Scope and Contents
The collection includes the great majority of manuscripts comprising Buck's literary works, including her novels, non-fiction, children's books, and short stories, as well as articles and speeches, among other material. There is also material about Pearl Buck.
Formats include holographs, typescripts, typescript carbons, mixed manuscripts, galleys, and more.
Prominent topics of Buck's literary works include: Chinese history, politics, and culture; American culture; international relations; adoption; children with disabilities; women's rights; and writing. The collection also includes material regarding the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, Pearl Buck as an author, and other subjects.
For additional material, see A&M 727, Pearl S. Buck, Author, Papers.
Overview of Record Series:
The collection includes eight series:
Series 1. Novels; ca. 1930-1973.
Series 2. Non-fiction; ca. 1936-1972.
Series 3. Children's Books; ca. 1940-1967.
Series 4. Translation; ca. 1933.
Series 5. Collections of Short Stories; ca. 1934-1973.
Series 6. Other Works; ca. 1923-1967, 2014.
Series 7. Miscellaneous; ca. 1960-2014.
Series 8. Oversized; ca. 1930-1995.
Series 1-5 include the bulk of Buck's published books in draft form. The cataloging information for these series was drawn from Mary Lee Welliver's thesis, Pearl S. Buck's Manuscripts: The Harvest of Half a Century (see series 7, box 71, folder 284). Some of the drafts are deemed "original" -- for more information on how this conclusion was reached, please see pages 17-18 of the thesis. Series 6 includes drafts of works that were not cataloged in Welliver's thesis.
Since many of Buck's drafts are undated, date ranges given in the series descriptions are based in part on dates of publication. Also, page counts have not been verified.
Manuscripts from the collection were originally housed in 273 large numbered envelopes. The original envelope numbers have been retained as folder numbers, and the original envelopes have been moved to boxes 83-86.
Regarding terminology in this finding aid:
"Galley" indicates a preliminary version of a publication meant for review and copyediting, printed on oversize paper.
"Paged galleys" indicates galleys where pagination has been added, and the number of pages reflects that pagination.
"Unpaged galleys" lack page numbers, and are counted by the number of leaves referred to as "galley pp.".
"Holograph" indicates an entirely handwritten work (as opposed to typescript).
"Manuscript" is used in the general sense to include holographs, typescripts, and galleys.
"PSB" stands for Pearl S. Buck.
- ca. 1923-2014
- Majority of material found within ca. 1923-1973
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
Biographical / Historical
Pearl began writing about Chinese peasant life and culture and the interactions between East and West in the 1920s, and her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published in 1930. She published the bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Good Earth in 1931, and went on to write more than seventy novels, plays, and short stories and to author numerous articles and essays. Other early books include Sons (1932), A House Divided (1935), The First Wife and Other Stories (1933), All Men are Brothers (1933, translation), The Mother (1934), The Exile (1936), Fighting Angel (1936), and This Proud Heart (1938). In 1938, Pearl Buck became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.
By 1935, Pearl had divorced her first husband and married her publisher and editor, Richard J. Walsh. They settled at Green Hills Farm in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, to be close to Carol, and the couple adopted six more children. Pearl was a prolific writer, and most of her fiction remained set in China and the Far East. Other novels include Dragon Seed (1942), Pavilion of Women (1946), God's Men (1951), Come, My Beloved (1953), Imperial Woman (1956), Letter from Peking (1957), and The Living Reed (1963). Due to personal and political circumstances, Pearl never returned to China after she left in 1934.
Pearl campaigned tirelessly for issues related to Chinese human rights, interracial understanding, and orphaned and disabled children for the rest of her life. In 1949, she founded Welcome House, the first interracial adoption agency in the United States. In 1964, she established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation to provide medical care and education for Amerasian children. Pearl also championed civil rights and women's rights in the United States.
Richard Walsh died in 1960, and in the early 1960s Pearl began a loving relationship with lifelong friend William Ernest Hocking that lasted until Hocking's death in 1966. By 1969, Pearl had moved to Danby, Vermont. Pearl S. Buck died in Vermont in 1973 and is buried at Green Hills Farm in Pennsylvania.
After her death, ownership of Pearl Buck's literary manuscripts was disputed, and eventually awarded to the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation, which were temporarily stored in the Pfeiffer Library at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, WV until the partnership between these two institutions and the WVRHC was formed in 2014, which led to the transfer of the collection to WVU.
36.7 Linear Feet (Summary: 36 ft. 8 in. (74 doc cases, 5 in. each); (2 doc cases, 2 1/2 in. each); (1 flat storage box, 5 in.); (2 flat storage boxes, 1 1/2 in. each); (3 record cartons, 15 in. each); (7 large flat storage boxes, 1 1/2 in. each))
Signed letter from Pearl Buck to Otto Whittaker, with signed enclosure, dated 1967.
Book to Book Collection:
Crouch, Archie R. Scholars' Guide to China Mission Resources in the Libraries and Archives of the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983.
- Authors, American -- West Virginia
- Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973
- Children with mental disabilities
- China -- Fiction
- China -- In literature
- China -- Foreign Relations -- United States
- Hillsboro (W. Va.)
- Human rights advocacy
- Intercountry adoption
- Interracial adoption
- Literature and society -- China
- Literature and society -- United States
- Novelists, American - 20th century.
- Novelists, American -- West Virginia
- Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation
- United States -- Foreign Relations -- China
- United States -- Relations -- China
- Walsh, Richard J. (Richard John), 1886-1960
- West Virginia - Writers.
- West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Women novelists, American -- 20th century
- Women social reformers -- United States
- Pearl S. Buck, Author, Literary Manuscripts, ca. 1923-2014
- Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note