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Dodd, Mead Company archive

Identifier: MSS 0250

Scope and Content Note

The Dodd, Mead and Company Archive consists of two linear feet of material, spanning the dates 1896–1974. The archive is comprised of correspondence, contracts, photographs, wills, probate documents, biographies, drafts, notes, copyright documents, poems, printed programs, ephemera, and clippings. This selection of the company files details the business arrangements between the publisher and various Black American authors, including Arna Bontemps, Benjamin Brawley, Orde Coombs, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, and Alan Lomax (with Raoul Abdul).

Authors included in this collection are Arna Wendell Bontemps, Benjamin Brawley, Orde Coombs, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Alan Lomax, and Raoul Abdul. The files for Bontemps, Coombs, Lomax, and Abdul consist primarily of the permission correspondence and other material related to the various anthologies which these writers compiled and edited for Dodd, Mead.

The Benjamin Brawley and Paul Laurence Dunbar files consists of contracts, correspondence, and copyright documents related to books published for these authors by Dodd, Mead. In the case of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the files include correspondence with various successors to Dunbar’s literary estate as well as three poems written by Dunbar.

The Alice Dunbar-Nelson material is limited to documents related to her book, The Goodness of St. Roque and Other Stories and letters concerning the estate of her husband, Paul Laurence Dunbar.

These files provide insight into the publication process of the several anthologies and books included in this archive. From their correspondence with the editors and from the biographies which they contributed for the anthologies, insights about various Black poets and writers can be gained. In addition, the collection includes publicity files for Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes which provide information about and photographs of the two writers.

The sections of the collection related to Paul Laurence Dunbar detail his publication and financial arrangements with Dodd, Mead through contracts and correspondence. The files also contain documents of copyright for various Dunbar books and information about the expiration of copyright for several items. There is also included significant correspondence regarding the succession of the Dunbar literary estate from the time of his death through the 1960s when Pauline Young (niece of Alice Dunbar-Nelson) was a recipient of royalties.


  • Creation: 1896–1974


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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,

Historical Note

The publisher, Dodd, Mead and Company, was begun in New York City in 1839 as the firm, Taylor and Dodd and continued publishing until 1990.

Founded by Moses Woodruff Dodd and John S. Taylor, the publishing firm of Dodd, Mead & Co. originally published religious books. In 1840 Dodd bought out his partner and established the company as M. W. Dodd. The company was to evolve through two further changes in its name. In 1870, when Dodd’s nephew Edward S. Mead took over the firm, the publisher became Dodd and Mead. In 1876 Bleecker Van Wagenen became a partner and the name was changed to its final form, Dodd, Mead and Company.

Obligations of the World to the Bible, A Series of Lectures to Young Men (1839) was the first book published by Dodd. Although religious works dominated the early publication lists of M. W. Dodd, by the 1870s Frank Dodd, the son of Moses Dodd, had done much to change the emphasis of the publisher to a more general list. Early publications of popular fiction included Martha Finley’s Elsie Dinsmore and Edward P. Roe’s Barriers Burned Away. Edward S. Mead, a partner in Dodd, Mead, was also a writer for the company. He wrote a number of books for children and adults under the pseudonym Richard Markham. Through the 1890s and early 1900s Dodd, Mead and Company expanded publications to include a variety of British and American authors including: G. K. Chesterton, Jerome K. Jerome, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Paul Leicester Ford, George Barr McCutcheon, Hamilton Wright Mabie, and Agatha Christie.

In the late 1890s Dodd, Mead and Company introduced the work of a number of new poets including Robert W. Service, Bliss Carman, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. This archive is comprised of the contracts and correspondence between Dunbar, a prominent Black American poet, and Dodd, Mead. Dunbar’s Lyrics of Lowly Life was published in 1896, followed by Poems of Cabin and Field (1899), Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899), and a novel, The Sport of the Gods (1902).

During the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s Dodd, Mead and Company published a number of anthologies of Negro poetry, folklore, essays, stories, and humor. This archive contains contracts and permission files related to those publications. Some of the anthologies and their editors include: We Speak of Liberators (1970) and What We Must See edited by Orde Coombs, The Book of Negro Folklore (1958, 1969) edited by Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes, 3000 Years of Black Poetry (1969) edited by Lomax and Abdul, The Book of Negro Humor (1966) edited by Langston Hughes, and The Harlem Renaissance Remembered (1972) edited by Arna Bontemps.

The business operations of Dodd, Mead and Company were suspended in March 1989 pending the outcome of arbitration with its fulfillment house, Metro Services Inc. By the end of 1990 the company ceased publications.

Gregory Ames, "Dodd, Mead and Company," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 49: American Literary Publishing Houses, 1638-1899 (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1986). pp. 126-130.Calvin Reid, "Dodd, Mead Operations Suspended over Arbitration," Publishers Weekly, March 31, 1989. p. 11.


2.6 linear foot (8 boxes)


The Dodd, Mead & Company archive contains a limited number of materials from the late nineteenth to the late twentieth centuries relating to American publishing company Dodd, Mead & Company. The bulk of the material concerns the business arrangements between the publisher and various Black American authors.


The arrangement of the Dodd Mead Archive reflects the order of the collection upon its acquisition, which was organized by author. Consequently seven series were created arranged alphabetically by name of the authors: Arna Bontemps, Benjamin Brawley, Orde Coombs, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, and Alan Lomax (with Raoul Abdul). Within each of the seven series, material is arranged alphabetically by book titles. When biographical material or publicity files for a particular author are present, this material is placed at the end of a series.

The Paul Laurence Dunbar series is more complex and has been divided into four subseries. This first subseries consists of three original typescript poems written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The second subseries consists of material related to particular books written by Dunbar. Within this subseries the arrangement is alphabetical by book title. The third subseries consists of material related to publications, motion pictures, recordings, plagiarism, or performances based on Dunbar’s writings. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by title of the project. The fourth subseries consists of material documenting the succession of the literary estate of Paul Laurence Dunbar.

  1. I. Arna Wendell Bontemps, 1957–1974
  2. II. Benjamin Brawley, 1917–1969
  3. III. Orde Coombs, 1969–1971
  4. IV. Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1899
  5. V. Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1896–1969
  6. VI. Langston Hughes, 1936–1985
  7. VII. Alan Lomax and Raul Abdul, 3000 Years of Black Poetry, 1969–1971


Purchase, 1991.

Shelving Summary

  • Boxes 1-8: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes

OCLC Number


Processed by Anita A. Wellner, 1991–1992. Encoded by Natalie Baur, February 2010.

Finding aid for Dodd, Mead & Co. archive1896–1974
In Progress
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Date encoded (2010 February 18)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

181 South College Avenue
Newark DE 19717-5267 USA