Frances Frost Papers, 1936-1959 (MSS 0007)

Access: Collection is open for research.

Extent: 1.1 Linear feet (3 archives boxes)

Papers of an American author and mother of the poet Paul Blackburn. The materials, originally part of the Paul Blackburn papers, include a small selection of Frost's writings, memorabilia, and correspondence. Included is correspondence with Frost's father, Amos Frost, her son, Paul Blackburn, other members of the Frost and Blackburn families, and correspondence regarding Frost's 1936 novel INNOCENT SUMMER.

Frances Mary Frost contributed to contemporary literature both through her own writing and through the advise and encouragement she provided her son, the poet Paul Blackburn. The daughter of Amos and Susan Frost, Frances was born in St. Albans, Vermont, 3 August 1905. Her father was a railroad engineer for most of his adult life, and the Frosts were a religious, working-class couple whose values and perspective on life permeated most of Frances' poetry and prose. Before leaving Vermont in the 1930's, Frost attended Middlebury College and received a Ph.B. from the University of Vermont in 1931.

Frost's first marriage was to William Blackburn, with whom she had two children--Paul and Jean. Frost and Blackburn separated in 1929, after the birth of their daughter, and the two children were left to be raised by their maternal grandfather, Amos Frost. Following Frances' graduation from the University of Vermont, she moved to New York City and married Samuel G. Stoney, the author of Black Genesis.

Frost's first success at publishing poetry came in the early 1930's, with such works as "Hemlock Wall," "Blue Harvest," and "These Acres." In 1933 she was awarded the Katherine Lee Bates poetry prize by the New England Poetry Club, and in 1934 she won the Shelley Memorial Award. She published the first of her four novels, INNOCENT SUMMER, in 1936, and the most popular of her novels, YOKE OF STARS, became a best seller. Frost also published a number of children's stories, including LEGENDS OF THE UNITED NATIONS, THE WINDY FOOT SERIES, THE CAT THAT WENT TO COLLEGE, and ROCKET AWAY.

Although Frost's children were raised by their grandparents, Frances always stayed in close contact with them. After the breakup of her second marriage, Frances returned to Vermont and took permanent custody of her son Paul, who returned to New York to live with her. Frost's daughter, Jean, remained in Vermont with her grandparents. In 1954 Jean became a nun with the Order of St. Joseph in Vermont. Paul lived with his mother until 1946, when he joined the army and served as a laboratory technician in Colorado. While Paul was in the army and overseas, him and his mother continued to offer each other both professional and personal direction through their frequent correspondence.

Frost published a number of children's books during the 1940's and 1950's, but she continued to write poetry whenever possible. Her poems appeared in such publications as THE NEW YORKER, THE SATURDAY EVENING POST, and AMERICAN MERCURY. She continued to live in New York until her death of cancer in 1959.

The papers document the career and personal life of Frances Frost. Although a few items, such as Frost's babybook, relate to her early life, the majority of the collection deals with her activities after 1940. The collection is organized into four series: 1) WRITINGS, 2) MEMORABILIA, 3) CORRESPONDENCE WITH AMOS FROST, and 4) GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE.


The WRITINGS, arranged alphabetically, contain original typescripts of Frost's published and unpublished work. There are seven pieces in the series, including "Woman of the Earth"--a book-length poem, and INNOCENT SUMMER, Frost's first published novel.


The series MEMORABILIA consists of a wide range of materials relating to Frost's career and personal life. There are two folders, one kept by Frost and the other by Paul Blackburn, that contain clippings of some of Frost's published work. The folder titled "Clippings on Frances Frost's Life, Work," contains stories on her career and reviews of some of her published work. There are also two folders containing photographs of friends and family.


Over half of the collection consists of correspondence. The most prolific correspondent represented in the collection is Frost's father, whose letters are collected in a separate series: CORRESPONDENCE WITH AMOS FROST. This series is organized chronologically, with the letters dated from 1941 through 1957. There is also a folder containing undated correspondence, and another that contains a postcard sent from Frances Frost to her father.


The GENERAL CORRESPONDENCE, arranged chronologically, consists of letters written to and from Frost. Among the most frequent writers are her children--Paul and Jean Blackburn, and an aunt--Agnes Keefe. This series also contains letters written from Frost to Paul Blackburn and N. Carr Grace.

Container List


Box: 1 Folder: 1
"Ballad of Miss Mew and Mister Purr," a poem


Box: 1 Folder: 2
"Ballad of the Portsmouth Ride," a poem


Box: 1 Folder: 3
"Finny La Garr," a short story


Box: 1 Folder: 4
"First Frost," a poem


Box: 1 Folder: 5


Box: 1 Folder: 6


Box: 1 Folder: 7
"Railroad Song for my Father," a poem


Box: 1 Folder: 8
Woman of this Earth, a book-length poem



Box: 1 Folder: 9
Notebook from Paul Blackburn's childhood containing clippings of poems by F.F.
Box: 1 Folder: 10
Loose poem clippings by Frost
Box: 1 Folder: 11
Frost's babybook
Box: 1 Folder: 12
Photo album, largely MacDowell Art Colony people
Box: 1 Folder: 13
Miscellaneous Photos
Box: 1 Folder: 14
Newspaper clippings on Frost's life, work
Box: 1 Folder: 15
Box: 1 Folder: 16
Miscellaneous newspaper clippings


Box: 1 Folder: 17
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1941 - 1947

29 TL

Box: 2 Folder: 1
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1948 - 1957

n.d. 112 TL, 1 PC

Box: 2 Folder: 2
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1948 - 1957

n.d. 112 TL, 1 PC

Box: 2 Folder: 3
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1948 - 1957

n.d. 112 TL, 1 PC

Box: 2 Folder: 4
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1948 - 1957

n.d. 112 TL, 1 PC

Box: 2 Folder: 5
Letters of Amos Frost to Frances Frost, 1948 - 1957

n.d. 112 TL, 1 PC

Box: 2 Folder: 6
Letters of Frances Frost to Amos Frost



Box: 2 Folder: 7
Blackburn, Gordon, 1944 - 1950


Box: 2 Folder: 8
Blackburn, Jean, 1948 - 1952

38 ALs; 1 APC, 1 APCs, Ephemera

Box: 2 Folder: 9
Blackburn, Jean, 1948 - 1952

38 ALs; 1 APC, 1 APCs, Ephemera

Box: 2 Folder: 10
Blackburn, Jean, 1948 - 1952

38 ALs; 1 APC, 1 APCs, Ephemera

Box: 2 Folder: 11
Blackburn, Paul- From, 1943 - 1951


Box: 2 Folder: 12
Blackburn, Paul- To, 1949 - 1959

4TLs, 1AL; Ephemera

Box: 2 Folder: 13
Carr, Grace N., 1946 - 1948

Letters to. 2TLs; Ephemera

Box: 3 Folder: 1
Keefe, Agnes, 1951 - 1952

10ALs; 1APCs; Ephemera

Box: 3 Folder: 2
[Keefe?], Doris, 1951 - 1951

2ALs; Ephemera

Box: 3 Folder: 3
[Porter?], Celeste, 1951 - 1951

1ALs, 5TLs; 2APCs, 1TPCs

Box: 3 Folder: 4
Letters to Frost concerning novel Innocent Summer, 1936 - 1936

8ALs, 1TL

Box: 3 Folder: 5
Misc. Letters to Frost

1ALs, 1TL, 1TLs; 1TPC