Donald Windham & Sandy M. Campbell Collections

The Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Collections in the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University, including their literary archives and the personal library they shared, are composite portraits of their creators; they provide scholars opportunities to see these creative individuals through the eyes of many of their contemporaries.

If the collections offer a broad view of the lives and work of Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell, they also create a kind of group biography, documenting Windham’s and Campbell’s lively artistic circle. Windham’s own writings are present in theWindham and Campbell Papers, as are photographs of Campbell in various stage roles; drawings of Campbell by artist friends can be found alongside collaboratively created visual works and texts. The Windham and Campbell Library adds additional dimensions to our understanding of the inspired lives of these remarkable individuals.

Consisting of some 80 boxes of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, and artworks, the Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Papers are a rich resource for scholars and students of literature, art history, American studies, and more. A literary archive at its core, the papers include Donald Windham’s manuscripts, drafts, notebooks, and journals, revealing his creative process as a writer. The collection also documents Windham’s collaborative projects and both men’s aesthetic conversations with many literary friends, especially Tennessee Williams, E. M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, Truman Capote, and Harper Lee; abundant correspondences and writings by these and other literary figures are an important component of the archive. In addition to many files associated with close friends, the papers reveal a broader artistic circle through letters, photographs, and artworks by artists Paul Cadmus and Joseph Cornell; photographers George Platt Lynes and Carl Van Vechten; and actors Montgomery Clift and Tallulah Bankhead. 

The papers document Windham’s and Campbell’s multifaceted and fascinating lives. Date books, scrapbooks, and photo albums record travels across Europe and in the United States, as well as a wide range of social and literary activities. Finally, their own extensive correspondence documents the long and devoted partnership Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell shared throughout their lives. A detailed list of the archive’s contents can be found online: Guide to the Donald Windham and Sandy Campbell Papers (YCAL MSS 424); a brief description of the collection is available in Orbis: Donald Windham and Sandy Campbell Papers.

Donald Windham’s extraordinary gift to the Beinceke Library also included nearly 1000 volumes from the personal library he and Sandy Campbell shared. An outgrowth of Campbell’s practice of initiating correspondences with favorite authors, the library illustrates imaginative reading practices and creative friendships. Both Windham and Campbell marked their books in various ways and both were in the habit of laying materials into important volumes, adding photographs, letters, and related documents, as well as objects such as flowers and leaves. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood provides an example. The collection includes a 1965 advance copy inscribed by the author, “From Truman to Sandy and Donny.” The volume also has a presentation inscription to Windham and Campbell from Alvin A. Dewey, the Kansas Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in charge of the murder of the Clutter family, the subject of Capote’s work. The volume is additionally autographed by writer Harper Lee. Materials laid into the book include Dewey’s business card, photographic postcards from Carl Van Vechten, manuscript notes by Capote, letters from Dewey’s wife Marie, ticket stubs, and an announcement for the Book of the Month Club edition of the book reissued in celebration of its 60th anniversary. A second copy of the title includes additional clippings and notes and a photocopy of a letter to Truman Capote from Dick Hickock, one of the book’s subjects. An example of the many enriching connections between the Windham-Campbell papers and library can be found in the collection of photographs in the archive documenting Donald Windham’s and Sandy Campbell’s visit to Holcomb, Kansas, where, with Capote, Harper Lee, and others, he toured sites associated with the Clutter family murders.

The Donald Windham and Sandy M. Campbell Collections are further enriched by their context at the Beinecke Library. The Yale Collection of American Literature and General Modern Collections include the papers of several members of their artistic community; Windham and Campbell are represented by letters, manuscripts, photographs and related materials in Beinecke archives including:

Jared French Papers

Glenway Wescott Papers

Basil Davenport Papers

Carl Van Vechten Papers 

Charles Henri Ford Papers

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