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M. Margaret Anderson papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: IHRC203

Scope and Contents

This collection consists mostly of M Margaret . Anderson's private papers and works of fiction. In addition, some newspaper articles both by and about her are included. The material spans the years 1880 to 1976, although the majority of it centers on 1920's and 1930's. M. Margaret Anderson's Personal Papers and Records include two resumes/ biographical sketches which she herself wrote, one in the early 1958 and one after her retirement. Records from high school, Mt. Holyoke College, and Columbia University are present, in addition to her teaching certificates. Copies of her parents' emigration certificates, as well as articles discussing their marriage are also included. Finally, this folder contains a few letters pertaining to her teaching and retirement and an award for exceptional teaching service from Remus Point School District. In the News Clippings file are both articles written about her as well as those she herself has written. They deal mostly with her as editor of Common Ground and as a promoter of minority rights. They were written in the years 1943-1945, with one published in 1967. Her Poetry is also included in this collection, most of it written after she received her MA and was enrolled in graduated classes at Columbia (1932-35). Earlier poetry from her college years is included, as well as a few selections probably written in the 1940's. Writings from Graduate School, 1934-1935, include works of fiction she wrote in her graduate seminars at Columbia after receiving her MA. A Copy of her Novel, centering around the life of uncle O.W. Anderson is also included. While untitled and never published, it represents the work of many years of research and study, culminating in 158 pages of the life of her uncle, and his extended family. (including Margaret Anderson's facher.) The last folders include Publications in which her poetry and ocher writings were published. They include Roundtable from Mt. Holyoke College (1922), Columbia Poetry (1933-34), W (1934-35), Mt. Holyoke Alumnae Quarterly (1943) and Transatlantic (1945).

Included are also photographs and a collection of autographed books.


  • 1880-1976


Language of Materials



Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.


This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

For further information regarding the copyright, please contact the IHRCA.

Biographical Sketch

M. Margaret Anderson, born 8 December l902, was the daughter of two Swedish immigrants. She grew up in Jamestown, New York on a family farm. After graduating from Jamestown High School in 1919, she attended Mount Holyoke college. She graduated cum laude with a BA in history and social science in 1926, having taken two years off to help her family with the farm. In 1931, Margaret Anderson received her Masters and Teacher's Certificate from Columbia University, but continued her graduated education until 1936 with extension classes in English. She taught one year at Jamestown High in 1926-27, then moved to Canford, New Jersey, where she remained until 1940. There, she headed the English department and served as faculty adviser for the literary quarterly and the year book. During this time, she began researching the life of her uncle, O.W. Anderson, a Swedish immigrant who worked for Swedish-language newspapers in St. Paul, Minnesota and Jamestown, New York. This research led to a sabbatical in 1936, which she spent in Sweden looking for further information she hoped to use in a novel about her uncle. The research also helped Margaret Anderson come into contact with Louis Adamic, who was in the process of forming the Common Council for American Unity (CCAU). A successor of the Foreign Language Information Service, this organization sought both to serve recent and settled immigrants in their struggle to adapt to American life, and to help encourage understanding between different racial and ethnic groups living in the United States. Margaret Anderson helped found Common Ground, a literary magazine put out by the CCAU which focused on issues surrounding the interracial and intercultural aspect of the American population. She served as managing editor for one year, under Louis Adamic, and then as sole editor from 1941 to 1950, when production ended due to lack of funds. Margaret Anderson was committed to the integration of all those living in the United States into American life, and to the importance of national unity. While causing some controversy, Common Ground focused mostly on those ethnic groups which they felt had been most discriminated against-the Jews, Japanese, and African-Americans.

As editor, Margaret Anderson helped launch many new writers who focused mainly on multi-cultural issues. The True Believer, by Eric Hofter, Moscow-on-the-Hudson by M.K. Argus, and Woody Guthrie's Bound for Glory are some examples. After the demise of Common Ground, Margaret Anderson stayed with the Common Council for American Unity, doing free-lance editing and promotional work. In 1954 she began teaching again at Remus Point, New York, serving as head of the English department until her retirement in 1968. She then continued her research and translations of the work of her uncle, O.W. Anderson.


5 linear feet


Papers of M. Margaret Anderson consist of manuscripts and typescripts of her poem, short stories, noveles, and essays; news clippings; photocopies of her parents emigration records from Sweden; her report cards from grade and high school as well as university records; her university BA and MA certificates. Included are also photographs and a collection of autographed books.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Collection was acquired from the estate of M. Margaret Anderson, via William Beyer, in December 1989. Additional materials were donated by Margaret Beyer of St. Paul, Minnesota in 2022.


Related collections at the IHRC are: Records of American Council for Nationalities Services (New York, N.Y.); and Papers of Josephine Roche.

Processing Information

The collection was processed by Rachel Brucker, undergraduate student from Macalester College in June 1992. The project was directed by Joel Wurl, Curator of the IHRC Collection.

Inventory of the M. Margaret Anderson papers.
IHRC Archives
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding Aid in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Immigration History Research Center Archives Collecting Area