Guide to the Loula Grace Erdman Collection
Prepared by Jana K. Comerford under the direction of Shawna Kennedy-Witthar.
Loula Grace Erdman, 1898-1976.
Papers, 1912-1976
10 linear feet

Donated to the Friends of the Cornette Library organization in October 1991 by the family of Loula Grace Erdman.

The Loula Grace Erdman collection is stored in the Frank M. Blackburn Reading Room in Special Collections. Patrons wanting to use materials from the Erdman Collection will be asked to do so in a designated secure reading room within Special Collections. These materials are not available for loan and may not be removed from this area. Staff will make photocopies of Erdman Collection materials for patrons for a fee when the condition of the item permits, based on the judgment of the Special Collections Librarian and staff. Patrons should check the hours Special Collections is open and allow time to read policies and fill out required forms during their visits. Please call (806)651-2208 or send us an e-mail ( for further information.

A section of shelving in the Blackburn Reading Room is devoted to the Erdman Collection, and no elaborate system of arrangement is needed due to the small size of the collection. The diaries (1936-1976), three scrapbooks, Erdman's personal copies of her books (first edition publishers' presentation copies), other books donated along with the collection, and an "Album of Remembrances" are on the shelf and are easily retrievable. The shelf also holds a small box that contains a typescript of the novel Save Weeping for the Night, a typescript entitled Impressions of the Panhandle, two file folders of correspondence generated mostly in 1974 and 1975, 49 photographs, and a book contract. The WTAMU Archives contains three file folders of newspaper clippings, each with an index.

Loula Grace Erdman was born in 1898 near Alma, Missouri, the daughter of Augustus F. and Mollie (Maddox) Erdman. She earned a bachelor's degree in 1931 from Central Missouri State College (now Central Missouri State University) and a master's degree in 1941 from Columbia University. She taught in elementary and junior high schools in Amarillo, Texas, before accepting employment at West Texas State College (now West Texas A&M University) in Canyon in 1945 as a teacher of creative writing and assistant professor of English.

Already the author of numerous short stories and articles, Erdman took a friend's advice and tried her hand at writing a "career book." She produced Separate Star (1944), a novel aimed at young women aspiring to become teachers. She followed up with a second career novel for young potential teachers, Fair is the Morning (1945). These popular novels received favorable reviews, and Eleanor Roosevelt praised Fair is the Morning in her newspaper column, "This is My Day." Erdman next tried her hand at writing an adult novel, The Years of the Locust (1946). This novel won the biennial $10,000 Dodd, Mead-Redbook prize.

Next came Lonely Passage (1948), a novel that Erdman liked better at the time than her other books. She believed it was the least favorite of everyone else. Erdman's next offering was one of her best: The Edge of Time, (1950), an adult novel about newlyweds Wade and Bethany Cameron, who left the comforts of their native Missouri on their wedding day in 1885 to homestead in the barren Texas Panhandle. This novel is often considered her best work. Erdman also wrote a popular Panhandle trilogy about the Pierce family of homesteaders. These books were The Wind Blows Free (1952), The Wide Horizon (1956), and The Good Land (1959). The Far Journey (1955) told the story of a young wife who drove a covered wagon from Missouri to Texas with her son to join her husband there. Room to Grow (1962) concerned the "Americanization" of a French family who moved to the Texas Panhandle. The Panhandle pioneer novels covered the years from 1885 through the early part of the twentieth century.

Erdman is perhaps best known and remembered for her Panhandle novels, even though she wrote a total of 21 books, for both adults and juveniles, in the course of a long, distinguished career as a novelist. The Texas Panhandle novels are almost unique because they present the experience of the homesteaders rather than the ranchers and because Erdman focuses on the experience of the women pioneers.

Erdman also wrote many shorter works. In addition to contributing short stories to anthologies and English textbooks, she contributed short stories and articles to popular magazines such as Reader's Digest, Woman's Home Companion, Ladies' Home Journal, Christian Herald, American Girl, and Country Home. Erdman also published several articles in education journals such as Today's Education, English Journal, and Instructor.

In addition to the Dodd, Mead-Redbook cash prize, Erdman won the Dodd, Mead-American Girl Award in 1952, the Texas Institute of Letters Juvenile Book Award in 1962 and 1974, and the Steck Vaughn Award in 1974. Her novels were translated into many languages (German, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Indonesian, and Bengali) and were sold all over the world.

Information about Erdman appears in many standard reference works, such as Who's Who of American Women, Something About the Author, More Junior Authors, Authors of Books for Young People, Texas Writers of Today, American Novelists of Today, Twentieth Century Western Writers, and Contemporary Authors. Please see reference book listings and other sources for more information.

Loula Grace Erdman died on June 20, 1976, and was buried in her home state of Missouri. She never married. She was survived by her brother and sister, two nieces, and one nephew.

The Edge of Time is the only novel still in print in 2002. (It was selected to be number 11 in the Texas Tradition Series of classic Texas novels reprinted by the Texas Christian University Press.) However, Erdman books are widely available at libraries and from used book dealers. Consequently, the Erdman Collection contains no rare books. Researchers may find it more difficult to locate Erdman's articles and short stories. The WTAMU Erdman Collection and archives contain several of these items. Also, the reviews in minor publications that the Collection contains may be difficult to locate elsewhere. (The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum Research Center, a 10-minute walk from Cornette Library on the WTAMU campus, also has two scrapbooks of clippings as well as other Erdman items, including manuscripts. PPHM Archives personnel may be contacted by calling (806)651-2261 or by emailing the PPHM Research Center.)

Erdman's personal, handwritten journals cover the years 1936 through 1976.

The folders in the collection's single box contain 49 photographs, correspondence, mostly from 1974 and 1975, primarily with her Dodd, Mead Company editor. The correspondence sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the writing of Erdman's last novel, Save Weeping for the Night. Two typescripts are included: Save Weeping for the Night and Impressions of the Panhandle.

Memorabilia is included in the collection, mostly in the scrapbooks, but the main item in this category is a small, pink fabric-covered book with a ceramic oval on the front that has Erdman's initials on it. This book, called an "Album of Remembrances" in the provenance document, was presented to her at a reception celebrating the publication of her autobiography, A Time to Write, in 1969. It contains many affectionate and personal messages from her family and many friends.

The Erdman Collection also contains publisher presentation copies of Erdman's books (first editions). These books are not available for checkout, but most of Erdman's novels are available in Cornette Library's loan collection.

Correspondence, Photographs, and Other Items

Box 1
A set of small envelopes containing 49 photographs, mostly of Erdman alone or with other people.
  • Correspondence with Dodd, Mead Company, 1969 (1), 1974, 1975 (Most items concern Save Weeping for the Night.)
  • Letter from Lew Larkin, 8-30-75
  • Letter to Marjorie Kinney, Kansas City (Missouri) Public Library, 9-7-75
Book contract with Dodd, Mead and Company (dated 5-6-74) for Story of Bettie Shelby, which later received the title Save Weeping for the Night
  • Correspondence with Dodd, Mead and Company, 1969 (1), 1974, 1975. (Most items concern Save Weeping for the Night.)
  • Book jacket from Save Weeping for the Night with note attached from Dodd, Mead and Company dated 12-12-74.
  • Letter from Robert Burch dated 5-22-75
  • Ordering blank from Neiman-Marcus InCircle
Undated typescript of Impressions of the Panhandle.
Undated typescript of Save Weeping for the Night.

Personal Journals

One covering each year from 1936 to 1976. Year is printed on spine.

Erdman's Personal Copies of Novels

Note: These first-edition books are half-leather with publisher's presentation binding, spine gilt extra, cloth or paper covers, and embellished with modest gilt rules. Some are first British editions.


Maroon scrapbook

Items listed below are interspersed with newspaper clippings and book reviews. Reviews of the following books are contained in this scrapbook:

  • Separate Star
  • Fair is the Morning
  • (The article by Eleanor Roosevelt about Fair is the Morning is included in this scrapbook.)
  • Erdman poems, 1932, Kansas City Journal Post
  • Postcard from Texas Writers of Today requesting information.
  • Followup postcard from Texas Writers of Today.
  • Remittance blank (acceptance slip) for first published article, "Good Match."
  • Letter regarding the translation of The Years of the Locust into Arabic.
  • Letter from agent about sale of a short story, "The House," to Capper's Farmer.
  • Telegram from Helen Mildred Owen about use of "Roosevelt article."
  • Letter from Country Home magazine about manuscript, 5-22-35.
  • Letter of encouragement from Frank Clay Ross, 7-20-35.
  • Letter from M. Bernice Wheeler of Country Home about correction of errors.
  • Handmade flyer for public review by Erdman of Separate Star.
  • Thank-you note from Eleanor Roosevelt for book Erdman sent her.
  • Future Teachers of America program.
  • Letter from PFC Carroll Miller about Separate Star.
  • Longman's catalog (publisher of Separate Star).
  • Handmade picture frame(?) representing Fair is the Morning.
  • Letter from Longman's (publisher) with duplicate reviews.
  • Program from Southwest Book Fair, Dallas, 1945.
  • Letter from Eugene Field Society extending Erdman honorary membership.
  • West Texas Wings flyer(?) with Erdman story, "...and Toward Men, Goodwill."
  • Slide of house in the snow.
  • Bookmark hand printed with the words " My Sky is Blue."
  • Amarillo Business and Professional Women's meeting program.
  • Slide of Erdman and friend(?).
  • Small blue plastic holder, perhaps for slides.

Green scrapbook

Items listed below are interspersed with newspaper clippings and book reviews. Reviews of the following books are contained in this scrapbook:

  • Letter from Anna E. Masterson.
  • Letter from Elizabeth McMurray.
  • Letter (fan mail) from Dorothy Elder.
  • Letter (fan mail) from Laura G. Pendergast.
  • Letter (fan mail) [signature illegible].
  • Letter from "Mary" (friend).
  • Letter from The Writer requesting an article.
  • Invitation to cocktail party in New York City.
  • Postcard from Mary Margaret [illegible].
  • Description of The Edge of Time from the Dodd, Mead catalog.
  • "End of a Good Era" article from Reader's Digest mentioning Erdman article.
  • Bookmark of Perryton Sorosis Club dedicated to Guest Day with Erdman.
  • Letter from Canyon High School Library Club.
  • Engraved napkin ("Welcome, Miss Erdman").
  • Postcard showing Erdman as guest speaker for unidentified event.
  • Telegram from Bertha L. Gunterman.
  • Telegram from "Lilian."
  • Description of Three at the Wedding from Dodd, Mead catalog.
  • Booklet featuring The Far Journey for book club (Sears, Roebuck).

Red scrapbook

Items listed below are interspersed with newspaper clippings and book reviews. Reviews of the following books are contained in this scrapbook:

  • Letter from The New York Times about creative writing contest for children.
  • Compiler's copy of information sent for publication in Who's Who of American Women.
  • Letter from State Library Commission of North Dakota acknowledging receipt of copy of The Man Who Told the Truth.
  • Engraved invitation to event honoring Erdman July 8, 1957.
  • Customs dock pass for Loula Grace Erdman and Elizabeth Erdman.
  • Invitation to meeting honoring Erdman.
  • Letter from Texas Institute of Letters regarding award for Room to Grow.
  • Postcard from Lucinda Parr Gould.
  • Section of brochure from Family Bookshelf about Many a Voyage.
  • Program for Kansas Association of School Librarians annual dinner meeting (Erdman was speaker).
  • Program for Writers' Roundup, 1955.
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