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Alwin Thaler Papers on Jane Merchant

Identifier: MS-1001

  • Staff Only

This collection contains letters between Alwin Thaler and poet Jane Merchant, as well as newspaper articles, original poems, and a speech describing Merchant's works.

Series I: Correspondence features letters and cards sent between Thaler and Merchant over a period of more than 10 years. A few of the letters mention John Hodges.

Series II: Newspaper Clippings contains three articles announcing Merchant's works and death.

Series III: Other Documents features two original works of Jane Merchant, "Rest Home at Christmas" and "Philip-Sparrow." Also included is a speech nominating Merchant for Poet Laureate in Tennessee and an article describing the life and works of Jane Merchant.


  • 1952-1972, undated

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


This collection contains letters between Alwin Thaler and poet Jane Merchant, as well as newspaper articles, original poems, and a speech describing Merchant's works.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jane Hess Merchant was born in 1919 in Inskip, Tennessee. She was confined to her bed at the age of twelve from the congenital bone disease Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which also caused her to go deaf at the age of twenty-three. From her bedroom, Merchant was able to write more than 3,000 poems, more than 2,000 letters, dozens of prose pieces, and to publish ten collections of her poetry. In addition to her published works, she also maintained continual correspondence with friends and fans throughout her life. Merchant died in 1972.

Alwin Thaler was born on January 10, 1891 to Adolf and Rose (Vonhalle) Thaler in Hamburg, Germany. He earned his B.A. degree from Adelphi College in 1912, his M.A. from Columbia University in 1914, and his Ph.D from Harvard in 1918. He began his teaching career at Adelphi College, where he served as an instructor from 1912 to 1913. He then taught at Northwestern from 1913 to 1916. After he obtained his Ph.D, he served as an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkeley from 1920 to 1923. In 1923, he began teaching at the University of Tennessee, where he remained until his retirement in 1961. On August 14, 1920, he married Harriett Page Albright (1895-1977). Alwin and Harriett had two sons, Richard Winston Thaler (1923-1972) and Roderick Page Thaler (1927-1974). Alwin Thaler died on November 2, 1977 and is buried with his wife in Mansfield Memorial Park in Ontario, Ohio.


This collection is in one folder.

Related Materials

Interested researchers may wish to consult:

  1. MS.0333, Jane Merchant Literary Manuscripts Collection, 1954-1968
  2. MS.2057, Sarah Ricketts Collection of Jane Merchant Material, 1937-1992
  3. MS.2150, Jane Merchant Collection (Addendum), 1957-1972
  4. MS.3794, Shirley Whitney Kerr Collection of Jane Merchant Material, 1950-2000

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA