Edwin Way Teale Papers
Scope and Content Note
Teale's papers include field notes and drafts for each of his books, early childhood writings, professional writings for magazines, newspapers and book reviews, correspondence- both personal and professional, personal and family documents, scrapbooks, and memorabilia, as well as his photographs (prints, negatives, and transparencies) and his personal library. There is also one box of original John Burroughs material Teale collected over the years.
- undated, 1799-1995
Prior permission to view still-camera film negatives in boxes 263-270 is required due to fragility.
Restrictions on Use
Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.
Edwin “Way” Teale (christened Edwin Albert Teale) was born on 2 June 1899 in Joliet, Illinois. His father, Oliver Cromwell Teale, was British and had emigrated from England in 1884. After working in New York and then Illinois as a railroad mechanic, he met his future wife, Clara Louise Way at a party hosted by her parents. The future Mrs. Oliver Teale had grown up on “Lone Oak” farm, which Edwin fondly wrote about in his book Dune Boy. Edwin's early years were kept busy with church, school, and more “school” at home, his mother having been a teacher. Although he always felt connected with nature, it was only during the summers, visiting his grandparents at Lone Oak farm, that he was able to roam free. Edwin kept a journal from very early on, documenting the natural world and things he found interesting.
In 1918, Edwin Way Teale enlisted in the Student Army Training Corps, but was discharged only two months later. He then transferred to Earlham College, where his uncle, David Edwards, was President. It was at Earlham where he met Nellie Imogene Donovan. She was instrumental in his life as a wife, friend, assistant and editor. Edwin's major in college was English, and he was active in many clubs and sports teams including the Football Team, Oratory Club and Debating Team.
After graduating from Earlham in 1922, Edwin took a job as head of the department of public speaking and debate at Friend's University in Wichita, Kansas. Nellie graduated in the spring of 1923 and they were married on 1 August. The Teales stayed for one more year at Friend's, Edwin continued teaching while Nellie became the athletic director.
The Teales then journeyed to New York, where Edwin entered Columbia University. While obtaining his Masters degree and working on his thesis paper entitled Jeffries Criticism of Wordsworth and Scott he submitted his editorials to Dr. Crane, a noted editorial writer. During this time the Teales had their only child, David. After graduating, Teale had hopes of getting a job on the editorial staff of Columbia Dispatch, but after several months of waiting for the official offer and a dwindling bank account, Edwin was forced to try his luck in New York. It was here where he began his decade long career at Popular Science. Edwin wrote on average, four articles an issue, some ghost-written, anonymous or written using pen names. In 1942, after having success with freelance articles, and his first few books (A Book About Gliders, The Golden Throng), he resigned to work full time for himself.
The following years were filled with happiness and great sadness. Although Edwin's career as a writer, photographer and public speaker prospered, David joined the army at 18. While on a reconnaissance mission in Germany, David was killed when a bomb sunk the small boat he was on. David and several others drowned. For almost a year, David's status was Missing in Action. After months of inquiries they finally discovered most of what happened and were given the official letter by the government. As Edwin stated, the only thing that kept them from despair was their love of nature.
In 1959, Edwin and Nellie decided to move from their home in Baldwin, New York, to a more rural area. After touring the area in a hot-air balloon they decided to purchase a seventy-nine acre property in Hampton, Connecticut they named “Trail Wood”. He documented their quest for the perfect home in his book entitled A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm. Frequently the Teales welcomed visitors: fans, hikers and naturalists wishing a tour, or just to explore the property.
Edwin and Nellie were members of such organizations and societies as the Thoreau Society, the Explorer's Club, the John Burroughs Memorial Association and the New York Entomological Society. They were good friends with many other naturalists and kept extensive correspondence, with relatives, friends, fans, and other influential people including Rachel Carson, Roger Tory Peterson, William T. Davis, andJulian Burroughs. His 32 books have been published in many languages, as well as in Braille. He won the Pulitzer prize in 1966, and received the Burroughs Medal in 1943 for his book, Near Horizons, among other awards and honors. His fans continued to send Edwin and Nellie letters even after his death in October 1980. Edwin and Nellie chose to donate their materials to the University of Connecticut Library and preserved Trail Wood by donating it to the Connecticut Audubon Society. It is now known as the Edwin Way Teale Memorial Sanctuary and is seasonally open for tours.
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Language of Materials
Edwin Way Teale, Connecticut-based naturalist, was the author of thirty-two books. His papers include field notes and drafts for each of his books, early childhood writings, professional writings for magazines, newspapers and book reviews, correspondence- both personal and professional, personal and family documents, scrapbooks, and memorabilia, as well as his photographs (prints, negatives, and transparencies) and his personal library. There is also one box of original John Burroughs material Teale collected over the years.
There are thirteen Series within the Edwin Way Teale Papers.
Series I: Writings (undated, 1799-1991) contains EWT's writings and includes his book related material, early writings, published and unpublished articles or essays, and the manuscripts for his speeches.
Series II: Journals and Diaries (undated, 1799-1991) contains Edwin's journals and diaries ranging from the his early childhood to his death in 1980. Nellie's journals and diaries are also included in this series.
Series III: Correspondence (undated, 1907-1991) is comprised of both Nellie's and Edwin's correspondence up to his death in October of 1980, and is separated into appropriate sub-series.
Series IV: Print Material (undated, 1885-1995) includes printed material; magazines and newspapers that EWT published articles in and those he collected for his personal library.
Series V: Clubs and Societies (undated, 1930-1991) relates solely to Clubs and Societies of which he was involved in and includes related correspondence and publications.
Series VI: Family Papers (undated, 1850-1991) contains family material from his mother, son and grandparents, and also includes Nellie's material (such as birding notes) after October of 1980.
Series VII: Scrapbooks (undated, 1914-1979) is devoted to scrapbooks.
Series VIII: Artifacts and Samples (undated, 1950-1978) contains associated artifacts.
Series IX: Camera Equipment and Media (undated, 1958-1989) contains cameras, camera accessories, LP record albums, cassette tapes, and films. The cameras and accessories were used by Teale to take the negatives and transparencies contained in Series XIII: Photographs. The LP record albums and cassettes contain interviews with Teale as well as a reading from his book Dune Boy. The LP record albums are separated from the Teale Papers but can be located with a separate LP call number. The films are primarily 16mm color and are mostly documenting insects as well as Teale working in his Insect Garden. Some of the films are warped and will require careful handling to view. The films are separated from the Teale Papers but can be located with a separate mp number.
Series X: Memorabilia (undated, 1801-1990s) includes associated memorabilia.
Series XI: Other Author's Manuscript Material Given to EWT & NDT (undated, 1951-1991) contains other author's manuscript material that was given to Nellie or Edwin.
Series XII: John Burroughs Material (undated, 1901-1946) collected by Edwin Way Teale and includes letters, original writings and manuscripts.
Series XIII: Photographs (undated, 1860s-1990s) includes black-and-white negatives on glass and film, color transparencies, and black-and-white prints. Each subseries is uniquely arranged to best house the materials and assist researchers. >Subseries A: Negatives are arranged by size (3" x 4", 120mm) and chronology. Subseries B: Transparencies are arranged by format (transparency, lantern slides, slides), chronology, and subject. Subseries C: Prints are arranged by subject. Subseries D: Publication Related Materials are arranged by format (negatives, prints), size (3" x 4", 120mm, 8" x 10"), and publication title. Subseries E: Personal Photographs are arranged by subject and chronology. Subseries F: John Burroughs Related Material is arranged by format (negative, prints).
Two large donations were made by the author, Edwin Way Teale, and then by Nellie Teale after her husband's death.
Existence and Location of Copies
Portions of the collection have ben digitized and digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository
- A Conscious Stillness. Subject Source: Local sources
- A Naturalist Buys An Old Farm. Subject Source: Local sources
- A Walk Through the Year Subject Source: Local sources
- Adventures in Nature Subject Source: Local sources
- American Seasons. Subject Source: Local sources
- Audubon's Wildlife. Subject Source: Local sources
- Authors Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Autumn Across America. Subject Source: Local sources
- Byways to Adventure. Subject Source: Local sources
- Circle of the Seasons. Subject Source: Local sources
- Correspondence Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Days Without Time. Subject Source: Local sources
- Dune Boy. Subject Source: Local sources
- Equipment and supplies Subject Source: Fast
- Grassroot Jungles. Subject Source: Local sources
- Green Mansions. Subject Source: Local sources
- Green Treasury. Subject Source: Local sources
- Insect Friends. Subject Source: Local sources
- Journey Into Summer. Subject Source: Local sources
- Memorabilia Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Naturalists Subject Source: Fast
- Near Horizons. Subject Source: Local sources
- North With the Spring. Subject Source: Local sources
- Personal papers Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Photographers Subject Source: Fast
- Photographs Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Photographs of American Nature. Subject Source: Local sources
- Publications (documents) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Springtime in Britain. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Book of Gliders. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Golden Throng. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Insect World of J. Henri Fabre. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Junior Book of Insects. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Junior Book of Photography. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Lost Dog. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Lost Woods. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Strange Lives of Familiar Insects. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Thoughts of Thoreau. Subject Source: Local sources
- The Wilderness World of John Muir. Subject Source: Local sources
- Walden Woods (Mass.) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Wandering Through Winter. Subject Source: Local sources
- manuscripts (document genre) Subject Source: Art & Architecture Thesaurus
- Edwin Way Teale Papers
- Archives & Special Collections staff
- 2011 May
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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