How do archives collect girl authors? In this interview series, we welcome curators and archivists to share how their institutions collect and utilize materials by girls who were or became published authors in their youth. Today, we look at the papers of Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949), best known as the author of Gone with the Wind. Special thanks to Serena McCracken, Research Manager at the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center.  

First edition cover of Gone with the Wind

What kinds of records do you keep relating to the author? 

Here is a link to all the collections we have regarding Margaret Mitchell. There are 49 in total and each one is quite extensive, and this is not counting the books we have regarding Mitchell. Here is a link to the books. I will highlight a couple of the collections and books below.

Books: This book covers Mitchell’s girlhood writings. Few people pull this book because it is prior to Gone With the Wind. We also have her personal correspondence in book form.

Manuscript Materials: This is our largest collection on Mitchell and includes correspondence, newspaper articles, and other printed materials that provide detail into Mitchell’s professional relationships with fans and publishers, as well as her involvement with the Atlanta Historical Society. We also have a scrapbook created by Ms. Mitchell in college and a photographic collection that documents her life.

Do you have physical objects in the archives from the author? 

  • Her house is a part of our historic house collection.
  • We also have her childhood doll, baptismal gown, a coat, and hat of hers, see this link.

How are the records utilized? Do researchers use items for books/articles or for historical research for movies or tv shows? 

Most people who come into the reading room to research Mitchell are most interested in her time with the Atlanta Journal and of course, Gone With the Wind. Patrons can only access the manuscript and photographic material, as her personal items do not have very much research value only exhibit value. And they are also extremely fragile. If someone has used our collections to write a book, we request that they send it to us when published, so many of the books in the collection are written with our resources. We have shifted the context in which we present Mitchell’s writings and life as her racism is often ignored. It is very important to highlight her bias in telling her story. Here is a great essay that gets down to the most unwritten parts of her life, which is also in our collection.

What is your favourite object/document/record in the collections related to this author? 

My favorite item regarding Mitchell is probably either the article I linked above or this book. The article is my favorite because it really eliminated the narrative of Mitchell being the ‘perfect southern woman’ and really told her story with facts. In terms of historical accuracy that would be my favorite. But the most enjoyable item to me is the Margaret Mitchell: reporter book because it really shows you how amazing of a writer she was even before Gone With the Wind and how she wrote as a journalist. 

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