New In Special Collections: The Betty MacDonald Collection

Announcing the opening of the Betty MacDonald papers and photograph collections!

download (2)Betty MacDonald, bestselling mid-century author and beloved Pacific Northwesterner, specialized in writing hilarious personal tales.  Known for her books The Egg and I and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series of children’s books, Betty MacDonald published many other popular books including The Plague and I, a poignant and comedic memoir of her year in the Firland Sanatorium fighting tuberculosis.

The collections, now open to the public, include thousands of documents, personal and professional correspondence, legal and real estate records, writings, sound discs, clippings, publicity materials, fan mail, diaries, hundreds of print photos from her personal life, writing career, and professional life, including publicity photographs for the 1946 feature film of “The Egg and I” starring Claudette Colbert and Fred MacMurray.  The collection also includes Betty MacDonald American and Foreign editions in UW Libraries Special Collections.  Select items from the Betty MacDonald collection are accessible Betty Bard MacDonald items in Digital Collections.

How the Collection Came to UW Libraries

Looking coverWhile researching her book Looking for Betty MacDonald: The Egg, the Plague, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and I, author Paula Becker discovered Betty MacDonald’s archives and was given full access.  The archives held materials never seen by any researcher. The biography of this endearing Northwest storyteller reveals the story behind the memoirs and the difference between the real Betty MacDonald and her literary persona.

Paula Becker arranged for the Betty MacDonald collection to be donated to the UW Libraries Special Collections and then spent hours arranging and describing the collection.  The Betty MacDonald papers opened in January 2020.

Pop-up Exhibit – March 1 to April 10

From March 1 to April 10, 2020, a pop-up exhibit in the mezzanine level of Suzzallo/Allen Library North displays dozens of colorful books jackets along with an early manuscript of Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and letters to and from Betty’s fans.

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