
   Subseries 1.  Correspondence.
   Subseries 2.  Papers.
Series 5. Photographs and Film.  Box 10.
Series 6. Originals.


Series 1.  Correspondence (Boxes 1-3)

This series contains correspondence reflecting Charles J. Finger's personal as well as literary development.  He was a voracious, interesting, and widely-read correspondent.  Significant correspondents are Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, Philip Cornick, Glenn Ward Dresbach, John Gould Fletcher, James Keddie (See Finger-Keddie correspondence, MC 640), H.L. Mencken, Vance Randolph, William Marion Reedy, Carl Sandburg, George Bernard Shaw, Charlie May Simon Fletcher, George Stirling, Wilbur Stone (see Finger-Stone correspondence, MC 449), and Sara Teasdale Filsinger.
 
Box 1

 1. May 25, 1893 - Dec 22, 1901.
 2. Jan 8, 1902 - Sept 23, 1902.
 3. Oct 12, 1902 - Feb 2, 1903.
 4. Feb. 15, 1903 - Feb 16, 1904.
 5. Feb. 27, 1904 - June 4, 1904.
 6. June 14, 1904 - Apr 26, 1905.
 7. May 2, 1905 - Nov 4, 1905.
 8. Feb 22, 1906 - Sept 30, 1907.
 9. Jan 14, 1908 - Jan 20, 1911.
 10. Mar 7, 1911 - Apr. 19, 1911.
 11. July 24, 1911-1913.
 12. Feb 14, 1916 - July 12, 1919.
 13. July 28, 1919 - ca. 1919.

Box 2

 1. Jan 2, 1920 - Jan 31, 1920.
 2. Feb 5, 1920 - May 28, 1920.
 3. July 7, 1920 - Nov 29, 1920.
 4. Feb 22, 1921 - Nov 23, 1921.
 5. Jan 7, 1922 - Oct 9, 1923.
 6. Oct 22, 1923 - Sept 22, 1925.
 7. Sept 23, 1925 - Aug 13, 1926.
 8. Aug 22, 1926 - Dec 24, 1926.
 9. Dec 25, 1926 - Feb 19, 1927.
 10. Feb 21, 1927 - Dec 31, 1927.
 11. Jan 3, 1928 - Feb 25, 1929.
 12. Mar 1, 1929-1929.
 13. Apr 11, 1930 - Oct 3, 1931.
 14. Nov 24, 1931 - June 28, 1933.
 15. July 2, 1933 - May 29, 1934.

Box 3

 1. Sept 28, 1934 - Nov 22, 1935.
 2. Jan 17, 1936 - June 8, 1936.
 3. June 21, 1936 - Dec 20, 1937.
 4. Jan 1, 1938 - Mar 18, 1939.
 5. Mar 24, 1939 - Dec 28, 1939.
 6. Jan 7, 1940 - July 28, 1940.
 7. Aug 13, 1940 - Sept 16, 1940.
 8. Sept 17, 1940 - May 3, 1947.
 9. Letters, n.d.
 10. Letters fragments, n.d.


Series 2.  Diaries, Notebooks, Manuscripts, Indexes, and Other Papers. (Boxes 4-6)
 
This series contains diaries (1890-1897, 1938); notebooks (1898, n.d.); book reviews by Charles J. Finger; reviews of Finger's autobiography, Seven Horizons; indexes; and other papers.

Due to their fragility, the original copies of the diaries in Series 2 are restricted.  Microfilm is available for patron use.

Box 4

 1. Diary, 1890.
 2. Diary, 1890-1891.
 3. Diary, 1896.
 4. Diary fragments, 1890-1897, 1938.
 5. Notebook, 1898.
 6. Notebook, n.d.
 7. Notebook fragments, n.d.
 8. Manuscripts: "How Lazy Sam Got His Rise," Aug 26, 1897; and introduction to Seven Horizons, Jan 1, 1930.
 9. Manuscripts: "Machines Big and Little - and Technocracy," Jan 12, 1933; "The Day," spring, 1937; "In Days When We Read Jules Verne...," 1938-1939(?).
 10. Manuscripts: "Lucius to His Friend Theonas, Many Greetings," n.d.; "Tales of a Man Who Tore Up A Book," n.d.; "Julio's Visit," n.d.;  "Old George-Traveler," n.d.; "A Guatemalan Tale," n.d.
 11. Manuscripts: "Notes on a Curious Report," n.d.; "The Tooth," n.d.; "Autobiographical," n.d.
 12. Manuscripts: "Biography of Men Mentioned in Astoria Expedition," n.d.; part of a comic operetta, and other manuscript fragments.

Box 5

 1. Book reviews, 1930, 1931, 1940, and n.d.
 2. Book reviews of Seven Horizons, 1930, and n.d.
 3. Illustrations and prints, some of which were used in Finger's books.
 4. Papers and programs by and about Finger, 1904, 1916, 1935-1944, and n.d.
 5. Immigration landing card, certificate, and royalty receipts, 1933-1937, 1955, and n.d.

Box 6

 1. Index 1: Bibliography of the opus of Charles J. Finger.
 2. Index 2: Bibliography of writers and some of their works.
 3. Index 3: Bibliography of composers and some of their works.


Series 3.  Clippings (Box 7)
 
Box 7

 1. Clippings, July 29, 1920-June 8, 1980. (1 of 2)
 2. Clippings, July 29, 1920-June 8, 1980. (2 of 2)
 3. Clippings, n.d.
 4. Clippings, n.d.


Series 4.  Correspondence and Papers of Helen Finger Leflar and Others. (Boxes 8-9)
 
Subseries 1.  Correspondence.

This subseries contains letters to Leflar as illustrator of children's books, condolences for her father's death, letters for permission to use Charles J. Finger's literary works, and royalties from the opus of Charles J. Finger.  Significant correspondents include Katherine Murdoch Davis, Charles J. Finger (referred to in the correspondence as "Dad"), Lewis Gannett, Rosa Zagnoni Marinoni, Charlie May Simon Fletcher, and Wilbur Stone (see Finger-Stone correspondence, MC 449).

Box 8

 1. 1930-1931 - Jan 2, 1941.
 2. Jan 7, 1941 - Jan 13, 1941.
 3. Jan 14, 1941 - Jan 28, 1941.
 4. Feb 4, 1941 - Feb 25, 1941.
 5. Mar 10, 1941-1941.
 6. Apr 3, 1942 - Dec 14, 1943.
 7. Jan 1, 1944 - Jan 5, 1966.
 8. Feb 1, 1966 - Dec 2, 1966.
 9. Feb 10, 1967 - Dec 18, 1967.
 10. Jan 18, 1968 - June 27, 1969.
 11. Oct 15, 1969 - Aug 5, 1971.
 12. Dec 28, 1973 - May 30, 1978.
 13. June 24, 1978 - Feb 13, 1987.
 14. Letters, n.d.
 15. Finger family, Apr 15, 1913 - Feb 15, 1966.
 16. Other, July 6, 1920 - Apr 12, 1941.
 

Subseries 2.  Papers.

This subseries contains a short autobiography and handwritten magazine as well as illustrations by Helen Finger Leflar. In addition, there is the guest book of Nellie B. Finger (Mrs. Charles J. Finger); and manuscripts by Grace Ferguson, a relative of Nellie B. Finger; Charlie May Simon, Arkansas writer; Wendy T. McElheny, a University of Arkansas graduate student; and R.B. Cunninghame Graham, British writer and correspondent of Charles J. Finger.

Box 9

 1. Helen Finger's autobiography, May 23, 1930.
 2. "The Pied Piper for Aug.," ca. 1920's.
 3. Illustrations by Helen Finger (1 of 2).
 4. Illustrations by Helen Finger (2 of 2)
 5. Nellie B. Finger's (Mrs. Charles J. Finger) guest book, 1925.
 6. Manuscripts by Grace Ferguson, 1936; Charlie May Simon, 1942; Wendy T. McElheny, n.d.; and R.B. Cunninghame Graham, n.d.


Series 5.  Photographs and Film (Box 10)

The original copy of the 8mm film in series 5 is also restricted.  A copy on one-half inch VHS video-tape is available for patron use.

Box 10

 Photographs 1-8: Charles J. Finger, ca. 1900-1938.
 Photograph  9. Charles J. Finger with family members in New York City; Finger is second row center, 1896.
 Photographs 10-15: Charles J. Finger with his children, 1907-1940.
 Photographs 16-24: Children of Charles J. Finger, ca. 1915-1971.
 Photographs 25-30: Charles J. Finger with others, 1902-1937.
 Photographs 31-39: Relatives of Charles J. Finger, 1901, and n.d.
 Photographs 40-41: Gayeta Lodge and grounds, 1920-1921.
 Photographs 42: Finger's studio at the St. Angelo Conservatory, Texas, ca. 1902.
 Photograph 43: Sheep dipping in Ozona, Texas with explanation by Finger on verso, ca. 1898.
 Photographs 44-49: Tierra del Fuego and Patagonia, ca. 1890s.
 Photographs 50-57: Signed photographs from friends, 1925, 1926, and n.d.
 Photograph 58: John Newbery Medal for children's literature, bestowed on Finger in 1924.
 Photographs 59-60: J.H. Field photographs taken after the Farmington tornado, 1924.
 Photographs 61-63: Robert Frost and Fred Black, 1927; death mask of Jack London, n.d.; and W.H. Hudson, n.d.
 Photographs 64-76: Ripley, Ohio, where Finger worked for the railroad, ca. 1913.
 Photographs 77-87: Vistas of the Andes, Patagonia, the American southwest, and Lake Walden, 1933, and n.d.
 Film (Kodak Eight): Christmas at Gayeta Lodge, 1940.


Series 6.  Original (Box 11)

Box 11

 1. Correspondence: Charles J. Finger, May 25, 1893 - Mar 24, 1939.
 2. Correspondence: Charles J. Finger, Apr 26, 1939 - Oct 10, 1940.
 3. Correspondence: Helen Finger Leflar, Jan 16, 1970.
 4. Diary, 1890.
 5. Diary, 1890-1891.
 6. Diary, 1896.
 7. Diary fragments, 1890-1897, 1938.

 Photograph 43: Sheep dipping in Ozona, Texas with explanation by Finger on the verso, ca. 1898.
 Photograph 63: W.H. Hudson, n.d.
 
 Film (Kodak Eight): Christmas at Gayeta Lodge, 1940.



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