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Joseph Warren Beach papers

Identifier: ua-00960

Scope and Content

The collection includes manuscript material, poems, personal and professional correspondence, notes on Ernest Hemingway, a personal diary, book reviews, clippings and reprints. Letters of A. Howard Greenly are also included. Personal letters between JWB and well-known American poets, editors and writers comprise a considerable portion of the collection.


  • 1900-1993


Language of Materials

Collection materials in English and German

Use of Materials

Items in the collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Joseph W. Beach (1880-1957)

Joseph Warren Beach, B.A. (1900) University of Minnesota, M.A. (1902), Ph.D. (1907) Harvard University. Professor of English and chairman of the English Department at the University of Minnesota. Was an internationally recognized figure in the field of literary criticism.

Joseph Warren Beach (JWB) was born in Gloversville, New York on January 14, 1880. He was the son of Dr. Eugene Beach, a physician, and Sarah Jessup Warren Beach. His mother's sister, Elizabeth Warren Northrop was married to Cyrus Northrop who served as the second president of the University of Minnesota (1884-1911).

It was for this reason that Joseph Warren Beach enrolled in the University of Minnesota in 1896 and lived in the Northrop household, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1900. He also attended Harvard University where he obtained a Master of Arts degree in 1902 and a Ph.D. in 1907. He returned to the University of Minnesota in 1907 and joined the Department of English as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 1917 and professor in 1924. He also served as chairman of the department from 1939 until his retirement in 1948. After he retired from the University, Beach taught at Harvard University (1949-1950), Illinois University (1950-1951), the Sorbonne, Paris, and the University of Strasbourg as a Fulbright Lecturer (1951-1952), Johns Hopkins (1952-1953), and the University of Vienna as a Fulbright Lecturer (1954-1955).

Beach was best known for introducing literary criticism into the study of literature. He was also interested in poetry and Twentieth Century fiction. Beach was the author of over 15 books, including Sonnets of the Head and Heart(1903), The Method of Henry James(1918), The Concept of Nature in Nineteenth Century English Poetry(1936), The Twentieth-Century Novel(1932), The Outlook for American Prose(1926), and American Fiction, 1920-1940(1941). He died on August 13, 1957 at the age of 77.

In 1959, family and friends arranged for the Joseph Warren Beach Lecture Series at the University of Minnesota. Still offered by the Department of English, the Lecture Series hosts some of the most notable names in literary criticism.

Elizabeth Northrop, Cyrus Northrop's daughter, and Joseph Warren Beach were married in 1907. They had two sons, (Cyrus) Northrop and (J.D.) Warren Beach. Elizabeth Northrop Beach died in February 1918 of tuberculosis. On April 22, 1918, Joseph Warren Beach married Dagmar Doneghy. She died in 1966.


2.5 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)


This collection consists of the papers of Joseph Warren Beach, literary critic, poet and professor emeritus of English at the University of Minnesota.


The collection is arranged into the following series:

  1. Correspondence
  2. Poetry and Prose
  3. Book Reviews
  4. Reprints
  5. Miscellaneous Notes on Ernest Hemingway
  6. American/English Biographies
  7. Manuscripts
  8. Personal Materials

Source of acquisition

The collection was deposited in University Archives by Dagmar Doneghy Beach in 1961 and 1962, Northrop Beach in 1998 and Christopher Beach in 2007.

Related Material in University Archives

Northrop Family papers. Material concerning Elizabeth Northrop Beach consisting of a copy of her will, correspondence with the Minneapolis Trust Company and a diary of a trip to Europe, 1911, that were originally found in the Joseph Warren Beach Papers, have been placed in the Northrop Family Papers with other material regarding Elizabeth Northrop Beach. Beach family photographs are also contained in this collection.

Department of English records

David F. Swensen papers

Cyrus Northrop: a memoir, by Oscar Firkins

Other Related Materials

Archival manuscript material, sound recordings and published books donated to the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. by Dagmar Doneghy Beach in 1966.

Joseph Warren Beach papers, 1900-1993
Karen Klinkenberg
August, 3, 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University Archives Collecting Area