PCL MS 068 Carl Jacobi Collection
|Title||PCL MS 068 Carl Jacobi Collection|
The Carl Jacobi Collection is comprised of six linear feet of correspondence, files, diaries, literary productions, printed materials, and photographs documenting the private and professional life of this notable author of horror, fantasy, science, and adventure fiction. The collection spans approximately 100 years beginning with Jacobi family documents from 1896 and ending with correspondence dated 1996 — a year before Carl Jacobi's death.
The collection was donated by Mr. Jacobi to the Popular Culture Library beginning in 1987 with later installments added by his estate after his death in 1997. There are no restrictions placed upon the use of this collection for scholarly purposes. Researchers are responsible for securing copyright permission when using all unpublished manuscripts and published works whether authored by Carl Jacobi or by other writers whose work may be found in this collection.
The collection was arranged and described by Eric Honneffer December 2011.
Carl Richard Jacobi was born July 10, 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. At an early age young Jacobi began reading fantasy and juvenile adventure stories with abandon. These included Frank Merriwell books, Tom Swift, and the Boy Allies among others. His father, a reporter with the Minneapolis Times encouraged Carl's budding interest in writing. While attending Bryant Junior High School, Carl even sold his handwritten "dime novels" to his classmates. In the process he launched a literary career that would span almost sixty years. He published his first complete story, "The Runaway Box-Car" December, 1924, in the Central High School's literary magazine, The Quest.
Jacobi enrolled at the University of Minnesota after graduating from Central High in January, 1927. He continued to write while serving on the editorial staff of the campus humor magazine, Ski-U-Mah.
In 1928 his detective story "Rumbling Cannon" was accepted for publication by pulp magazine Secret Service Stories. "Mive", his carnivorous butterfly tale was written for the University's literary magazine, Minnesota Quarterly. Jacobi accepted an editorial position with the magazine after the story won a university short-story contest. "Mive" appeared in the January, 1932 issue of Weird Tales, launching him onto the national pulp magazine scene.
The publication of "Mive" helped introduce Jacobi to a circle of like-minded authors including notable American fantasist H.P. Lovecraft, and pulp writer August W. Derleth, the latter of whom, along with Jacobi's friend, fantasy writer Donald A. Wandrei, in 1939, assisted in the establishment of Arkham House, publisher of fantasy fiction. In August, 1930 he began a friendship with writer Hugh B. Cave, a frequent contributor to Weird Tales. Their corresponding lasted over fifty years.
In December, 1930, after graduating from the University of Minnesota with a major in English Literature and Composition and a minor in Journalism, Jacobi took a job working for the Minneapolis Star doing reporting, feature writing and theatrical reviews. He continued selling his stories which included one of his most famous, "Revelations in Black," in the April, 1933 issue of Weird Tales. His fist Arkham House collection was published under the same title in 1947. This was followed by subsequent collections from Arkham House: Portraits in Moonlight in 1964, and Disclosures in Scarlet in 1972.
Jacobi's sole income for eight years after leaving the Star was earned from free lance writing. His fiction was sold to over forty—five magazines in the U.S as well as others in Canada, Sweden, Denmark, and New Zealand. During the Depression Jacobi helped to support himself by writing many stories in many different genres. Those that seemed to have a more lasting impact on his success were in the realm of fantasy—weird, macabre, supernatural, and science fiction. At least a third of his published output, however, was classified as high adventure. In 1988 a collection of his adventure stories was published under the title East of Samarinda.
Jacobi would start stories, jot down ideas, compose plots and synopses and often not develop them further. Many were tossed aside creating a large body of unfinished work. He commented that often if a story was rejected at first submission and revisions were recommended, he would set the story aside for a time and resubmit it unchanged and have it accepted on the second try.
In 1940 he became managing editor of Midwest Media, an advertising and radio trade magazine in Minneapolis, a position which only lasted until 1941. He would briefly return to the University of Minnesota to manage the Key Center of War Information, in his words, "a propaganda bureau." He wrote radio sketches and made arrangements for professors to write speeches in support of the war effort. Due to an inability to sell enough of his own fiction and as sole provider for his aging parents, in September of 1942, Jacobi took a job at the Honeywell defense plant as an electronics inspector, a job for which he had no prior experience, understanding or interest. This "career" lasted for twenty-three years. In his spare time he wrote mostly science-fiction stories which proved to be in high demand during the 1940's.
Since 1932 ten of Jacobi's stories were published in Weird Tales. Between 1947 and 1950 another eight appeared in the magazine whose 279th issue in 1954 was its last until it was revived briefly in 1973. In the late Forties with the passing of the pulps and a viable market for his work, Jacobi tried his hand at stories with more mass appeal such as romance fiction which he submitted to the "slicks" without much success. Fantasy fiction markets, however, remained strong and Jacobi continued to be published. "Witches in the Corn Field" was among his most remembered tales published in the 1950's.
By 1965 he was alone after the passing of the last of his immediate family. He quit the job at Honeywell and began to toy with the idea of writing novels. In the past such lengthy works were usually started and set aside unfinished. Some of these included: Captain Royal, Mississippi Coach, Gentleman of the Forest, and Caribbean Assignment. In December of 1967, however, he began writing a juvenile mystery adventure. The resulting work, The Jade Scorpion, was completed in 1969 but was never published.
Jacobi donated his story outlines/synopses, manuscripts, correspondence, and pulp magazine holdings to the University of Minnesota in 1972. This collection, MS-45, contains approximately three cubic feet of records dating from 1929-1971. By 1987 he began donating the remainder of his collection to the Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University.
Carl Jacobi died August 25, 1997 due to complications from a prolonged illness.
*Biography drawn heavily from R. Dixon Smith's volume Lost in the Rentharpian Hills: Spanning the Decades with Carl Jacobi, BGSU Popular Press, 1985.
|Scope and Content|
The prolific literary output of Carl Jacobi over a sixty year period dominates the four linear feet of literary productions within this six linear foot collection. Most heavily represented are short story manuscripts, many of which are edited and periodically include a published copy. There are no galleys. Many of the stories, novels, and novelettes are undated and have been arranged alphabetically by title as short stories. Jacobi like many authors was known to rework stories, (ie. "Josephine Gage") that he had written earlier, thus, making it difficult if not practically impossible to determine when a particular version of a story was actually written. Dates as to when stories were published are of course available in various bibliographies.
Story synopses and outlines as well as notes and jottings about plots and characters can be found in the collection for stories that were never written. Manuscripts are often on poor quality paper and heavily stained. Manuscripts will have missing pages indicated as "incomplete" on the finding aid's Box-Folder Inventory. The manuscripts were donated in a state of disarray and were painstakingly brought together where possible under a story title, many of which were changed over time by Jacobi. Where an alternate title was given it has been noted on the inventory. One entire box includes untitled and incomplete stories where some character and place names have been noted for possible future linking with other identified works in the collection.
For researchers interested in pulp writers, certainly Jacobi correspondence from such giants in the field as August Derleth and Hugh Cave would be of interest as well as correspondence between Jacobi and various publishers, agents and other professionals in the business.
Some insights into Jacobi's life may be found in various diaries he kept rather sporadically between 1918 and 1955. One in particular was devoted specifically to his search for work just prior to the beginning of WWII. A series of volumes are devoted exclusively to books he had read between 1943 and 1952. Family correspondence and papers shed further light on Jacobi's immediate family and his relationship with them. An extensive collection of artwork that he produced as a child was retained by his mother and dated. His school papers, writings, and even a lock of hair from his youth are also found in the collection.