de Grummond Collection

McCain Library and Archives
University Libraries
University of Southern Mississippi


Collection Number
Collection Dates
Collection Volume
.90 cu.ft. (3 boxes)

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory


Purchased from unknown dealer ca. 1972.


Non-circulating; available for research.


This collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U. S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." 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, other than that noted above.

Biographical Sketch

Morgan van Roorbach Shepard ("John Martin") was born in Brooklyn, New York on April 8, 1865; however, Shepard's earliest childhood memories were of the Maryland plantation to which his family moved soon after his birth. Shepard's mother tutored him for the first ten years of his life, but following her death from cancer the boy spent an unhappy period being shifted through a succession of schools, both in Europe and America. At the age of sixteen he left home and adventured in Central and South America for a time.

Following his participation in a Central American revolution, Shepard returned to the United States and worked his way to California by undertaking a variety of jobs, including punching cattle, herding sheep and picking grapes. Once settled in California, Shepard supported himself by working as a street-car conductor, a newspaper reporter, and a bank clerk. In 1900 he married Mary Elliot Putnam.

Following his stint as a bank clerk, Shepard went into the publishing business and traveled to Europe to study printing and bookbinding. Upon his return to San Francisco he began a designing firm, which was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906. Shepard then took the pen name of John Martin and began earning extra money by writing children's verse and long, illustrated letters to children. In 1912, Shepard began publishing these letters as a monthly magazine entitled John Martin's Book. By 1925 the circulation of this magazine had reached forty thousand. Though Shepard considered the magazine a financial failure, it remained in publication for over twenty years.

Upon the discontinuation of John Martin's Book in 1933, Shepard was appointed juvenile director for the National Broadcasting Company through the influence of his friend Eleanor Roosevelt. Shepard was unhappy with his job at NBC, however, and was later fired. After his wife died in 1942, Shepard took up residence at the Players Club, a private social club for professional men in the arts, of which he had long been a member. He died on May 16, 1947 at the age of eighty-two.


Scope and Content

The collection contains personal information about John Martin, photographs, correspondence, a list of public appearances for the years 1933-1935, materials related to the magazine John Martin's Book, and typescripts and printed versions of Martin's poems as well as articles and other published items. In addition, the collection contains material that has remained unpublished or is otherwise unidentifiable. Numerous magazine and newspaper clippings, presumably collected by Martin, are also included.

The autobiographical material is of special interest in that it is particularly frank and personal; this is especially true of the lengthy childhood memoir, "A Mother." "News from Ha-Ha," a long letter illustrated by photographs and sketches, is an account of a summer spent camping with friends and relatives in the California redwoods; four poems are contained within the letter as well. A "Condensed Life Synopsis," written by Martin near the end of his life, relates more of his adult life, whereas "A Mother" concerns Martin's relationship with his mother during the first ten years of his life. "Men -- Don't You Remember?" is a fragment of another autobiographical sketch.

The correspondence is indicative of the friendship John Martin shared with President and Mrs. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There are nine letters between Martin and Eleanor Roosevelt or her secretaries, as well as correspondence between Martin and Anna Roosevelt Dall or her secretaries. The collection includes several letters relating to Martin's appointment as director of juvenile programming at NBC in 1933, as well as letters concerning the estate of Martin's sister.

Of the three photographs in the collection, two are of Martin; the other is of Martin, Eleanor Roosevelt and Merlin H. Aylesworth at an NBC broadcast of 1933. Included with the photographs is a contemporary newspaper clipping describing this broadcast. An annotated list of Martin's speaking engagements for 1933-1935 is evidentiary of his active role as a traveling lecturer following the discontinuation of John Martin's Book.

Concerning Martin's chief contribution to children's literature, the magazine John Martin's Book, the collection contains very little. Of special interest is a "formula" for drawing a Chubby Child. The Chubbies were a regular feature in John Martin's Book for the entirety of the magazine's run. There are also original illustrations and proofs of Chubbies. Five pages of "Muddle Mix-Ups" puzzles taken from John Martin's Book are typical of the sort of games and activities that appeared in the magazine, as are the paper dolls and their costumes. A promotional pamphlet from the 1920's encouraging subscrip-tions is also included, as well as a mailing envelope for John Martin's Book.

Martin's published poetry is represented by typescripts and published versions of his poem "These Things Are Free." Other published material includes Christmas booklets printed for Martin's personal use; "spool pet" toy cards, and a partial manuscript of an article later published in The Players Bulletin. Three issues of The Players Bulletin include articles and/or poems by Martin; one issue merely mentions him. Also included with the published material is a catalog for Lord and Taylor's Children's Shop that features toys and games designed by Martin.

Because of the age of the materials contained in this collection, it has been difficult to either determine if certain items were ever published or to positively identify such material. Therefore, a significant amount of material has been relegated to the status of "unpublished" or "unidentified." Among these unpublished or unidentified items are several book dummies, most of which contain original verse. Be Moar Free and Seein' Things are two such dummies. The dummy for Just Pals: Wagful Tails contains no text by Martin; it consists of artwork and paste-ups of text and pictures clipped from magazines. The typescript of Just Bill: Verses of a Reg'lar Boy contains a collection of related poems, some of which were published individually.

There are also two dummies for unidentified or unpublished magazines. John Martin's Happy Times, dated 1934, was perhaps to have succeeded John Martin's Book. The dummy for John Martin's Treasure Chest is undated. The content of both of these magazines, if published, would have been similar to that of John Martin's Book. Another magazine, untitled and apparently unpublished, is represented by illustrated designs of the cover and interior pages.

John Martin's poetry is represented both by single poems and by collections compiled by the poet. "Children -- Their Five Senses," "Joy," and "Just Let" (also titled "Let God") are individual poems; collections of poems include "Christmas Verses -- Personal and General -- 1936," "Sonnets: The Man, the House and Cat," and an untitled collection of twenty-six poems, some of which appear in the form of letters.

Unpublished or unidentified articles written by Martin include "The Battlefield (Shoot-to-Kill Toys)," a diatribe against toy soldiers and weapons; "A Prayer Up There," probably intended for publication in The Players Bulletin, and "What a Book Should Be," which includes a list of sixty children's books selected by Martin as outstanding. All of these articles appear in typescript form; for the latter article there is also a published copy.

Miscellaneous materials consist of a typescript outlining a Christmas decoration theme for Wanamaker's department store and a dummy of the accompanying promotional booklet that was to have been issued by Wanamaker's.

Martin was recognized as something of an expert on children in his later years, and he used his reputation to preach against what he perceived to be the bad influences of such modern media as radio and motion pictures. Reflecting this attitude are a number of newspaper and magazine clippings, presumably collected by Martin, that chiefly relate to the influence of radio and film on children.

Related Collection

The de Grummond Collection holds scattered issues of John Martin`s Book ranging from vol. 1, no. 1 (November 1912) to vol. 47, no. 2 (February 1933). Also, the Henry Pitz Papers (DG0782) may contain material of interest. Pitz was a frequent contributor to John Martin`s Book, and Martin's personal Christmas cards contained in this collection were illustrated by Pitz.

Series and Subseries

A. Autobiographical and Biographical Material (1894, ca. 1945, undated)

B. Correspondence (1933, 1946-1947)

C. Photographs ([1933], undated)

D. Speeches and Public Appearances (ca. 1933)

E. Magazines (ca. 1922, undated)

F. Poetry (1935, undated)

G. Other Published Material (1928-1947, undated)

H. Unpublished and Unidentified Material (1934-1947, undated)




Articles Miscellaneous

I. Articles Collected by Martin (1926-1933, undated)

Box Inventory


A. Autobiographical and Biographical Material

1/1 Typescript, "Condensed Life Synopsis" by John Martin, ca. 1945, 33 pp. 1/2 Typescript, "Men -- Don't You Remember? Late Victorian Memories of Boyhood" by John Martin, undated, 2 pp. 1/3 Typescript, corrected, "A Mother" by John Martin, undated, 121 pp. 1/4 Typescript, "A Mother" by John Martin, undated, 122 pp. 1/5 Manuscript/letter, "News from Ha-Ha," with photographs, pastel and ink sketches, by Morgan Shepard, 1894, 49 pp.

B. Photographs

1/6 Of Martin, undated; of Martin, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Merlin H. Aylesworth, [1933], 3 items. Newspaper clipping related to photograph of Martin, Roosevelt and Aylesworth, [1933].

C. Correspondence

1/7 Between Martin, Eleanor Roosevelt and her secretaries, 1933, 9 items. 1/8 Between Martin, Anna Roosevelt Dall and her secretary, 1933, 9 items. 1/9 Relating to the appointment of Martin as Juvenile Director at NBC, 1933, 5 items. 1/10 Concerning the estate of Martin's sister, 1946-47, 7 items.

D. Speeches and Public Appearances

1/11 Schedule of addresses from 6 September 1933 to 23 May, 1935, annotated, 5 pp.

E. Magazines

2/1 Formula for drawing a Chubby Child, undated, 1 p. Illustrations of Chubby Children, ink and watercolor, undated, 14 items. Proofs of Chubbies illustrations, undated, 4 items. "Muddle Mix-Ups" puzzles from John Martin's Book, with graphite tracings, undated, 6 items. Paper dolls, costumes and accessories, hand-colored, clipped from issues of John Martin's Book: Alice in Wonderland, January 1930, 8 items; Peter Pan, ca. 1930, 2 items; Robin Hood and Maid Marian, May 1931, 5 items; Robinson Crusoe and Friday, June 1931, 9 items; Unidentified dolls of various nationalities and historical periods, ca. 1931, 44 items; Unidentified national and historical costumes for dolls, ca. 1931, 65 items; Unidentified hats and other accessories, ca. 1931, 102 items. Promotional pamphlet for John Martin's Book, "The Story of the House that You Built," ca. 1922, 6 pp. Mailing envelope for John Martin's Book, undated.

F. Poetry

"These Things Are Free" 2/2 Typescript, "Free," undated. Typescript, carbon copy, "These Things Are Free," undated Newspaper clippings, undated, 2 items. Magazine clipping, 1935. Printed copies, undated, 2 items.

G. Other Published Material

2/3 Christmas booklets printed for Martin's personal use; three contain verse by Martin and two are illustrated by Henry Pitz, 1928, undated, 4 items. 2/4 John Martin's Spool Pet cards, numbers 1-6, with accompanying letter and original envelope, 1931. 2/5 Partial manuscript "Mickey Cat, Esq.," undated, 1 p. Four issues of The Players Bulletin: March 1945: Article and poem "John's Manhole," pp. [3-4]. November 1945: Article "An Important Member" and poem "Here's to Mickey," p. [4]. February 1946: Poem "My Home," p. [5]. March 1947: Martin mentioned on p. [11]. 2/6 Catalog for Lord & Taylor Children's Shop, "John Martin's Gifts for Children," undated, 4 pp.

H. Unpublished and Unidentified Material

Books 2/7 Dummy, Be Moar Free: A Pome of Long Ago by Peter Potter [Morgan Shepard], undated, 31 pp. 2/8 Typescript and printed matter for Just Bill: Verses of a Reg'lar Boy by John Martin, undated, 41 pp. 2/9 Dummy, Just Pals: Wagful Tails by John Martin, undated, 8 pp. 2/10 Dummy, Seein' Things by John Martin, undated, 32 pp. Magazines 3/1 Dummy, John Martin's Happy Times, 1934, 4 pp. Dummy, John Martin's Treasure Chest, undated, 34 pp. Designs for cover and interior pages of unidentified magazine, 11 items. Poetry 3/2 "Children -- Their Five Senses" Typescript, corrected, undated, 2 pp. Typescript, carbon copy, corrected, undated, 3 pp. Typescript, final copy, undated, 3 pp. 3/3 "Christmas Verses, Personal & General -- 1936" Manuscript and typescript poems, 9 pp. Manuscript and typescript lists of Christmas correspondents, 5 pp. 3/4 "Joy" Photograph with verse, undated. 3/5 "Just Let" ("Let God") Typescript, "Just Let," undated. Typescript, "Let God," undated. Typescript, corrected, "Let God," undated. 3/6 "Sonnets: The Man, the House and Cat" Typescript, carbon copy, corrected, of 53 sonnets, undated. 3/7 Miscellaneous Poems Manuscripts and typescripts of twenty-six poems (some in the form of letters), 1934, 1940, 1944-45, 1947, undated, 25 pp.


3/8 "The Battlefield (Shoot-to-Kill Toys)" Typescript, edited, undated, 6 pp. "A Prayer Up There" Typescript, carbon copy, edited, undated, 5 pp. Typescript, carbon copy, edited, undated, 5 pp. "What a Book Should Be" Typescript, undated, 5 pp. Printed copy, undated, 2 pp. Miscellaneous Typescript, "A Decorative Plan for the Christmas Season at John Wanamaker's With a Kindred Booklet and Story for Publication," undated (1928?), 7 pp. Dummy for Wanamaker's Christmas promotional booklet "The Snow Queen and Santa Claus," undated (1928?), 9 pp.

I. Articles Collected by Martin

1/12 Newspaper and magazine clippings, chiefly related to the influence of radio and film on children, 1926, 1929, 1931-33, undated, 25 items.

Processed: October 1991
Revised: June 2001

Biographical Sketch | Scope & Content | Related Collections | Series & Subseries | Box Inventory
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The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection

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