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Daisy Bacon Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SC 0304

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Daisy Bacon Papers, 1857-before March 25, 1986, comprise the personal and professional papers, diaries, scrapbooks, printed ephemera, published and unpublished manuscripts, and photographs of Daisy Bacon, longtime editor of Love Story Magazine. The papers of select family members are also represented in this collection and include Esther Joa Ford Robinson, Jessie Holbrook Bacon Ford, and Elmer Bacon.

Dates

  • 1857-before March 25, 1986

Creator

Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact research services staff at library-special@jmu.edu before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Original audiovisual materials contained in this collection are restricted from access. Reformatted access copies may be available, or media reformatting may be available upon request. Contact research services staff at library-special@jmu.edu for additional information.

Use Restrictions

Copyright is retained by the creator(s) and their heirs for materials they have authored or otherwise produced that reside in this collection. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Bio/Historical Note

Daisy Sarah Bacon (1898-1986) was a writer and editor of Street & Smith’s popular Love Story Magazine from 1928 to 1947. She was born in Union City, Pennsylvania to Jessie Holbrook Bacon (1870-1936) and Elmer Bacon (1864-1900). After her father’s death on January 1, 1900, Daisy’s mother married George Ford (1858-1907). Their daughter Esther Joa Ford (d. 1989) was born in 1906. Esther was Daisy’s lifelong friend, confidante, associate, and colleague. The two frequently referred to each other by their respective surnames – Bacon and Ford. In July 1943, Esther married Clarke Robinson, an opera singer, WWI officer, and writer. For a time, Daisy was involved romantically with Henry Wise Miller, a stockbroker who was married to writer Alice Duer Miller. During much of her adulthood, Daisy battled depression, alcoholism, and made at least two suicide attempts.

Daisy began her career at Street & Smith in 1926 as the reader for the Love Story advice column. Just a few months later, she started writing short stories for the magazine. Daisy became the magazine’s editor in 1928 and worked closely with her half-sister and editorial assistant Esther. At the height of its popularity, Love Story’s weekly circulation reportedly reached 600,000. In addition to Love Story and other publications, Daisy edited Real Love, Ainslee's Smart Love Stories, The Shadow, Pocket Love, Detective Story Magazine, Romantic Range, and Doc Savage. The publication of Love Story ceased with its February 1947 issue though Daisy continued to work at Street & Smith on other pulp titles. Daisy was fired from Street & Smith in April 1949 when the company ended its publication of all pulp fiction magazines except Astounding Stories.

After leaving Street & Smith, Daisy moved from Manhattan to Port Washington, New York where she continued to write. In 1954, she published Love Story Writer, an instruction manual on how to write romance stories. After regaining the copyright to Love Story Writer in 1963, Bacon established Gemini Books and republished the book as a paperback under the title Love Story Editor. Her manuscript for “Love Story Diary,” a Street & Smith tell-all was never published and is not extant. Bacon also kept diaries and dream journals, and their contents often alluded to her personal struggles and complicated relationships.

Esther and Daisy’s relationship was strained after they were let go from Street & Smith, but Esther moved in with Daisy after her husband Clarke’s death in 1962 and the two became close again. Both Daisy and Esther were cat lovers and were frequently photographed with their feline companions. Daisy Bacon died March 25, 1986 in Port Washington.

Researchers are highly encouraged to review Laurie Powers’s biography of Daisy Bacon titled Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine (2019) as this biographical note is not intended to serve as a comprehensive account of Daisy Bacon’s life and career.

Extent

3.64 cubic feet (10 boxes)

44.4 Megabytes (6 digital files)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The Daisy Bacon Papers, 1857-before March 25, 1986, comprise the personal and professional papers, diaries, manuscripts, and photographs of Daisy Bacon, longtime editor of Love Story Magazine. The papers of select immediate and extended family members are also included in this collection.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged into five series:

  1. Diaries and Journals, 1899-1982, is arranged by creator (Daisy Bacon, Jessie Bacon Ford, etc.) and item type (diaries, dream journals, etc.) which generally also follows a chronological arrangement.
  2. Scrapbooks and Ephemera, 1903-1976, is arranged chronologically. The scrapbooks of Love Story covers are grouped together which only slightly disrupts the chronological arrangement.
  3. Manuscripts and Publishing, 1929-1975, is arranged alphabetically according to manuscript title/folder title.
  4. Personal Papers and Correspondence, 1857-1975, is arranged chronologically.
  5. Photographs and Negatives, 1883-before March 25, 1986, is arranged chronologically.

Provenance

Per Laurie Powers, either Daisy Bacon or Daisy's sister Esther gave the Haagensons Bacon's papers.

Acquisition Information

Bill and Nora Haagenson, Daisy's neighbors in Port Washington, New York, donated the collection in December 2019. The collection was in the physical custody of Laurie Powers, Daisy Bacon's biographer and Staunton, Virginia resident, while she was writing Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine. Powers delivered the collection to Special Collections after the Haagensons signed a deed of gift transferring ownership to JMU.

Appraisal Note

Photocopies of documents acquired by Laurie Powers for the purpose of writing Bacon's biography, many of which were facsimiles of collection material held at other repositories, were not retained.

Other Formats Available

The three lacquer (acetate) phonodiscs containing the June 13, 1941 radio program "The Writer and Your Life" were reformatted in-house by Kirsten Mlodynia, Digital Projects Specialist.

Related Material

Street & Smith Records, Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries

Bibliography

  • Laurie Powers, Queen of the Pulps: The Reign of Daisy Bacon and Love Story Magazine, Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers, 2019.

Processing Information

Laurie Powers, Daisy Bacon biographer, was actively referencing and using the materials in this collection prior to its transfer to Special Collections. Powers provided descriptions and date ranges for much of the material in this collection including diaries and journals. Powers also removed loose newspaper clippings, notes, and printed ephemera from diaries and arranged them according to date or subject in plastic sleeves. Said clippings and assorted ephemera have been foldered according to Powers' groupings. Any associated labels were retained and transferred to folders and sub-folders. Exceptions have been made for papers with more discrete research potential than newspaper clippings (e.g. correspondence, Daisy Bacon's cat's pedigree chart).

Plastic covers were removed from three scrapbooks containing Love Story covers.

Non-archival plastic sleeves were removed from personal papers and correspondence.

The groupings of newspaper clippings are foldered and subfoldered according to their groupings when donated.

The three lacquer (acetate) phonodiscs containing the June 13, 1941 radio program "The Writer and Your Life" were reformatted in-house by Kirsten Mlodynia, Digital Projects Specialist.

The photograph groupings as arranged by Laurie Powers were largely retained. Exceptions include photographs used for Powers' biography that were separated based solely on their inclusion in Queen of the Pulps. Most of these photographs were interfiled with other groupings.

A portion of the photo negatives are cellulose nitrate, in deteriorating condition, and/or do not have photograph copies. As such, they are likely candidates for future reformatting. The negatives were removed from their paper envelopes and housed in acid-free sleeves in those same groupings. The envelopes are retained as examples of marketing and advertisement for photo development companies.

Title
A Guide to the Daisy Bacon Papers, 1857-before March 25, 1986
Status
Completed
Author
Tiffany Cole
Date
October 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Revision Statements

  • 2020-12-02: Updated to incorporate edits to Daisy Bacon's biographical note. Edits clarified details concerning Bacon's suicide attempts, the circulation numbers of Love Story, and included other magazines edited by Bacon.

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

Contact:
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