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Neala Schleuning - Meridel Le Sueur collection

Identifier: MSS 0488

Scope and Contents

The Neala Schleuning - Meridel Le Sueur Collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, published books, journals, periodicals, news clippings, photographs, artwork, audio tapes, video tapes, research materials and notes, and ephemera from Schleuning's research and archival collection, most of which was used toward her 1978 dissertation and subsequent book on the American writer Meridel Le Sueur, America, Song We Sang Without Knowing: The Life and Ideas of Meridel Le Sueur (1983). Material in the collection spans the dates 1930 to 1997, comprising 2.3 linear feet and 43 audio cassettes, 10 reel-to-reel tapes, and 2 VHS videotapes. The collection is arranged in five series of material related to Schleuning's scholarly work on and interest in Meridel Le Sueur: I. Neala Schleuning: America: Song We Sang Without Knowing ; II. My People Are My Home ; III. Research and resources; IV. Meridel Le Sueur; and V. Media.

Schleuning's developing friendship with Le Sueur led her to accumulate more materials documenting both Le Sueur's career and Schleuning's own interest in Midwestern literature, feminism, and political activism. Schleuning and Le Sueur maintained a correspondence until Le Sueur's death in 1996, and the collection provides many insights into Le Sueur's literary interests and activities during the 1970s until the end of her life.

Series I. contains a copy of Schleuning's dissertation and miscellaneous working notes. A copy of America: Song We Sang Without Knowing (1983), the published book resulting from the dissertation, is also included.

Series II. includes materials related to the making of a 1976 documentary film by the Twin Cities Women's Film Collective, My People Are My Home . The film is narrated by Le Sueur from a script of her own poetry and prose and also includes some brief interviews. Several drafts of the film's script are included, as well as a VHS video tape of the final film (compare to Series V. F68). Both Schleuning and Le Sueur were members of the collective, and the film was made with Le Sueur's direct cooperation and input. The multiple drafts of scripts in this series bear autograph notes and corrections and provide an indication of how the project was developed.

Series III. comprises correspondence, audio transcriptions, reviews and news clippings, and ephemera that Schleuning used during her work on Le Sueur. The correspondence includes both incoming and outgoing letters between Le Sueur and Schleuning, revealing the progression of Schleuning's scholarly work, as well as the growing friendship between the two women. Other correspondence includes Schleuning's communications with scholars and acquaintances of Le Sueur, such as writer and Anvil editor Jack Conroy, Twin Cities political activist Don Olson, Le Sueur's long-time friend and labor activist Irene Paull (see also IV.C.2 and IV.C.6 for more on Paull), writer and editor Fred Whitehead, and Paula Zimmering. The audio transcripts in this series correspond to the audio tapes in Series V. The transcripts include interviews and conversations between Le Sueur, Schleuning, and others associated with Le Sueur. The content of the tapes cover Le Sueur's thoughts on her writing, the culture of rural America, the feminist and socialist movements in America, and the history of social activism from the 1930s to the 1970s. Schleuning drew from the content of the tapes for her dissertation. The series also includes several posters for readings and appearances by Le Sueur spanning the dates 1977 to 1990. Some of the materials in this series document the revived interest in Le Sueur's work that took place during the 1970s through the 1990s.

Series IV. comprises works composed by Meridel Le Sueur. Included are manuscripts, photocopies of previously published short stories, poems, and essays (many of which have never been reprinted), transcriptions from Le Sueur's journal, transcriptions of interviews conducted by Le Sueur in the 1930s-1950s with various farmers, socialists, and radicals across the Midwest, and published works authored by Le Sueur, including books, broadsides, several small press publications, periodicals, and journals with writings about Le Sueur. Some of the published works have been removed to the general collection. Among the other significant items in this series are excerpts from Le Sueur's journals, several unpublished works in progress (F47-48), a typescript copy of Le Sueur's 1930 novel The Girl (F45), and many early short stories and essays copied from old-left journals and other publications.

Series V. contains photographs, artworks, and audio and video tapes. The series includes over 60 photographs of Le Sueur from the 1970s to the 1990s and more than 90 archival photographs used in the production of the film My People Are My Home . The artworks (in various media) in the series include portraits of Le Sueur. The audio tapes (cassettes and reel-to-reel) contain conversations and interviews with Le Sueur and various friends and associates. The content of the tapes cover Le Sueur's thoughts on her writing, the culture of rural America, the feminist and socialist movements in America, and the history of social activism from the 1930s to the 1970s (some of these tapes are transcribed in Series III.). Two video tapes are also included in the series: the documentary film My People Are My Home and an interview conducted with Le Sueur in 1988.


  • Creation: 1930-2004


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Access Information

This collection contains audiovisual media that has been reformatted. Please contact manuscripts staff for access.

Conditions Governing Use

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections Department, University of Delaware Library,

Meridel Le Sueur

The American writer Meridel Le Sueur (1900-1996) was the author of short stories, poems, a novel, articles, essays, and reportage pieces. The rise of radicalism in the 1960s and the Women's movement in the 1970s brought revitalized attention to Le Sueur's work, and she continued producing new writing and publishing into her nineties. Much of Le Sueur's work remains in print.

Le Sueur was a well-known and respected writer of the political left who published in magazines and journals such as American Mercury , Anvil , Dial , New Masses , New Republic , Scribner's , Story , and Yale Review .

Le Sueur was born on February 22, 1900, in Murray, Iowa; she died November 14, 1996, in Hudson, Wisconsin. She was raised in a climate of social activism: her mother, a college instructor, and her step-father, Arthur Le Sueur, a lawyer and founder of the Industrial Workers of the World, worked to support the socialist ideals that developed in the American Midwest at the beginning of the twentieth century (see Crusaders , Le Sueur's biography of her parents). The Le Sueur family associated with figures such as Big Bill Haywood, Eugene Debs, Lincoln Steffens, and Emma Goldman; and Meridel Le Sueur's writing inherited the spirit of the Socialist movement of the 1920s and 1930s. The stories that Le Sueur published at this time--some of which were anthologized in O. Henry Prize Stories and O'Brien Best Stories --reflect her commitment to Midwestern populist values and feminism.

Le Sueur published consistently until 1947 when she was blacklisted by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In spite of the blacklist, Alfred Knopf continued to publish Le Sueur's children's books, but sales were not enough to provide her with an income and she turned to teaching as one means of supporting herself. Le Sueur described the post-war years as her "dark time" (Coiner 82-3).

Coiner, Constance.Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olson and Meridel Le Sueur.New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. "Le Sueur, Meridel."Contemporary Authors Online.The Gale Group, 2000. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: The Gale Group. 2001. Le Sueur, Meridel.Ripening, Selected works, 1927-1980.Introduction, Elaine Hedges. Old Westbury, NY: The Feminist Press, 1982.

Neala Schleuning

The American educator and writer Neala Schleuning, also known as Neala Janis Schleuning Yount, received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota in 1978 with a dissertation on the life and work of Meridel Le Sueur. Schleuning's association with Le Sueur began in 1973 and continued while Schleuning wrote her dissertation and worked with the Twin Cities Women's Film Collective on the film My People Are My Home (1976).

The film is narrated by Le Sueur from a script of her own poetry and prose, and also includes some brief interviews. In the course of Schleuning's research for both the Film Collective project and her dissertation, she worked directly with Le Sueur, drawing on Le Sueur's journals and other archival materials. Schleuning remained in contact with Le Sueur until the latter's death in 1996.

Schleuning taught American history, Women's Studies, and American Studies, and was involved in higher education administration. She was director of the women's center at Mankato State University (now known as Minnesota State University, Mankato), and assistant director of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. A Fulbright Scholar, she is the author of several books, including America: Song We Sang Without Knowing (1983), Idle Hands and Empty Hearts: Work and Freedom in the United States (1990), Women, Community, and the Hormel Strike of 1985-86 (1994), and To Have and to Hold: the Meaning of Ownership in the United States (1997).

Schleuning, Neala. "Meridel Le Sueur: Toward a New Regionalism."Books at Iowa.Iowa City: University of Iowa Libraries 33 (November 1980): 22-41.


2.3 linear foot

43 audio cassette

10 1/4 inch audio tape : Reel-to-reel tape

2 VHS tape


This collection contains material from Neala Schleuning's research and archival collection, most of which was used toward her 1978 dissertation and subsequent book on the American writer Meridel Le Sueur.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Neala Schleuning, June 2003-February 2004

Related Materials in this Repository

MSS 0409, Meridel Le Sueur papers

GRA 0118, Neala Schleuning poster collection

Materials in other Repositories

Meridel Le Sueur Papers. Minnesota Historical Society.

Materials Cataloged Separately

Additional titles by Meridel Le Sueur are available with imprints in Special Collections.

Second copy of DVD, My People are my Home available in Morris Library Film and Video Collection.

Shelving Summary

  1. Boxes 1-2: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons
  2. Box 3: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize boxes (17 inches)
  3. Boxes 4-5: Shelved in SPEC Media
  4. Removals to SPEC MSS oversize boxes (32 inches)

OCLC Number

Processing Information

Processed by Gerald Cloud, April 2004. Encoded by Jillian Kuzma, January 2009. Updated by Julia Pompetti, November 2010. Additional encoding by Anna Nuzzolese, December 2018.

Finding aid for Neala Schleuning - Meridel La Sueur collection
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Date encoded (2009 January 07)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA