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Felix and Selma Stefanile papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MSF 306

Scope and Contents

The Felix and Selma Stefanile papers (1920-2009; 26.75 cubic feet) document the personal and professional lives of Felix and Selma Stefanile. The collection includes rough drafts and notes of Felix and Selma's published poems and essays. It also contains personal papers which document both of their lives in New York before they came to live in West Lafayette, Indiana. Many of the photographs are focused on Felix's childhood, early life, middle and later years. The photographs document less of Selma Stefanile's life independently but do show Felix and Selma's life together. Types of materials include: rough drafts, notes, correspondence, pamphlets, notebooks, photographs, compact discs, and records. The papers are organized into seven series: Career as a writer, General business papers, Correspondence, Personal life, Photographs, Artifacts, and Oversize items. History of Sparrow magazine Sparrow was a poetry journal started in 1954 by Felix and Selma Stefanile. According to Felix, he had selfish reasons for wanting to start a poetry journal. He “wanted to live the life of poetry.” Stefanile has also explained that “the best way to become involved in the literary scene, to meet new people and make your work known more widely, was to start a magazine.” The title of the magazine was named for the tenacious, resourceful and hardy sparrow, instead of a bird of paradise and leisure. Scorning the idea of a “free but unreadable” journal, Sparrow was a personal monetary investment of the Stefaniles. Felix and Selma edited the journal together. The vision for the journal was eclectic as opposed to the “shared aesthetic” journal. The eclectic journal editor made selections for the journal in order to display the variation of poetry. The first issue of the Sparrow included contributions by Cid Corman. Felix Stefanile noted that the hardest part of editing a poetry journal was not finding the poetry but finding readers who will buy the journal. In the 1980’s Felix remarked that most of the subscriptions for Sparrow came from schools, libraries and other organizations, not individual readers. Felix was vocal about his belief in self-sufficiency versus grantsmanship, having never applied for federal grants to fund the Sparrow. In 1977, the Sparrow magazine was joined by the Sparrow Poverty Pamphlet series. Each Sparrow Poverty Pamphlet focused on the work of one poet. Felix and Selma decided to end publication Sparrow magazine in 2000 with Sparrow number 65. Source: By Felix Stefanile. (1980, February 17). SELECTION: Confessions of an Editor Editor. New York Times (1923-Current file),p. BR3. Retrieved April 15, 2010, from ProQuest Historical Newspapers The New York Times (1851 - 2006). (Document ID: 114032518). By Neil Baldwin. (1984, September-October). Selected storms of achievement: A Small-press retrospective. Found in Box 13, Folder 8 of MSF 306, Felix and Selma Stefanile papers, Archives and Special Collections, Purdue University Libraries


  • 1920-2009
  • Majority of material found within 1944-2000
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/02/2010


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.


26.75 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

1. Series One, Career as a writer, 1944-2006 (11.75 cubic feet) This series includes rough drafts, notes, writings and pamphlets. The papers illustrate his thought process as an author. The pamphlets are from Felix's personal library and often were used for inspiration in his own writing process. This series also contains papers related to the Sparrow magazine. This includes financial records, correspondence, and copies of the Sparrow magazine. Subseries A: Rough drafts, Notes, Writings, etc. Subseries B: Sparrow magazine Subseries C: Pamphlets and books with contributions by Felix Stefanile Subseries D: Pamphlets and books with marginalia created by Felix Stefanile Subseries E: Pamphlets published by Sparrow Press Subseries F: Pamphlets published by James L. Weil Subseries G: Various pamphlets 2. Series Two, General business papers, 1944-2008 (3 cubic feet) This series includes business papers that relate to Felix Stefanile's career as a professor They include papers on the classes he taught and on students he advised. 3. Series Three, Correspondence, 1932-2007 (3 cubic feet) This series includes two subseries: personal correspondence and business correspondence. Subseries A: Business correspondence Subseries B: Personal correspondence 4. Series Four, Personal life, 1922-2001, 4 cubic feet This series includes scrapbooks, diaries and important documents such as Army discharge papers. The series also includes papers documenting his life outside of writing, As well as the papers of Selma Stefanile. Rough drafts, notes and correspondence created by Selma Stefanile are arranged here. Subseries A: Personal papers Subseries B: Materials related to Selma Stefanile Subseries C: Materials written by Selma Stefanile 5. Series Five, Photographs, 1920-2009, 4 cubic feet This series is arranged roughly into chronological years of Felix and Selma's lives. The photographs are specifically focused on Felix's life. Subseries A: Early years, ca. 1920s-1940s Subseries B: Middle years, ca. 1940s-1960s Subseries C: Later years, ca. 1970s-2009 6. Series Six, Artifacts, 1920-2000, 0.5 cubic feet 7. Series Seven, Oversize Items, 1944-2009, 0.5 cubic feet

Method of Acquisition

Collection donated by Selma Stefanile on February 23, 2009

Processing Information

Whenever possible, original order of the materials has been retained. Most newsprint has been photocopied. Oversized items, photographs, pamphlets, books, and artifacts have been separated and grouped into individual series for preservation purposes.
Felix and Selma Stefanile papers
In Progress
Shauna Borger
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States