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Kate O'Flaherty Chopin Papers, 1855-1975

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Identifier: A0273

Title: Kate O'Flaherty Chopin Papers, 1855-1975


Thomas O'Flaherty was a wealthy Irish immigrant who married into an old French Creole family. His daughter Kate received a traditional Catholic education, which she supplemented by reading contemporary European literature. She married Oscar Chopin in 1870 and moved to Louisiana where she had six children. After her husband's death in 1883, she undertook the management of the plantations, apparently quite successfully. She carried on this work for more than a year, but finally yielded to her mother's urging to return to St. Louis. In 1884, she came back to St. Louis and at age 36 she began to write. Some of her published works include The Awakening (1899), At Fault (1890), A Night in Acadie (1897), and Bayou Folk (1894), as well as numerous poems and short stories. Until the early 1960s, she was best known as a local colorist, since most of her short stories dealt with scenes from Creole Louisiana. With the recent interest in women's studies, her works, and primarily her novel The Awakening, which concerns a woman's sexual awakening, have been reexamined extensively.

This collection consists of holograph manuscripts and published copies of many of Kate Chopin's short stories, poems, and translations from the French of Guy de Maupassant's short stories. The collection also includes some correspondence from friends regarding The Awakening, 1899; two commonplace books or copybooks, 1860 and 1867-1870, the latter of which contains a diary of her 1870 wedding trip; an original manuscript book, 1894-1896, which also includes diary entries; and two account and memoranda notebooks that record her manuscript submissions to publishers, giving title, publication, date accepted/published/amount, 1888-1895 and 1888-1902. The collection also includes biographical information on Kate Chopin, copies of scholarly essays by Per Seyersted and Bernard J. Koloski, and papers on Kate Chopin by participants in the 1974 Chopin seminar. Papers were lent to Father Daniel S. Rankin for research by the Chopin family. Father Rankin turned the bulk of them over to the University of Pennsylvania Special Collections. This body was then transferred to the Missouri Historical Society at the wish of the Chopin family. The addition was found in a storage locker owned by Father Rankin in 1991, and forwarded to the Missouri Historical Society by the University of Pennsylvania Special Collections. The collection contains "at risk" original manuscripts, which should not be routinely retrieved. They may be viewed by researchers only where examination of photocopies (found in the first three boxes) proves insufficient for research purposes.

Finding aid available. See also guide to the Per Seyersted Collection at the archives reference desk.

4 boxes of original documents; 2 boxes of preservation copies

Cite as: Kate O'Flaherty Chopin Papers, Missouri History Museum Archives, St. Louis.

Rights: UND


Dates: 1855-1975

Type(s): Documentary Artifacts

Maker/Creator: Chopin, Kate, 1850-1904

Subjects: Authors
Women authors
Short stories
Publishers and publishing
Books and reading


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