Thomas D. Clareson Collection

Identity elements

Reference code

TxAM-CRS C000152

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Level of description



Thomas D. Clareson Collection


  • 1910-2013 (Creation)


13 boxes and 1 oversize folder

Name of creator

Biographical history

Dr. Thomas D. Clareson was a noted scholar and critic of literary science fiction. He was born on August 26, 1926, in Austin, MN, and was a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Clareson received a M.A. from Indiana University in 1949 and his Ph.D from the University of Pennsylvania in 1956. He was a professor of English at the College of Wooster (Wooster, OH) from 1955 until his retirement in May 1993. Clareson died in Wooster on July 6, 1993. In addition to science fiction, Clareson's academic specialities included 19th-century American literature and the English and American novel.

Clareson was the author of a number of notable works of academic criticism on science fiction, and champion of SF as a legitimate literary genre. He once said that "for years I've tried to show that science fiction is a form of American popular literature which has a long tradition and, as a kind of fantasy, has an importance equal to that of the realistic social novel."

Most famously, he wrote Science Fiction in America, 1870s-1930s: An Annotated Bibliography of Primary Sources(Greenwood Press: 1984), which became a standard reference work for the study of science fiction literature. Other major works of his include Some Kind Of Paradise: The Emergence of American Science Fiction(Greenwood Press: 1986), which won the Eaton Award from the University of California-Riverside; and Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Formative Period, 1926-1970 __(University of South Carolina Press: 1990). _Some Kind Of Paradise_is an important historical and thematic survey of science fiction that, like Science Fiction in America,  incorporates many plot synopses of different works.

Clareson's first work of SF criticism was the article "The Evolution of Science Fiction", published in _Science Fiction Quarterly_in August 1953. He went on to edit the journal Extrapolation(the oldest established academic journal relating to science fiction) from 1959-1989, as well as a number of different anthologies of SF criticism. In addition, Clareson was the general editor of Greenwood Press' microfilm reprint series of SF pulp magazines and its collection Early Science Fiction Novels: A Microfiche Collection.

Clareson was the chairman of the Modern Language Association's first seminar on science fiction in 1958, and from 1970-1976 was the first president of the Science Fiction Research Association. Since 1996, the SFRA has presented the yearly Thomas D. Clareson Award for Distinguished Service in his honor. In 1977, Clareson received the Pilgrim Award from the SFRA for Lifetime Achievement in the field of science fiction scholarship.

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Scope and content

This collection includes correspondence to and from Clareson on his research, his science fiction journal editorship and related matters; manuscripts of some of Clareson's work, including a study of Robert Heinlein, as well as Understanding Contemporary American Science Fiction: The Formative Period (1990) and an unpublished biography of Charles Reade; research files for Clareson's study of John Wyndham; audio cassettes of interviews, panels and other appearances by Clareson; slides used by Clareson in his classroom work; and some miscellaneous materials. Also included are several awards that Clareson won for his professional work.

Several additional boxes contain research materials used by Clareson in the writing of his work The Heritage of Heinlein: A Critical Reading of the Fiction. Clareson died before he could complete the work, and it was ultimately finished and published by Joe Sanders in 2014. The materials include the manuscript for the book, as well as some original correspondence from Robert A. Heinlein, and copies of some of Heinlein's novels with notes by Clareson.

The correspondence contains letters from Lois McMaster Bujold, Harry Harrison, and James Tiptree, Jr.

System of arrangement

This collection is arranged alphabetically.

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These materials are stored offsite and require additional time for retrieval.

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Languages of the material

  • English

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Finding aids

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Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Gift. Materials from Clareson's work The Heritage of Heinleindonated by Tom Clareson, December 2014.


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Archivist's note

Finding Aid Authors: Jeremy Brett.

Archivist's note

© Copyright 2019 Cushing Library. All rights reserved.

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