Lloyd C. Douglas Papers: 1900-1954
Summary Information
Title: Lloyd C. Douglas Papers
Creator: Douglas, Lloyd C. (Lloyd Cassel), 1877-1951
Dates: 1900-1954
Extent: 6 linear feet, 2 oversize volumes
Popular novelist, author of The Robe and Magnificent Obsession, and minister of the First Congregational Church of Ann Arbor, Michigan. Correspondence with his family, publishers and other authors concerning his work and including comments on national politics, Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, and World War II; also manuscripts of addresses, articles, sermons, and novels; scrapbooks; and photographs.
Call number: 851313 Aa 2
Language: The materials are in English.
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid prepared by: Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The major portion of the collection was donated in two accessions (1959 and 1966) by Douglas's daughter, Betty Douglas Wilson Herman (Mrs. Carlos E. Herman) (donor 3508). A smaller portion was donated in 1974 by another daughter, Virginia Douglas Dawson (donor 5484). Small portions were donated by the University of Michigan Library (donor 1278), Stephen S. Attwood (donor 2593), Mrs. T.A. Peabody (donor 3553), and William G. Manders (donor 3681).

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.


Mrs. Herman and Mrs. Dawson have transferred any applicable copyright in their father's papers to the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

item, folder title, box no., Lloyd C. Douglas Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Lloyd C. Douglas was born August 27, 1877 in Columbia City, Indiana. He graduated from Wittenberg College (B.A., 1900 and M.A., 1903) and Hamma Divinity School (B.D., 1903). He was ordained a Lutheran minister and became pastor of Zion Church in North Manchester, Indiana (1903-1905). He then moved on to the First Church of Lancaster, Ohio (1905-1908) and the Lutheran Memorial Church in Washington DC (1908-1911). While in Washington, Douglas also served as chaplain of the First Infantry of the District of Columbia. From 1911 to 1915, he was director of religious work at the University of Illinois. From 1915 to 1921. From here, he next pastored at the First Church in Akron, Ohio, the First Church in Los Angeles, and St. James United Church in Montreal.

Douglas was a talented preacher and writer. His first publications were solely religious or spiritual in nature. In 1929, he completed his first novel Magnificent Obsession which became an immense best-seller. With the success of this volume and of his second novel Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Douglas eventually earned enough that he could quit the ministry to become a full-time writer. Douglas intended his novels to be spiritually uplifting and his popularity continued with such titles as Green Light, White Banners, Disputed Passage, and Doctor Hudson's Secret Journal. His last two novels - The Robe and The Big Fisherman - were based upon characters and situations from the New Testament. He died Feb. 13, 1951.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Douglas papers consist of material collected by his daughters, Virginia Douglas Dawson and Betty Douglas Wilson Herman, in the preparation of their biography of their father, The Shape of Sunday. The collection has been arranged into the following series: Correspondence; Ministerial Activities; Literary Career; Miscellaneous and personal; and Scrapbooks.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Authors, American.
  • Literature.
  • Motion picture industry.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1940.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1944.
  • World War, 1939-1945.
  • Ann Arbor (Mich.) -- Churches.
  • California.
  • Churches -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Photographs.
  • Sermons.
  • Scrapbooks.
  • Brown, Prentiss M. (Prentiss Marsh), 1889-1973.
  • Brumm, John Lewis, 1878-1958.
  • Congregational churches -- Michigan -- Ann Arbor.
  • Dawson, Virginia Douglas.
  • Douglas, Lloyd C. (Lloyd Cassel), 1877-1951.
  • First Congregational Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  • Goddard, Edwin C. (Edwin Charles), 1865-1942.
  • Gray, Alan E.
  • Wilson, Betty Douglas.
  • Ivey, Paul Wesley, 1890-
  • Kent, Ira Rich, 1876-1945.
  • Peabody, Thomas A.
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
  • Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972.
  • Wilson, J. Weldon.
  • Douglas, Lloyd C. (Lloyd Cassel), 1877-1951.
  • First Congregational Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
  • Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973.
  • Clark, Champ, 1850-1921.
  • DeMille, Cecil B. (Cecil Blount), 1881-1959.
  • Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971.
  • Holmes, John Haynes, 1879-1964.
  • Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972.
  • Hughes, Rupert, 1872-1956.
  • Phelps, William Lyon, 1865-1943.
  • Pickford, Mary, 1892-1979.
  • Pinchot, Gifford, 1865-1946.
  • Rogers, Ginger, 1911-1995.
  • Roosevelt, Theodore, 1887-1944.
  • Saroyan, William, 1908-1981.
  • Seeley, Halstead H.
  • Shirer, William L. (William Lawrence), 1904-1993.
  • Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953.
  • Wilbur, Ray L. (Ray Lyman), 1875-1949.
  • Wilgus, Horace L. (Horace La Fayette), 1859-1935.
  • Willkie, Wendell L. (Wendell Lewis), 1892-1944.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]
Box   1  
Undated, 1926-1940 (33 folders)
Box   2  
1941-1951 (35 folders)
Box   2  
Notebook: "Personal correspondence between Lloyd C. Douglas and Halstead H. Seeley, July 1937-June 1950"
Box   3  
Typed excerpts of Douglas correspondence used in the preparation of Douglas biography Shape of Sunday written by his daughter Virginia Douglas Dawson (3 folders)
Ministerial Activities [series]
Box   3  
Sermons (11 folders, 3 volumes)
Box   3  
Box   3  
Sermonettes 1913-1915 (1 volume)
Box   3  
Inspirational clippings and poetry undated
Literary Career [series] (1 volume)
Box   3  
Addresses and articles (1 volume)
Box   3  
Essays and stories (1 volume)
Box   3  
Synopses of proposed novels

(include "Enchanted Robe")

Box   4  
Miscellaneous published writings
Box   4  
Manuscript of The Robe (3 volumes)
Box   4  
Fan mail for The Robe, primarily from servicemen 1944-1948
Oversize Volume   1  
Scrapbook of reviews, advertisements, etc. for The Robe 1942-1946
Oversize Volume   2  
Scrapbook of reviews, advertisements, etc. for The Big Fisherman 1943-1950
Miscellaneous and personal [series]
Box   4  
Trip to Europe 1925

(letters to children and miscellaneous)

Box   4  
Speeches (non-sermons)
Box   4  
Newspaper clippings, primarily LCD obituaries 1951
Box   4  
Miscellaneous newspaper clippings
Box   4  
Miscellanea (4 folders)
Box   4  
Miscellaneous notebooks and journals (6 volumes)
Box   4  

Portraits, photos of Douglas's California home, and views of the First Congregational Church

Scrapbooks [series]
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   5  
Box   6  
Box   6  
Box   6  
Re Those Disturbing Miracles 1927-1928
Box   6  
Re Magnificent Obsession 1929-1933
Box   6  
Re Forgive Us Our Trespasses 1932-1933
Box   6  
Re Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal 1939-1940
Box   6  
Re Time to Remember 1951
Box   6  
Douglas family scrapbook 1870s-1910
Additional Descriptive Data
Selective Index to Correspondents and Subjects
Brown, Prentiss Marsh, 1889-1973.
  • Letter, Oct. 1, 1937, discussing a dinner party at which Senator Brown was present.
Brumm, John Lewis, 1878-1958.
  • Correspondence in July 1937 in which Douglas is urging Brumm as a possible president of Tufts College.
Buck, Pearl S. (Pearl Sydenstricker), 1892-1973.
  • Letters, Oct. 21 and Dec. 1, 1949.
Dawson, Virginia Douglas
  • Correspondence with his daughter Virginia Dawson containing witty and frank comments on public affairs, politics, World War II, his work on his books and personal matters.
DeMille, Cecil B. (Cecil Blount), 1881-1959.
  • Letter of July 27, 1950 from Cecil B. DeMille; also comments on DeMille in several other letters.
Dewey, Thomas E. (Thomas Edmund), 1902-1971.
  • Letter, July 6, 1944, from Thomas E. Dewey; also comments about Dewey, Dec. 31, 1939.
First Congregational Church (Ann Arbor, Mich.).
  • Letters, 1949, discussing the Ann Arbor church and Douglas's gift of a chapel to it; also a sermon, 1916, delivered in Ann Arbor.
Goddard, Edwin C. (Edwin Charles), 1865-1942.
  • Letter, May 31, 1949, discussing Professor Goddard.
Gray, Alan E.
  • Correspondence with his lawyer Alan Gray, and others about politics, World War II, tax policies of the Federal government, etc.
Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972.
  • Letter of May 29, 1943.
Hughes, Rupert, 1872-1956.
  • Letter, Dec. 31, 1944.
Ivey, Paul Wesley, 1890-.
  • Letter of Oct. 1, 1937, discussing Ivey at some length.
Kent, Ira Rich, 1876-1945.
  • Letters to Ira Kent, editor of Houghton-Mifflin Co., publishers of Douglas' work and a very close friend of Douglas.
Motion picture industry.
  • Letters to his family, publishers, and others, discussing his work, which included script writing for motion pictures, sale of movie rights of his novels, and considerable gossip about the industry in general since Douglas lived in Hollywood and had many contacts, social and otherwise in the movie industry.
Peabody, Thomas A.
  • Letters to Thomas A. Peabody commenting on politics, Douglas' books, and personal matters.
Pickford, Mary, 1892-1979.
  • Letter, April 12, 1941, from Mary Pickford.
Presidents--United States--Election--1940.
  • Correspondence containing pungent comments on the election of 1940, especially in the correspondence with Thomas Peabody in the fall of 1940.
Rogers, Ginger, 1911-
  • Letter, Jan. 4, 1945
Roosevelt, Franklin D. (Franklin Delano), 1882-1945.
  • Correspondence (scattered) with uncomplimentary references to Roosevelt and his policies.
Roosevelt, Theodore, 1887-1944.
  • Letter, July 8, 1940, from Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.
Saroyan, William, 1908-.
  • Letter, April 18, 1943, from William Saroyan.
Seeley, Halstead H.
  • Letters with Hal Seeley of Ann Arbor; also mention of Seeley in family correspondence.
Shirer, William L. (William Lawrence), 1904-
  • Letter, June 20, 1944, from William L. Shirer.
Taft, Robert A. (Robert Alphonso), 1889-1953.
  • Letter of Nov. 29, 1950, from Robert A. Taft.
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972.
  • Letter concerning Harry Truman and other matters, especially Sept. 15, 1949.
Willkie, Wendell L. (Wendell Lewis), 1892-1944.
  • Letters of Nov. 19, and Nov. 27, 1940; also comments on Willkie in letters of June 24, Oct. 7, 1940 and May 5, 1941.
Wilson, Betty Douglas
  • Correspondence with his daughter, Betty Douglas Wilson Herman (identified as Betty Douglas Wilson in The Shape of Sunday; also known as Besse Io Douglas Wilson Herman), containing witty and frank comments on public affairs, politics, World War II, his work on his books and personal matters.