Edwin L. Sabin papers
L. Tom Perry Special Collections is pleased to announce the availability of a new digitized collection: Edwin L. Sabin papers (MSS SC 1072b). Collection includes holograph and typed letters received by Sabin. Many of these materials relate to Sabin’s research on Kit Carson, and include answers to Sabin’s inquiries regarding the personality, appearance, and activities of Carson. The information was of use to Sabin in his book “Kit Carson Days (1809-1868)” published in 1914 and in its revised edition of 1935. Also included are letters that relate to Sabin’s efforts to get photographs of the American West. Dated 1885-1924.
Biographical Note from “Guide to Edwin L. Sabin papers” at the University of Iowa Special Collections:
Edwin Legrand Sabin was born on December 23, 1870 in Rockford, Illinois. Before he was a year old, his father, the educator Henry Sabin, moved the family to Clinton, Iowa. Edwin Sabin grew up in that river town and graduated from Clinton High School in 1888. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa with Phi Beta Kappa honors. Sabin then went to work as a reporter for various newspapers in Iowa and Illinois. In May 1893, he joined an expedition to the Bahamas organized by Charles C. Nutting, a professor of zoology and curator of the University of Iowa’s natural history museum. Sabin resumed his newspaper work upon his return. While working in Chicago, he met Mary Nicole Nash. They were married on October 7, 1896.
Sabin began publishing poetry and short stories in nationally known magazines around the turn of the century. His work appeared in The Chautauquan, St. Nicholas, Country Life, and many others. In 1902, he wrote his first children’s book. Slowly his attention began to focus on the West, and encouraged by his publisher he turned his talents in that direction. His western historical fiction was highly researched and he was proud of its accuracy. He and his wife moved to La Jolla, California in 1913, so he could be closer to his subject matter.
The years 1913-1931 were fruitful ones for Sabin. His books for boys were being published and received critical acclaim. However, he was hit hard by the Great Depression. He tried to sell his services as a writing consultant and even tried to establish a correspondence school for aspiring writers. These schemes failed, as did his attempts to publish his own work. The public’s taste had changed and his western stories, with strong moral lessons of good and evil, were no longer in vogue. Sabin died on November 24, 1954, completely destitute — a ward of the county.