The Florence Helen McGaughey collection contains three cubic feet of incoming letters; writings in handwritten, typed, and published form; photographs; printed materials; clippings; reel-to-reel tape; and awards, certificates, and medals. While the earliest pieces in the collection are undated photographs of her grandparents, most items date from the 1930's through 1976. The emphasis of the collection is on her writing rather than on her Indiana State University teaching career.
The collection has been arranged into thirteen series. Of particular interest to researchers are numerous holograph and typed copies of particular writings containing revisions so that the evolution of some works can be studied.
Biography Includes general biographical information about McGaughey and some of her ancestors; professional licenses; resumes; clippings; Roachdale High School Class of 1922 reunion materials; letters and photographs concerning Southeast Asian children she supported through Operation "Happy Child," and materials from writer's conferences she attended at Middlebury College and Indiana University.
General Correspondence Consists of three letters (or drafts) from McGaughey but is primarily composed of incoming letters from friends, colleagues, and other writers. It is arranged alphabetically by correspondent; when there is more than one letter, the arrangement is chronological. There is one exception to this arrangement; letters from publishers are grouped not by name of correspondent but by publisher's name.
It is important to note that the series does not contain correspondence exclusively. There are sometimes newspaper clippings, clipped journal articles, photographs, etc. and a reel to reel tape from Jeffrey King arranged with the letters, since that is the way the materials were found in the most recent processing. Also, all of the correspondence in the McGaughey Collection is not collected in this series; more can be found throughout the collection, grouped with topics to which the letters pertain.
Of special interest to researchers are short letters from Indiana State University presidents Alan Rankin, R. W. Holmstedt, Ralph Tirey, and Richard Landini, as well as writer May Sarton; letters from Mrs. Rolland Ade about writer George Ade; lengthy correspondence from Professor Oliver William Robinson from 1966 to 1973 for which access was restricted until 1985; and a packet of correspondence for which access is restricted until 1990. In addition, McGaughey conducted a survey from 1935 to 1941 where she requested a list of "Ten Representative Americans." There are responses to this survey from Margaret Mead, Charles Beard, Frederick Allen, and Jesse Stuart.
Poetry This series is the largest in the collection. It consists of several subseries.
Early Poems- contains bound and unbound copies of unpublished writings and information about early acceptances (1923-1941).
Collections- contains copies of and correspondence and clippings concerning her seven published books of poetry: Wind Across the Night (1938), Music in the Wind (1941), Spring is a Blue Kite (1946), Reaching for the Spring (1958), "Selected Poems" in Quaderni di Poesia (1961), "Shadows" in Quaderni di Poesia (1965), and Petals from a Plum Tree (1967).
Individual Poems- contains single and collected copies of poems arranged by both McGaughey's numerical system (according to date of acceptance for publication) and alphabetical by title. A notebook compiled by McGaughey also contains reviews, clippings, and correspondence connected with these poems.
Journals- contains periodicals which contain one or more poems.
Poetry-- Miscellaneous- contains worksheets and revisions which are particularly revealing of changes that McGaughey made as her poems evolved. There are two folders of clipped poems and tear sheets, some sheets containing several of her poems. Translations of several of her poems into French and related correspondence are also included.
Librettos The series contains numerous revisions of McGaughey's two librettos, "The Dispossessed" (originally called "Malinda") written between 1966 and 1973 and "Written in the Stars" (originally called "Elizabeth") written in 1975.
Essays The series contains holograph, typed, and printed copies of essays, listed in alphabetical order by title.
Fiction The series contains miscellaneous short stories and "Eyes for Mr. Stanley" (1945-- the folder also contains photographs of seeing eye dogs); "Lakemont," an unfinished story of life in a school for girls along with a critique (1945-1946); and "Rainbow on the Stair" (1946).
Plays The series contains Christmas plays which were written each year from 1965-1975 for the Kentland Women's Club.
Other Writings The series includes book reviews, a term paper written in 1932 for the Bread Loaf School of English, talks given at Indiana State University English Department Coffee Hour, the Pen and Brush Club, and the Unitarian- Universalist Church, and miscellaneous writings and research notes.
Photographs The series contains family and professional photographs. Some photographs have been left in frames to preserve McGaughey's notations on the back.
Awards This series includes certificates, correspondence, clippings, and medals concerning the numerous honors that McGaughey received for her writing.
Affiliations This series includes brief information and correspondence about Indiana State University library regulations and about membership in numerous organizations, notable the American Academy and the National Arts Club.
The Morris Award This series contains correspondence, applications, clippings, etc. from 1966-1976 concerning the award established by McGaughey in honor of her aunt, Kathryn Brumfield Morris.
Works of Others The series contains poetry and artwork by other writers and artists which McGaughey kept.