For Hemingway’s birthday, visit his papers

By Christopher B. Daly 

This Sunday, July 21, is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway — journalist, novelist, man of letters, beau ideal of a certain interpretation of masculinity. He would have been 114.

There are probably lots of ways to observe his birthday: you could go out and kill a top predator (like a lion or marlin), or you could go drinking and get a bartender at a famous bar to name a drink after you, or you could run with the bulls at San Fermin, or you could try to write ten simple declarative sentences in a row.

Alternatively, you could “visit” with Hemingway by rummaging around in his vast trove of papers and photos, which are archived as the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. Much of the Hemingway collection remains to be digitized, so the only way to see most of those documents and objects is to visit the JFK Library, which would not be the worst thing — it sits right over Boston Harbor. But if you visit the website, you can click on the “media gallery” and cruise through Hemingway’s own photos.

If the heatwave continues, try looking through the photos that feature Hemingway in the Alps. He is somewhere in this group bobsledding in Montreux. Enjoy.


[Postscript: The Hemingway Collection site also offers an explanation for why the collection is housed at the JFK Library, which is not an obvious connection. I have not done any research into this question, so I can’t evaluate the accuracy or completeness of this version, but it’s worth reading.]

Update: The Boston Globe reports that the JFK Library has digitized the scrapbooks kept by Hemingway’s mother, which document his childhood. The Library has posted them on the website, too.


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Filed under history, Journalism, journalism history

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