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Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection

Finding aid created by Miriam B. Spectre
Copyright 1998 by the Yale University Library.


According to information gleaned from correspondence in this collection, most of these materials were in Eugene O'Neill, Jr.'s house at the time of his death. Elsie and Frank S. Meyer, who were friends and neighbors of O'Neill, Jr. in Woodstock, New York, sorted through his belongings and gave some of his papers to his mother, Kathleen Pitt-Smith, some to his Yale classmate and friend, Norman Holmes Pearson, and some to his life-long friend, Lois Williams Bry; in addition, the Meyers themselves kept some of the papers. O'Neill, Jr.'s papers were later reunited when they were given to the library by the Meyers, Pearson, and Pitt-Smith; some of the papers were also purchased from Pitt-Smith. (See also the Lois Williams Bry Collection of Eugene O'Neill, Jr., YCAL MSS 125.) There are also some materials in this collection that were gifts and purchases from other sources. Source information is recorded on each folder.


The Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.


Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


This collection is open for research. Restricted Fragile in box 14 may only be consulted with permission of the appropriate curator. Preservation photocopies or photographic prints for reference use have been substituted in the main files.


Historically, the Eugene O'Neill Papers at Beinecke were comprised of a number of accessions unrelated by provenance and classified as Za O'Neill. These materials were processed between 1997 and 1998; at that time, they were separated by provenance into four collections: Eugene O'Neill Papers (YCAL MSS 123); Eugene O'Neill Collection (YCAL MSS 124); Agnes Boulton Collection of Eugene O'Neill (YCAL MSS 122); and Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection (YCAL MSS 126).

EUGENE O'NEILL, JR. (1910-1950)

Eugene O'Neill, Jr., classicist and son of the dramatist Eugene O'Neill and his first wife, Kathleen Jenkins, was born on 5 May 1910 in New York City. Jenkins and O'Neill had married on 2 October 1909; later that month, O'Neill went to Honduras on a gold prospecting trip. Although he returned to New York in March 1910, O'Neill and Jenkins separated, and O'Neill did not meet his son until a number of years later, when O'Neill, Jr. was eleven or twelve. O'Neill and Jenkins divorced in 1912, and Jenkins was remarried in 1915, to George Pitt-Smith (who already had a son, George, Jr.).

O'Neill, Jr. attended New York public schools and the Horace Mann School, and received his B.A. from Yale University in 1932. He won many awards while an undergraduate at Yale, including the Winthrop Prize for knowledge of Greek and Latin poetry, the Jacob Cooper Prize in Greek philosophy, the Noyes-Cutter Prize for translating biblical Greek, the Soldiers Memorial Foote Fellowship for classical research (all four years), and the Berkeley scholarship for classical Greek. O'Neill, Jr. was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa and of Skull and Bones, and he served as the Ivy Laureate at his commencement.

O'Neill, Jr. began his graduate studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany, where he studies classics from 1932 to 1933. While abroad, he also traveled in Iceland, Norway, and the Netherlands. He returned to Yale to complete his studies and received the Ph.D. in 1936. That same year, he was appointed instructor in classics at Yale.

In 1941, O'Neill, Jr. he rose to the rank of assistant professor. From 1942 to 1943, he took time off from teaching to assist in the war effort. He worked at the Greist Manufacturing Company, an anti-aircraft gun parts factory, and then at the American Steel & Wire Company, and in 1943 was drafted by the army but then rejected because of a childhood injury. That fall, he returned to his post at Yale, spending half of his time in the Department of Classics and the other half teaching English to Navy V-12 students.

In May 1944, while continuing his full-time teaching at Yale, O'Neill, Jr. also began working full-time as a radio announcer at WTIC in Hartford, Connecticut. That fall, he moved to New York City, taking the semester off from Yale to devote himself to his radio work. He returned to teaching at Yale in the spring of 1945, but he resided in New York City and continued his work in radio. In the summer of 1945, he added to his workload a session of teaching at Sarah Lawrence College.

In the fall of 1945, O'Neill, Jr. took two years' leave of absence from Yale to devote himself entirely to radio, and in July 1947 ended his association with Yale, though not with teaching. During the academic year of 1947-1948, he taught at Princeton University and at the New School for Social Research. From the fall of 1948 until his death, he taught at the New School and at Fairleigh Dickinson College while continuing his work in radio.

O'Neill, Jr. was married three times. His first wife was Mary Elizabeth Greene ("Betty"), whom he married on 15 June 1931 while an undergraduate student at Yale. He and Betty were divorced in April 1937, and on 25 May, O'Neill, Jr. married Janet Hunter Longley, who was the daughter of a Yale mathematics professor; they were divorced in the summer of 1938. On 3 July 1939, O'Neill, Jr. married Sally (Hayward?), whose mother, Marjorie F. Hayward, was the curator at the Pardee Morris House in New Haven, Connecticut. During that summer, he and Sally visited Eugene O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill at Tao House in California, as well O'Neill, Jr.'s childhood friend, Lois Williams Bry and her family in Ennis, Montana. In April 1944, Sally left O'Neill, Jr. and moved to New York City. He himself moved to New York City in the fall. Four years later, in the summer of 1948, O'Neill, Jr. moved to Woodstock, New York with the art agent Ruth Reade Lander. He increasingly relied on alcohol, and his relationships with others became more difficult. O'Neill, Jr. committed suicide on 25 September 1950 in Woodstock, New York.

In addition to published articles (on Greek metrics and Greek drama) and reviews, O'Neill, Jr. edited with Whitney J. Oates The Complete Greek Drama: All the Extant Tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, and the Comedies of Aristophanes and Menander, in a Variety of Translations, which was published in 1938. Some of his radio credits include the programs "Invitation to Learning" and the "Author Meets the Critic." He also recorded books for the blind.


The Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Collection contains correspondence, writings of Eugene O'Neill, Jr., legal documents, course materials, ephemera, and photographs. The dates of the collection span the years 1862 to 1964, but the bulk of the material is from 1932 to 1950. The collection is housed in fourteen boxes and is organized into four series: Correspondence, Writings, Personal Papers, and Photographs.

Series I, Correspondence, is organized into two subseries: Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Correspondence, and Correspondence Regarding Eugene O'Neill, Jr.'s Estate. The Eugene O'Neill, Jr. Correspondence mainly contains letters to O'Neill, Jr., although there are some carbons of letters from him. Most of the correspondence is of a professional nature, relating to his work in classical studies and in radio. There is some personal correspondence, however, including many letters from his father, Eugene O'Neill, from 1928 to 1950 (folders 26-35). There is also correspondence with Barbara Burton (Agnes Boulton's daughter), Mary Elizabeth Greene (O'Neill, Jr.'s first wife), Elsie and Frank S. Meyer (friends and neighbors of O'Neill, Jr. in Woodstock, New York), and Norman Holmes Pearson (O'Neill, Jr.'s Yale classmate and friend). The subseries is arranged alphabetically.

Correspondence Regarding Eugene O'Neill, Jr.'s Estate relates to O'Neill, Jr.'s funeral and the settlement of his estate. Eugene O'Neill paid for the funeral expenses through his lawyer, Winfield E. Aronberg. Some of the correspondence in this series is between Aronberg and other people (including Pitt-Smith's lawyer, Nathaniel J. Palzer) regarding these expenses. There is also correspondence between Frank S. Meyer and other people about funeral-related expenses and about the disposition of O'Neill, Jr.'s belongings.

Series II, Writings, is organized into six subseries: Articles, Lectures, Poems, Reviews, Other Writings, and Writings of Others. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. Articles contains drafts and printed versions of articles by O'Neill, Jr. mainly on topics in the field of classical studies. Lectures contains holograph and typescript drafts of notes for lectures, also mainly on topics in the field of classical studies. The files include lectures that O'Neill, Jr. delivered at the American Philological Association, the Classical Club of Yale University, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. There is also a printed version of his 1947 commencement address at Connecticut College. Poems mainly contains draft versions of poems by O'Neill, Jr. The published poems are mostly early works that appeared in The Horace Mann Quarterly; there is one published poem from The New Yorker in 1950.

Reviews contains clippings as well as reprints of reviews by O'Neill, Jr. of books in classics. Many are inscribed by O'Neill, Jr. to friends and relatives. Other Writings contains a play, two short stories, letters to the editor of The Key Reporter and PM, O'Neill, Jr.'s successful submission for the Noyes-Cutter Prize as an undergraduate at Yale University, a research paper, a transcript from a 1944 radio discussion on the talmud, and some notes. Writings of Others contains Thomas Cutt's 1936 dissertation, inscribed to O'Neill, Jr.; a 1923 burlesque play by O'Neill's Jr.'s teacher at the Horace Mann School, Clifton Joseph Furness; and two printed copies (from 1925 and 1926) of The Horace Mann Quarterly.

Series III, Personal Papers, is organized into three subseries: Legal Materials, University Study and Teaching, and Other. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically. Legal Materials contains a 1912 document regarding Eugene O'Neill's divorce from Kathleen Pitt-Smith; O'Neill, Jr.'s 1948 lease for a house in Woodstock, New York; receipts for his bank loans from 1947 to 1949; and his 1947 will. University Study and Teaching contains materials regarding O'Neill, Jr.'s undergraduate and graduate studies at Yale University, including commencement programs, grade reports, and certificates for awards that he received. There are also materials from 1932 to 1933 regarding his graduate study in Germany at Universitaet Freiburg im Breisgau, as well as syllabi and examinations from courses that O'Neill, Jr. taught at Yale University and at the New School for Social Research. Other contains various emphemera, including O'Neill, Jr.'s address book; some autobiographical notes; two photostats of his birth certificate; clippings about him and other topics; a typed list (probably made by Elsie Meyer) of inscriptions to him from his father; a list of people who received items from his estate; materials relating to the Pardee Morris House; a scrapbook of clippings and photographs, mostly relating to O'Neill, Jr.'s radio career, from 1945 to 1946; and his wallet, containing various identification cards.

Series IV, Photographs, is organized into five subseries: Family, Other People, Places, Albums, and Other. Each subseries is arranged alphabetically and then chronologically. In addition to photographic prints, there are negatives in this collection (though stored separately). In the case of negatives for which there was no corresponding print, the Library had one copy print made; this information is specified after the folder title.

Family contains photographs of O'Neill, Jr.'s maternal great-grandfather, Henry S. Camblas; his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Greene; his maternal grandmother, Kate Camblas Jenkins; his stepmother, Carlotta Monterey O'Neill; his father, Eugene O'Neill; his third wife, Sally O'Neill; his stepbrother, George Pitt-Smith, Jr.; and his mother, Kathleen Pitt-Smith. There are also many photographs of O'Neill, Jr. himself, from 1922 until the late 1940s. Other People contains photographs of O'Neill, Jr.'s friend, Lois Williams Bry, her husband, and her children; the Coleman Brothers musicians; and the art agent Ruth Reade Lander. There are a few unidentified people. Places contains photographs of Germany, the Netherlands, and Iceland from O'Neill, Jr.'s time in graduate school, from 1932 to 1933. There are also photographs of Lois Williams Bry's ranch in Ennis, Montana in 1939; of a boat trip near Northport, New York that O'Neill, Jr. took in the early 1930s; and of the Pardee Morris House.

Albums consists of four albums from the 1920s to 1940. The first, from the 1920s to the 1930s, contains photographs of scenes at a military academy (location undetermined) and around Northport, New York, as well as copies of photographs of Eugene O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill that were sent to O'Neill, Jr. The second and third albums, which are from O'Neill, Jr.'s trip to Europe in 1932-1933 to attend graduate school in Germany, contain views in Germany, Iceland, and the Netherlands. The fourth album is from 1937 to 1940 and contains photographs from O'Neill, Jr.'s visit to the Brys' ranch in Ennis, Montana in 1939, plus earlier photographs with the Brys, from 1937 to 1938. There are also photographs from his visit with Eugene O'Neill and Carlotta Monterey O'Neill at Tao House in 1939, as well as many photographs of cats in New Haven, Connecticut in 1940. Other contains photographs of house cats; of O'Neill, Jr.'s Soldiers Memorial Foote Fellowship certificate, which he received at Yale University in 1932; of animals at a German zoo; and of a drawing of boats.


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