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William Wister Haines papers


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

William Wister Haines was an American author, screenwriter, and playwright. Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1908, he studied engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, but was unable to find work as an engineer during the Great Depression; instead, he worked as an electric lineman for the railroad, experience he used when writing his first two novels, Slim (1934) and High Tension (1938). While serving as an intelligence officer in the Air Force during World War II, Haines began writing the play Command Decision based on his experiences, which he later turned into a novel at his publisher's insistence. The success of the novel led to renewed success for the stage version, and the story was later adapted into a film by MGM. Haines had difficulty repeating the success of Command Decision, and in the 1950s and 1960s he increasingly turned to writing screenplays for financial support. However, his novel The Winter War (1961), an account of the 1877 U.S. military campaign against the Sioux, was a popular Western and won the Spur Award of the Western Writers of America. Other published books include The Hon. Rocky Slade (1957), Target (1964), The Image (1968), and a non-fictional account of his wartime experience, Ultra (1980). Later in life Haines retired to Laguna Niguel in Southern California, and died aboard a cruise ship in 1989.

This collection includes material related to William Wister Haines' literary work. It contains a detailed series of drafts for ten of his novels, published and unpublished, as well as signed first editions of most of the published work, arranged alphabetically by title. The novel drafts, arranged chronologically, are extensive, carefully delineated by version and date, and often accompanied by revealing (and sometimes harshly critical) notes from editors.. Some of the novel drafts also include research material.

In addition, the collection contains a large number of versions of Haines' most successful play, Command Decision -- though these are not as carefully delineated as the novel drafts -- as well as press clippings, photographs, and costume lists for the performances, all of which are arranged chronologically. His unproduced plays are represented only by single drafts.

The collection also contains drafts of Haines' published and unpublished short stories, poems, and magazine articles, though with the exception of several published in The Saturday Evening Post, these are generally represented only by a single draft. These drafts are arranged alphabetically by title. As outlined in the donor correspondence, studio copyright considerations allowed only Haines' unpublished screenplays to be represented in this collection, as well as a teleplay in which he attempted to adapt several of his own short stories into a TV series, arranged alphabetically by title.

Gifts of William Wister Haines, 1961-1969

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Sam Allingham
Finding Aid Date
2016 September 7
Access Restrictions

The bulk of this collection is open for research use. However, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services ( for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Command Decision, first draft, 1946.
Box 1 Folder 1-2
Command Decision, signed first edition, 1947.
Box 1 Folder 3
Command Decision, signed Armed Forces edition, 1947.
Box 1 Folder 4
Command Decision, Readers Digest edition, 1947.
Box 1 Folder 5
Command Decision, signed first UK edition, 1948.
Box 1 Folder 6
Command Decision, signed Pocket Book edition, 1949.
Box 1 Folder 7
Command Decision, signed Argentine edition, 1950.
Box 1 Folder 8
Command Decision, signed Bantam Books edition, 1959.
Box 1 Folder 9
End of the Rainbow, submission copy, 1938-1939.
Box 1 Folder 10-11
End of the Rainbow, partial carbon copy, 1940.
Box 1 Folder 12-14
End of the Rainbow, author's working copy, 1940.
Box 1 Folder 15-18
High Tension, signed first edition, 1938.
Box 2 Folder 1
High Tension, signed Pocket Books edition, 1948.
Box 2 Folder 2
The Hon. Rocky Slade, submission copy, 1956.
Box 2 Folder 3-4
The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed first edition, 1957.
Box 2 Folder 5
The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed copy, 1957.
Box 2 Folder 6
The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed Bantam edition, 1959.
Box 2 Folder 7
The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), early notes, circa 1965.
Box 2 Folder 8
The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), early draft , 1965.
Box 2 Folder 9-12
The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), third draft, 1967.
Box 2 Folder 13-17
The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), ribbon copy, 1967.
Box 3 Folder 1-2
Slim, first handwritten draft, circa 1932.
Box 3 Folder 3-5
Slim, signed first edition, 1934.
Box 3 Folder 6
Slim, Signet pocket edition, 1947.
Box 3 Folder 7
Standard of Living, submission copy, 1936.
Box 3 Folder 8-10
Target, research materials, circa 1964.
Box 3 Folder 11-12
Target, typescript draft #1, circa 1964.
Box 3 Folder 13-14
Target, typescript draft #2, circa 1964.
Box 3 Folder 15-16
Target, third typescript, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 1-2
Target, third typescript with research notes, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 3-4
Target, setting copy, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 5-6
Target, proofs, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 7-8
Target, manuscript for film offering, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 9-10
Target, signed first edition, 1964.
Box 4 Folder 11
Target, signed Bantam edition, 1965.
Box 4 Folder 12
A Virtuous Woman, signed mimeograph copy, 1950.
Box 4 Folder 13
The Winter War, first draft, 1959.
Box 4 Folder 14
The Winter War, second draft.
Box 5 Folder 1-2
The Winter War, third draft, 1960.
Box 5 Folder 3-4
The Winter War, fourth draft, 1960.
Box 5 Folder 5-6
The Winter War, carbon of submission typescript, 1960.
Box 5 Folder 7-8
The Winter War, first galley proofs, 1961.
Box 5 Folder 9-10
The Winter War, second galley proofs, 1961.
Box 5 Folder 11
The Winter War, signed first edition, 1961.
Box 5 Folder 12
The Winter War, notes and research, circa 1959-1961.
Box 5 Folder 13

"Big Rosie", 1961.
Box 6 Folder 1
"Canyon of Surprise" , 1948.
Box 6 Folder 2
"Canyon of Surprise," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1949.
Box 8 Folder 2
"Divorce for Sale," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1953.
Box 8 Folder 3
"Equinoctial Epizootic", 1941.
Box 6 Folder 3
"Equinoctial Epizootic," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1941.
Box 8 Folder 1
"Give the Girl a Break," early draft, 1955.
Box 6 Folder 4
"Give the Girl a Break," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1955.
Box 8 Folder 5
"Hot Behind Me", 1935.
Box 6 Folder 5
"Just Plain Nuts", 1934.
Box 6 Folder 6
"Lemonade", circa 1961.
Box 6 Folder 7
"Pole Buddy", 1961.
Box 6 Folder 8
"A Pretty Soft Thing", 1935.
Box 6 Folder 9
"Primitive", 1952.
Box 6 Folder 10
"Remarks: None", 1934.
Box 6 Folder 11
"Rum, Sherry, and Quicklime", 1945.
Box 6 Folder 12
"Unwelcome Daughter-in-Law," early draft, 1953.
Box 6 Folder 13
"Unwelcome Daughter-in-Law," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1953.
Box 8 Folder 4
"Absolutely Free", circa 1938.
Box 6 Folder 14
"The Antagonist", 1953.
Box 6 Folder 15
"Anything You Want", 1938.
Box 6 Folder 16
"Bubbles", 1961.
Box 6 Folder 17
"Edge of Doom", 1940.
Box 6 Folder 18
"The Factor", 1952.
Box 6 Folder 19
"The Gangbuster", circa 1953.
Box 6 Folder 20
"The Golden Goose", circa 1953.
Box 6 Folder 21
"The Happiest Fool", circa 1952.
Box 6 Folder 22
"Pleasure Ashore", 1940.
Box 6 Folder 23
"Plus or Minus", 1952.
Box 6 Folder 24
"Portrait in Miniature", 1952.
Box 6 Folder 25
"Requiem for a Passion", 1958.
Box 6 Folder 26
"The Rescue of Rooney", 1952.
Box 6 Folder 27
"Star of Liberty", 1939.
Box 6 Folder 28
"Sunbeam", 1947.
Box 6 Folder 29
"Water Blind", 1940.
Box 6 Folder 30
Issue of the Atlantic containing "Sirens: a Sonnet" , 1942.
Box 6 Folder 31

"California Wines Today" (originally entitled "I Often Wonder"), 1951.
Box 6 Folder 32
"Hunting Moon", 1955.
Box 6 Folder 33
Anthology containing "Freighters of the Future", 1958.
Box 6 Folder 34
"Freighters of the Future", 1953.
Box 6 Folder 35
"Illusion a la Mode", 1941.
Box 6 Folder 36

The Doctor's Girl, 1953.
Box 6 Folder 37
The Ivory Tower, 1940-1941.
Box 6 Folder 38
On Top (TV script, including preliminary story drafts), undated.
Box 6 Folder 39

Coast to Coast, 1957.
Box 7 Folder 1-3
Command Decision, first two versions (originally titled "Command"), 1945-1946.
Box 7 Folder 4
Command Decision, early drafts (originally titled "Command"), 1946.
Box 7 Folder 5-11
Command Decision, working drafts , 1947.
Box 7 Folder 12-15
Command Decision, Beverly Hills version.
Box 7 Folder 16
Command Decision, in Theatre Arts, 1948.
Box 7 Folder 17
Command Decision, signed first printing .
Box 7 Folder 18
Command Decision, signed acting edition.
Box 7 Folder 19
Command Decision, costume list, circa 1947.
Box 7 Folder 20
Command Decision, press clippings, 1947-1949.
Box 7 Folder 21
Command Decision, playbills , 1947-1949.
Box 7 Folder 22
Command Decision, promotional photographs , circa 1947.
Box 7 Folder 23
Condition Scarlet , 1954.
Box 7 Folder 24
Happily Ever After , 1938.
Box 7 Folder 25

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