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Robert H. Davis papers

Collection Data

Robert Hobart Davis (1869-1942) was an American journalist, editor, dramatist, and photographer. He was editor of Munsey's Magazine from 1904 to 1925, columnist for the New York Sun from 1925 to 1942, and honorary president of the Stevenson Society of America. Collection consists of correspondence, writings, clippings, printed matter, and photographs documenting Davis's career as an editor and writer and his hobby of photography. Letters reflect his personal as well as professional interests. Correspondents include editors, dramatists, illustrators, journalists, artists, and public figures. Writings contain typescripts and printed versions of works by Davis and a file of printed reviews of his books. Materials relating to the Stevenson Society of America, 1915-1930, include letters, printed matter, clippings, and reports. Photographs consist of approximately 375 portraits by Davis of friends and acquaintances, including prominent writers, artists, performers, and public figures.
Davis, Robert H. (Robert Hobart), 1869-1942 (Creator)
Beach, Rex, 1877-1949 (Correspondent)
Bierce, Ambrose, 1842-1914? (Correspondent)
Borglum, Gutzon, 1867-1941 (Correspondent)
Cobb, Irvin S. (Irvin Shrewsbury), 1876-1944 (Contributor)
Cohen, Octavus Roy, 1891-1959 (Correspondent)
Davis, Robert H. (Robert Hobart), 1869-1942 (Author)
Dreiser, Theodore, 1871-1945 (Correspondent)
England, George Allan, 1877-1936 (Correspondent)
Farrar, Geraldine, 1882-1967 (Correspondent)
Faust, Frederick Schiller, 1892-1944 (Correspondent)
Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958 (Correspondent)
Gibbs, A. Hamilton (Arthur Hamilton), 1888-1964 (Correspondent)
Grey, Zane, 1872-1939 (Correspondent)
Henry, O., 1862-1910 (Correspondent)
Hurst, Fannie, 1889-1968 (Correspondent)
Le Gallienne, Richard, 1866-1947 (Correspondent)
Marlow, Julia, 1865-1950 (Correspondent)
Munsey, Frank Andrew, 1854-1925 (Correspondent)
Rinehart, Mary Roberts, 1876-1958 (Correspondent)
Sears, Jack (Contributor)
Sheehan, Perley Poore, 1875-1943 (Correspondent)
Sinclair, Upton, 1878-1968 (Correspondent)
Thomas, Lowell, 1892-1981 (Correspondent)
Tunney, Gene, 1897-1978 (Correspondent)
Williams, Ben Ames, 1889-1953 (Correspondent)
England, George Allan, 1877-1936 (Contributor)
Dates / Origin
Date Created: 1871 - 1946
Library locations
Manuscripts and Archives Division
Shelf locator: MssCol 739
American literature -- 20th century
Journalism -- New York (State) -- New York
Photography -- United States
United States -- Social life and customs -- 20th century
Munsey's magazine
Stevenson Society of America
Henry, O., 1862-1910
Biographical/historical: Robert Hobart Davis, journalist, editor, dramatist and photographer was born in Nebraska in 1869. The son of Sylvia Nichols and George Ransome Davis, he spent most of his childhood in Carson City, Nevada. It was in Carson City that Davis gained his first newspaper experience working as a compositor on the Carson City Daily Appeal. Davis began his writing career in earnest in San Francisco where he became a leading reporter for the San Francisco Examiner, the Call and Chronicle. Davis moved to New York in 1895 where he worked for the New York World and the New York Journal before joining the Frank A. Munsey Company in 1904. During his years with the Company, Davis edited Munsey's Magazine and started several other publications for which he also served as first managing editor. These included All Story Magazine, The Cavalier and The Ocean. As an editor Davis was well known for his keen criticism, his constant encouragement and his sound and willing advice. These qualities are evident in the hundreds of letters Davis wrote and received during his lifetime. Among the many writers who Davis is credited with "discovering" are O. Henry, Zane Grey, Montague Glass and Frank Packard. After Frank Munsey's death in 1925, Davis was made a member of the executive board of the Munsey-owned New York Sun. At that time Davis turned from his editorial work to writing a regular column for the Sun called "Bob Davis Reveals". Appearing three times a week the column chronicled Davis's adventures, opinions, perceptions and personal encounters as he traveled for the Sun. In addition to his editorial work and regular column, Davis wrote plays, books including Ruby Robert - Alias Bob Fitzsimmons, The Caliph of Bagdad-Life of O. Henry (with Arthur Maurice), Bob Davis Recalls, On Home Soil With Bob Davis and Hawaii. U. S. A., poetry and articles on golf and fishing, two of his preferred hobbies. Davis was an accomplished amateur photographer and in over 200 of his portraits were published in 1932 in Man Makes His Own Mask. Robert Hobart Davis died in Montreal in October, 1942, while traveling for his "Bob Davis Reveals" column.
Content: The Robert Hobart Davis Papers (1871-1946) include correspondence, writings, clippings, printed matter and photographs documenting his career as an editor and writer and his hobby of photography. Davis was a prolific writer whose work as an editor and later as a traveling correspondent for the New York Sun brought him into contact with many people. The letters reflect his personal as well as his professional interest in his correspondents including editors, dramatists, illustrators, journalists, artists and public figures. The correspondence (1890-1942) is arranged chronologically and alphabetically within each year. There are also two separate correspondence files for Fannie Hurst (1913-1942) and Julia Marlowe Sothern (1933-1946). Among Davis's other correspondents were: Rex Beach, Ambrose Bierce, Poultney Bigelow, Samuel G. Blythe, Gutzon Borglum, Edith R. Brainerd, Irvin S. Cobb, Octavus Roy Cohen, Kent Cooper, William Thompson Dewart, Anthony Weston Dimock, George H. Doran, Theodore Dreiser, George Allan England, Geraldine Farrar, Frederick Faust, Charles Ferguson, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Daniel Frohman, Arthur Hamilton Gibbs, Charles Dana Gibson, Richard Butler Glaenzer, Zane Grey, Ernest Haskell, Al J. Jennings, Rockwell Kent, John Francis Kieran, Richard Le Gallienne, George Horace Lorimer, Clarence Hungerford Mackay, Archibald Macleish, Edison Marshall, H. L. Mencken, Charles Arthur Moore, Jr., Frank A. Munsey, John G. Neihardt, Sir William Frederick Travers O'Connor, E. Phillips Oppenheim, Frank L. Packard, Charles Henry Parkhurst, Harry Irving Phillips, Henry Wallace Phillips, William Sydney Porter (O. Henry), Mary Roberts Rinehart, Herbert Livingston Satterlee, Perley Poore Sheehan, John Mac Alpine Siddall, Upton Sinclair, George Sterling, Lowell Thomas, Gene Tunney, Charles E. Van Loan, Ben Ames Williams and P. G. Wodehouse. A partial index to the correspondence is attached to this inventory. Writings include typescripts and printed versions of works by Davis and a file of printed reviews of his books. The typescripts include poems, articles, book reviews and copy for Man makes His Own Mask. The material relating to the Stevenson Society of America (1915-1930), of which Davis was an honorary president, includes letters, printed matter, clippings, and reports. Miscellaneous files include material relating to O. Henry (transcripts of letters, a bibliography and printed matter), biographical material on Davis, Bob Fitzsimmon's account of his conquest of James Corbett, material relating to the Munsey magazine, George Allan England papers and sketches, a "moviegraph" by Jack Sears of Robert Hobart Davis and unsorted Sketches, papers and manuscripts. Clippings include articles by Davis, articles about Davis and miscellaneous subjects. The bulk of the Photographs Series is made up of approximately 375 portraits by Davis of his friends and acquaintances. These photographs, which Davis labeled "Unretouched Photographic Studies of Dual Personalities" were often inscribed to him by the sitter and include portraits of prominent writers, artists, performers and public figures. Notable among them are: Benjamin DeCasseres, Jo Davidson, Montague Glass, James Joyce, Rockwell Kent, Ring Lardner, D. H. Lawrence, Sinclair Lewis, Groucho Marx, H. L. Mencken, Paul Robeson, Lincoln Steffens, Lowell Thomas, Carl Van Vechten, William Butler Yeats, Jan Sibelius, Gene Tunney and Hugh Walpole. A complete list of portraits is included in the box list. The photographs also include other portraits inscribed to Davis and sent to him by friends and colleagues, portraits of Davis, snapshots of family and friends and scenes of New York by W. H. Vander Weyde. The Vander Weyde photographs were taken in 1923 and were used to illustrate a special issue of The Mentor devoted to O. Henry.
Acquisition: May 4, 1945 (& others), Received from Mrs. Madge Lee Davis (gift) & purchases
Physical Description
Extent: 16.5 linear feet (34 boxes)
Type of Resource
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b12318438
MSS Unit ID: 739
Archives collections id: archives_collections_739
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): e021eb90-064c-0138-f682-615ff4c2484d
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