Mary McDougal Axelson Papers (University of Miami)

The Mary McDougal Axelson Papers contain correspondence, writings, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, clippings and other materials. The Axelson Papers document the family life and professional careers of several members of the McDougal and Axelson families. Materials relating to Mary McDougal Axelson document her life political activist and writer. A leader and organizer of political, literary, and women's groups, Axelson participated in the women's club movement, suffrage, democratic party politics, health reform, and the world peace campaign. She gained a national and international reputation for her work Life Begins which appeared in the form of a novel, play and film. Files also document the accomplishments of family members including her parents, Daniel Archibald and Myrtle McDougal, her sister Violet, husband Ivar Axelson and daughter Mary Ivonne Axelson.

The series of the collection on Mary McDougal Axelson's writings contains articles on various subjects including art, articles that may have been written for the fuel conservation effort during World War I, and other writings. A manuscript for an unfinished autobiography appears in outline form in a diary of "Things to Accent" as well as in draft form in five tablet notebooks, and in an incomplete manuscript. The 1928-29 diary Mary kept while in the hospital maternity ward, entitled "Before the Birth of Mary Ivonne Axelson," provides the source material for her play and novel entitled Life Begins, and two Hollywood movies. This series also contains a monologue written with her daughter, Mary Ivonne Axelson, miscellaneous manuscript pages, and song lyrics. The correspondence series contains Axelson's letters to family and friends as well as correspondence with publishers and editors concerning her writings. Several files relate to the Everglades land owned by the Axelsons. Other files concern Mary and Ivar Axelson's inventions and attempts to obtain patents. The political activities series in the Papers consists of newspaper clippings, correspondence and campaign literature. In addition to documenting the career of Axelson, these materials illustrate some of the many avenues through which women became politically active during the first two decades of the twentieth century. A series of scrapbooks and miscellanea contains photographs, correspondence and clippings relating to the life and literary career of Mary McDougal Axelson and another of photographs and albums documents many years of her life in images.

The family files include a series of records from her father, Daniel A. McDougal. This series contains diaries (1938-54), newspaper clippings, correspondence, and a scrapbook. Clippings, 1931, document the activities of McDougal in the House of Representatives. Correspondence, 1897-1950, relates to family matters, the Florida real estate business and the political activities of McDougal as a state legislator and congressman. Everglades correspondence contains descriptions of McDougal's first exploration of his Everglades property in 1922 and in subsequent years discusses the business of the Chevelier Corporation. McDougal's scrapbook contains letters, photographs, and postcards written during a period of illness in 1938. The series for Violet McDougal includes newspaper clippings, correspondence, poetry, and articles on poetry. Newspaper clippings dated 1923 detail Violet's appointment by Oklahoma Governor Walton as "official poet laureate of the State," and the publication of a book she co-authored with her sister Mary McDougal Axelson. Ivar Axelson's series contains files on the founding of Everglades National Park from a landowner's perspective. As shareholders in the Chevelier Corporation, the Axelson and McDougal families represented the eleventh largest landowner within the Everglades area. The Myrtle McDougal series contains papers documenting the political activities of Mary Axelson's mother, Myrtle McDougal. A poem she wrote for Ruth Bryan Owen, a photograph of Owen with a signed note to McDougal, and numerous photographs of Myrtle McDougal are also arranged in this series. A final series of correspondence with daughter Mary Ivonne Axelson includes correspondence, a film, as well as original poems and plays she wrote as a student. Newspaper clippings and photographs document her acting career, and numerous family photographs appear in this series.

Description prepared by Ruthanne Vogel, University of Miami

Also available: brief biographies of Mary McDougal Axelson, Daniel A. McDougal and Ivar Axelson.


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