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Frederick Buechner Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: SC-005

Scope and Contents

Biographical material is divided into the categories of general biographical, memorabilia, notebooks and "schools." The latter section includes papers and items produced by Buechner during his school days. The general biographical section encompasses the categories of photographs, awards, family history and information on Buechner's friends. Memorabilia includes non written items nature or written matter not directly relating to Buechner (e.g. sympathy letters written to Buechner's mother following the death of Carl Frederick Buechner, Sr.). The series description (found later in this guide) gives further information on the contents and arrangement of this portion of the collection. Correspondence is divided into the categories of 1928-1958, 1959-1984, and 1984 to the present. 1958 was selected as a cut off date due to the fact that in that year Buechner completed his educational training at Union Theological Seminary and entered the ministry. The second cut off was selected in order to facilitate collection update. Correspondence, after being placed in its proper chronological series, is separated into the categories "General" and "Business" and then arranged alphabetically. Letters were placed under "General" or "Business" on the criterion of content, rather than correspondent, i.e. a personal letter to a business associate would be placed under "General." General correspondence includes all non business correspondence that was written by or to Buechner. Business correspondence is categorized into "General Business," and "Invitations to Lecture." All business correspondence exclusive of invitations to lecture is placed under "General Business." The majority of the General Correspondence consists of letters written by, rather than to Buechner. Extensive correspondence exists with Gerrish Thurber, James Merrill, Hellen Merrill, and Katherine Kuhn (Buechner's mother).

The section of manuscripts includes drafts of books, poems, short stories, plays, teaching and speaking engagements, sermons and chapel talks. Not only holograph and typed manuscripts, but galley and page proofs are found under the manuscript category. There is also a series Secondary papers, sermons and interviews in unpublished format form another series under this category. Published items are divided into primary and secondary sources. Buechner's writings include articles, interviews, short stories, poems and newspaper clippings. Items on newsprint were photocopied and the original discarded for preservation purposes. Books are kept separately from the papers and are available for researcher use. The items found in oversize magazines are placed separately at the end of the collection. Secondary items include book announcements, book reviews and excerpts.


  • Created: 1926-2017
  • Existence: Date acquired: 1982


Conditions Governing Access

Access to the Buechner papers are made based upon which category  the respective materials reside.

Access to published books, essays and articles; newspaper and magazine clippings; published reviews and similar documents (the “Public Materials”) are guided by the general access policies of the Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections (i.e., those policies generally used by Wheaton in similar situations, which policies govern any copying, reproduction or duplication of any Public Materials for personal use only). Any person accessing the Buechner Materials who wishes to copy, reproduce or duplicate materials for other than personal use must contact Frederick Buechner Literary Assets, LLC (hereinafter “FBLA”) at for such rights.

Access to private correspondence, business correspondence, personal diaries, holographic manuscripts, audio, video or other recordings of any type, and personal memorabilia (the "Private Materials") shall not be disclosed, displayed or made available or accessible during Rev. Buechner’s lifetime without the prior written consent of FBLA. These materials will become available on the same conditions of the aforementioned "Public Materials"  forty years after Rev. Buechner’s death.  (Exception for Public or Commercial Recordings: if a public or commercial recording has been made involving Rev. Buechner or his writings (original or derivative works) (collectively, “Recordings”) and such Recordings are subject to a written release executed by Rev. Buechner or FBLA, then Wheaton shall be free to use and share such Recordings pursuant only to the requirements of  the copyright holder. If the Recordings are not subject to such a written release executed by Rev. Buechner or FBLA, then such Recordings are subject to the terms of this paragraph.)

A subset of Private Materials (the “Special Private Materials”), such as Rev. Buechner’s copy of Gone with the Wind and other papers, so designated, are unavailable until seventy-five years after the death of Rev. Buechner and that time will retain the restrictions for those items classified "private materials."

A fourth category are those materials received from Princeton University. These retain the originally agreed upon restriction (manuscripts closed during Buechner’s lifetime with access available upon written permission from Buechner. The Held correspondence is closed until 25 years after Buechner’s death).

Researchers desiring access to those portions of the collection classified as Private Materials or Special Private Materials must obtain written permission from FBLA.

Rights of publication must be secured from FBLA, which entity holds the copyright to Buechner’s unpublished archival material, or from the author or author’s agent in the case of secondary works.

Conditions Governing Use

Duplication may be restricted if copying could cause damage to items.


139 boxes

53 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.

Source of Acquisition


Method of Acquisition

The papers of Frederick Buechner were given, by personal donation, to the Wheaton College Special Collections beginning in 1982. Subsequent additions to the papers by Buechner have brought the collection to its present size of 40 linear feet, dating from 1928 to the present. Biographical information, correspondence, manuscripts, and published items form the main categories into which the material is organized. In late-2006 manuscripts held by Princeton University were deaccessioned and added to the Wheaton holdings. The manuscripts, amounting to roughly 35 inches of material, containted manuscripts, typescripts and proofs for A Long Day's Dying.

Other Descriptive Information

The papers of Frederick Buechner, author, lecturer and ordained Presbyterian minister, occupies approximately 40 linear feet. Given to the Wheaton College Special Collections in several personal donations, the material includes personal papers, correspondence, manuscripts, articles, photographs, and published items, both primary and secondary.

Frederick Buechner Papers
Buswell Library Special Collections Staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

501 College Ave.
Wheaton IL 60187-5593 USA