Herbert Hoover Presidential Library

West Branch, Iowa


The papers of Isabel M. Paterson document the life and career of novelist, book review columnist, and conservative political commentator Paterson (1886-1961).  The collection was acquired from the executor of Paterson’s estate in three accessions in 1995, 1997, and 1999, and consists of approximately 7.8 linear feet of manuscript and published material.




Novelist and newspaper columnist Isabel Paterson was born Isabel Bowler on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada on January 22, 1886.  When she was very young, her family moved to the West, and she grew up on a cattle ranch in Alberta.  A voracious reader who was largely self-educated, her public schooling during these years was brief and informal—two years in a country school, from the ages of 11 to 14.  In her late teen years, she left the ranch for the city of Calgary, where she took a clerical job with the Canadian Pacific Railroad.  At the age of 24, she entered into a short-lived marriage with Kenneth Paterson.


It was during these years, in a foray south of the border, that she landed a job with a newspaper in Spokane, Washington.  Initially she worked in the business department of the paper, but was eventually transferred to the editorial department, and her journalistic career began.  Her next position was that with a newspaper in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she wrote dramatic reviews for two years.  She eventually moved to New York, where she landed jobs working on the feature page of the New York American, as well as in the editorial department of Hearst’s Magazine.  One of her earlier assignments for the American was to write about an hour-long flight she had made in an open cockpit airplane in 1912, which was still quite a novelty at that time. 


In 1922 she joined the staff of the New York Herald-Tribune, where she remained until 1949.  At this newspaper, she wrote daily book reviews, as well as pieces for the Sunday Books section.  She was best known, however, for her weekly column “Turns With a Bookworm,” which mixed literary anecdotes and reviews with her evolving conservative political views.  During these years she also published a number of novels of her own, including The Shadow Riders (1916), The Singing Season (1924), The Road of the Gods (1930), Never Ask the End (1932) and If It Proves Fair Weather (1940).  Her best known work was a non-fictional one, however, The God in the Machine (1943).  Conservative and libertarian thinkers have cited this defense of the right to property and individual free will as an influential work alongside Rose Wilder Lane’s The Discovery of Freedom and Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead.  It also provided the intellectual underpinnings of the conservative views that found their way into her Herald-Tribune columns, including her refusal to accept Social Security benefits since they were in contradiction to her antipathy for the New Deal.


After leaving the Herald-Tribune, Paterson continued to write and publish, and a few of her articles made their way into William Buckley’s National Review, among other publications.  Isabel Paterson died at the home of her close friends, Muriel and Edward Hall, in Montclair, New Jersey on January 10, 1961.


Scope and content


The papers of Isabel Paterson are divided into the following series:


General name and subject file (2.3 linear feet): Largely comprised of correspondence, including files from fellow writers Will Cuppy, Rose Wilder Lane, and Ayn Rand.  Although most of this correspondence dates from her lifetime, also included are files from scholars interested in her work in the decades following her death.


Writings (1.8 linear feet): This series includes correspondence about her works, drafts of published articles, and manuscripts for a few of her books, including The Singing Season and The God of the Machine.  Among the correspondents are editors from magazines that she published in, including John Chamberlain of Freeman and William Buckley, Jr. of The National Review.


Legal (0.4 linear foot): These files include documents relating to property she owned, settlement of her estate, and her naturalization as a U.S. citizen in 1928.


Book Collection (3.3 linear feet): Books owned by Paterson, often with underlining and annotations in her own hand.




Box and Folder Inventory




1                  Name and Subject




            A – B, Miscellaneous, 1927-49


            American Legion Controversy, 1951


            Balch, Earl, 1945


            Busey, Garreta


 Letters From Isabel Paterson, 1936, Undated


                                                 Letters To Isabel Paterson, 1928-49


                                                 Letters To Muriel Hall, 1962-65


                                    C – D, Miscellaneous, Undated


                                    Coleman, Alta May, Undated


                                    Censorship, 1946


                                    Cox, Stephen, 1988-98


                                    Cuppy, Will


                                                To Isabel Paterson, Undated


Folder 1


                                                            Folder 2


                                                            Folder 3


                                    Edmunds, Everard, 1956


                                    Education in the United States, 1953-59



Name and Subject


                                    Correspondence, Continued


                                                Elson, Robert T., 1957


Farley, Lillian (Dina) Fischer, (Originals at New York Public








Field, Rachel, 1930


Fischer, Lillian, 1927-58


                                                Gilbert, Rodney, 1957


                                                Glenn, Isa, 1931-32


                                                Griffith, H.M., 1952


                                                Hall, Ted, Undated


                                                Hall, Muriel






                                                Henry, R.S.












                                                Herdman, Ramona, 1950-59

Hitchcock, Harry, 1929


                                                Hoiles, R.C., 1950-62


                                                Kirk, Dr. Russell, 1964-65


                                                Knowlton, Marcus and Meredith, 1959


                                                Lane, Rose Wilder, 1932-45


                                                Lecomte de Nouy, Mr. And Mrs. Pierre, 1947-56


                                                LeFerre, Robert, 1960-64


                                                Luckhart, Grace, 1927-61, Undated


                                                Manion, Clarence, 1949


                                                McGinnis, Dick, Undated


                                                Mitchison, N., Undated


                                                Paterson, Isabel (To Muriel Hall)










                                                            1957, Folder 1




                                                R Miscellaneous, 1935-49


Rand, Ayn


                                                            From Isabel Paterson, 1943-48


                                                            To Isabel Paterson, 1943-50


                                                Roberts, Nat, 1929-35, Undated


                                                Rascoe, Burton, 1945


                                                S Miscellaneous, 1938-60


                                                Scholars Interested in Isabel Paterson, 1969-73


                                                Social Security, 1937-55


                                                Stribling, T.S., Undated


                                                Sprague, Ted and Grace, Undated


                                                Stone, Grace, Undated


                                                T-Y Miscellaneous, 1923-46


                                                Teale, Edwin Way, 1949-50


                                                Unidentified, 1908-16


                                                Vogt, Gertrude, 1950-61


                                                Wall, Mildred, 1952-61


                                                Welles, Mary and Samuel, 1936-43, Undated


                                                Welles, Ted, 1949-85


                                                Wylie, Elinor, Undate


                                    Cuppy, Will, clippings, 1927, Undated


                                    New York Herald Tribune, Personnel Obituaries, 1953-83


Paterson, Isabel, Personal


                                                Addresses, 1942, Undated


                                                Articles About Isabel Paterson, 1912-43


                                                Christmas, Undated


                                                Family Correspondence, 1933-1954


                                                Linoleum Block, Undated


                                                Miscellaneous1944-59, Undated


                                                Notebook, blank


                                                Newspaper Clippings, 1916-1960


                                                Photographs (Copies), Undated


                                                Quotes, 1958-1960


                                                Tombstone, 1962


                                    Rand, Ayn


Lecture, 1960


                                                Clipping, 1945


                                    Thomas, M.J., Poems, Undated






                                                Annotated by Isabel Paterson, 1939-44


                                                “The Astonishing Creature – The Baby,” May, 1949


                                                “Humanitarian With Guillotine,” 1955


                                                “Learning to Read,” 1937




                                    Articles, Continued                                          


“A Man of Destiny,” 1956


                                                “Murphy,” 1928


                                                Newark Evening News, 1960


                                                New York Herald Tribune, 1924-38, 1949


                                                “The Oracles are Dumb,” 1956


                                                “Reading Without Tears, Cows, or Chickens,” Undated


                                                Sketches for Newspaper Articles, Undated


                                                “The Southern Breakthrough,” 1955


                                                “Turns With A Bookworm,” 1932-48


                                                “We Were the Cowith-an,” Undated


                                                “What Do They Do All Day?,” Undated


                                                Written by other authors, 1930-64




                                                Ashville Chamber of Commerce, 1924


                                                B Miscellaneous, 1942-49


                                                Benson, Arthur C., Undated


                                                Book Reviews, 1932


                                                Bradley, J.G., 1949


                                                Buckley, William F., Jr., 1954-62


                                                Buffett, Howard, 1952


                                                C – D Miscellaneous



                                    Correspondence, Continued


                                                Cabell, James Branch, 1930-36


                                                Chamberlain, John, 1953


                                                Colum, Padraic, 1944


                                                Columbia Lecture Bureau, Inc., 1949


                                                Crane, Jasper, 1944-54


                                                E Miscellaneous


                                                Fake, Guy L., 1943-48


                                                Fuller, Selma and Henry, 1953


                                                Gannett, Frank, 1945


                                                G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1942-44


                                                Greenewatt, C.H., 1952-59


                                                “Georgia Review,” 1948-49


                                                H Miscellaneous, 1934-58


                                                Harper Brothers, 1915


                                                Hicks, Hamilton, Undated


                                                J Miscellaneous, 1951


                                                Josenhans, M. Alma, Undated


                                                L Miscellaneous, 1931-48


                                                M Miscellaneous, 1931-47


                                                Mitchison, Maomi, Undated


                                                Nelson, Frederick, 1957-59





                                                New York Herald Tribune, 1949-52


                                                Opitz, Edmund, A.1959


P – R Miscellaneous, 1944-56


                                                Palmer, Paul1945-47


                                                Read, Thomas, 19335-42


                                                Rejection of Manuscripts, 1914-15


                                                Ridenour, Louis N., 1946


                                                S Miscellaneous, 1922-59


                                                Saturday Evening Post, 1957-59


                                                Stout, Wesley W., 1939-44


                                                T – Y Miscellaneous, 1949-57


                                                Unidentified, 1950-56


                                                Van Doren, Irita, 1940


                                                Wall, Mildred, 1958-59


                                                Wilder, Thornton, 1927


                                                Natural Law, 1951-54


                                                “Never Ask the End,” 1933-49


                                                Rejection Letters, 1942


                                                “Theory of Equilibrium,” 1951-55


                                                Vogt, Gertrude, 1950-61






Correspondence, Continued                


Miscellaneous Copies










                                    Draft Notes


                                                General, Undated


                                                “How Can I Get Past the (Deleted) Conservatives?” Undated


                                                “Law and Liberty,” Undated


                                                Republican Party, 1954


                                                “States Rights” Proposal, 1951-52




                                                “Did I Ask to Be Born?”


                                                            Working Copy


                                                            Final Copy


                                                Fragments From Novels, Undated


                                                 “God of the Machine”


                                                            1943, Summary for “Book Digest”


                                                            1945, Correspondence


                                                            Undated, Notes by Ted and Muriel Hall


                                                “God of the Machine”


Undated, Notes of Isabel Paterson


                                                “Joyous Gard” ca. 1958


Annotated Copy


                                                                        Chapters 1-13


                                                                        Chapters 14-25


                                                            Clear Copy


                                                                        Chapters 1-13


                                                                        Chapters 14-25


                                                            Early Copy


                                                                        Pages 14-82


                                                                        Pages 83-191


                                                            Attempts to Get Published, 1951-58




                                                                        Chapters 1 and 2


                                                                        Chapter 1


                                                                        Burned Copy


                                                                                    Chapters 15-22


                                                                                    Chapters 23-25


                                                “The Singing Season”


                                                            Chapters 1-16


                                                            Chapters 17-30


                                                            Correspondence, 1923


                                                Reviews of Her Books, 1916, Undated


                        Legal Papers


                                    Banking, 1925, 1956-59


                                    Disposition of Papers, 1961-79


                                    General, 1910-57


                                    Immigration Papers, 1920-28


                                    Real Estate


                                                Connecticut Property






                                                New Jersey Property, 1942-60


                                    Royalties, 1933-49


                                    Taxes, 1926-64


                                    Will and Death Certificate, 1961


                                    Writing Contracts, 1915-42



                        Book Collection


                                    Annotated Materials


                                                Copies of Notes by Isabel Paterson


                                                            “Einstein” by P. Frank


                                                            “Elizabeth” by M. Waldman


                                                            “Founding Fathers” by K. Umbrett


                                                            “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand


                                                            “God of the Machine” by Isabel Paterson


                                                            “Grey Eminence” by A. Huxley


                                                            “High Stakes and Hair Trigger” by R. W. Winston


                                                            “Kilvert’s Diary” by W. Plomer


                                                            “Letters of Madame” by G. S. Stevenson


“The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay” by G. O.




                                                            “The Life of Samuel Johnson” by J. Boswell


                                                            “The Novels of Jane Austin” by R. W. Chapman


                                                            “Out of the Earth” by L. Bromfield


                                                            “Pensees” by Pascal


                                                            “The Pentateuch” by J. W. Colenso


                                                            “Portrait of Pascal” by M. Duclaux


                                                            “The Road to Xanadu” by J. L. Lowes


                                                            “Russia Under the Tzars” by Stepniak


Book Collection


Annotated Materials


Copies of Notes by Isabel Paterson, Continued


“Science and Christian Tradition” by T. H. Huxley


                                                            “The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy” by E. Gilson


                                                            “Taft and Roosevelt” by A. Butt


                                                            “They Told Barron” by C. W. Barron


                                                            “Travels in France and Italy” by A. Young


                                                            “The Unity of Philosophical Experience” by E. Gilson


                                                            “Voltaire” by Brandes


                                                            “The Wealth of Nation” by A. Smith


                                                            Inscriptions to Isabel Paterson


“National Review” August-September, 1960, January-


February, 1970


“The Freeman” 1950-52


                                    Titles of Books in Collection


                                                Adlington, Richard, “The Duke: A Life of Wellington, 1943


                                                Brandes, George, “Voltaire”


                                                            Volume 1, 1930


                                                            Volume 2, 1930


                                                Bromfield, Louis, “Out of the Earth,” 1950


                                                Catlin, George, North American Indians, Volume 1, 1857


Chamberlain, Pressey Walters, “Living, Reading, and Thinking,”




Fitzgerald, Edward, “The Rubiyat of Omar Khayyan”


                                                Chesnut, Mary Boykin, “A Diary From Dixie,” 1949


                                                Duclaux, Mary, “Portrait of Pascal,” 1927


                                                Du Nouy, Lecomte, “Human Destiny,” 1947


                                                Du Nouy, Mary, “The Road to Human Destiny,” 1955


                                                Ford, Ford Madox, “The Last Post,” 1928 (Two Copies)


                                                Frank Philipp, “Einstein,” 1947


 16                                           Gilson, Etienne


“The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy,” 1940


                                                            “The Unity of Philosophical Experience,” 1947


                                                Hughes, Philip, “A History of the Church,” Volume 3, 1947


                                                Hughes, Richard, “A High Wind in Jamaica,” 1932


                                                Huxley, T.H., “Science and Christian Tradition,” 1895


                                                O”Neill, Moira, “Songs of the Glens of Antrim,” 1916


                                                Plomer, Ed., “Kilvert’s Diary,” 1947


                                                Potter, George Richard, “Sir Thomas More,” 1925


                                                Pound, Arthur, Ed., “They Told Barron,” 1817


                                                Pascal, Blaise, “Pensees,” 1941


Paterson, Isabel


                                                            “The Fourth Queen,” 1926


                                                            “God of the Machine”


1943 (2 Copies)


                                                                        1964 (Reprint)


“If It Prove Fair Weather,” 1940 (2 Copies)


 18                                                       “Golden Vanity,” 1934


“The Magpies Nest,” 1917


                                                            “Mai Domander La Fine,” 1933


                                                            “Never Ask the End,” 1930


                                                            “The Road of the Gods,” 1930


                                                            “The Shadow Riders,” 1916


                                                Tate, Allen, “Jefferson Davis,” 1929


U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, “In the Matter of J. Robert


Oppenheimer,” 1954


                                                Roscoe, Burton, “Titans of Literature,” 1932


                                                Spencer Herbert, “The Man Versus the State,” 1940


                                                Swinburne, Algernon Charles, “Poems,” 1905 (4 Volumes)


                                                Wylie, Elinor, “Collected Prose,” 1933