The Busey-Yntema collection mainly contains the papers of Garreta Helen Busey (1893-1976), but it also includes papers of her sister, Margaret Jeannette (Jean) Busey Yntema (1898-2002), and publications of her husband, Leonard F. Yntema (1892-1976).
In addition, the collection includes correspondence from William Maxwell (1908-2000) to Garreta Busey, Jean Yntema, and Jean Yntema's daughter, Mary Katherine (Kate) Yntema.
Series 1 contains the papers of Garreta Busey, a writer, editor, and teacher, who was educated at Wellesley College (B.A. 1915) and the University of Illinois (M.A., 1922; Ph.D. 1924). Between Wellesley and Illinois, she assisted Catharine McCulloch, a leader of the suffrage movement in Illinois, and, in the aftermath of World War I, served in the Red Cross in Paris and Geneva.
The collection contains Garreta Busey's published and unpublished poetry; the manuscript of her novel, The Windbreak (1938),and related papers; and materials documenting her collaboration with Stuart Pratt Sherman in the publication of Letters to a Lady in the Country, together with her Replies (1925)and its sequel in the New York Herald Tribune's literary supplement. Also in the series are other writings by and about Sherman, who taught in the English Department at Illinois from 1906 to 1924.
Garreta Busey subsequently joined the English faculty. Her interest in the development of creative writing at the University is reflected in the manuscripts of the Poetry Society, mainly from 1932 to 1935, and in a collection of poems by students in one of her classes, 1947-48. Some thirty students and faculty, including Marcus Goldman, Paul Landis, William Maxwell, Kerker Quinn, and Charles Shattuck, wrote the poems that constitute the Poetry Society archives.
Series 2 contains correspondence of Jean Busey Yntema with her parents and others, and reprints of scholarly articles by Leonard F. Yntema.
Born in Urbana, Jean Busey Yntema attended Lasell Seminary in Auburndale, Mass., 1914-16, and graduated from the University of Illinois in 1920 with a B.S. in Chemistry. She taught school for a year at Crossnore, N.C., and in 1923 married Leonard Francis Yntema. Her letters are accompanied by a copy of the transcript of Colleen R. Ogg's interview, Jean Busey Yntema Memoir (Oral History Office, Sangamon State University [University of Illinois at Springfield], 1984).
Leonard F. Yntema, who graduated from Hope College in 1915, received advanced degrees in Chemistry from the University of Illinois (M.S. 1917, Ph.D., 1921). A National Research Fellow at Illinois and Yale, 1921-23, he taught at Illinois from 1923 to 1930. In those years, he shared in Professor B. Smith Hopkins' discovery of the Element 61, christened Illinium. (Illinium, later renamed promethium, was subsequently removed from the Periodic Table after it was determined that the element did not occur naturally on earth.) In 1930, Yntema received a faculty appointment at St. Louis University where he remained until 1943. He then became the director of research for Fansteel Metallurgical Co. in North Chicago, Ill., and continued in this position until his retirement in 1957.
Both Jean and Leonard Yntema were ardent conservationists and long served as active members of the Illinois Dunesland Preservation Society. They had three children: Douwe, George, and Mary Kate.
Series 3 contains letters and notes, both handwritten and typed, from William Maxwell to Garreta Busey, Jean Yntema, and Mary Kate Yntema.
Maxwell graduated from the University of Illinois in 1930, and, after receiving a master's degree at Harvard, returned to teach freshmen composition and take graduate courses at Illinois. In 1933-34, with the support of Garreta Busey, he broke away from an academic career to be a writer in New York City, becoming an editor of The New Yorker, 1936-76.
In his correspondence, Maxwell recalls rooming in the Busey home in Urbana, refers to his own family, comments on his writing, and reflects on growing old.
The Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML) of the University of Illinois holds a Maxwell collection which he gave to the Library. That collection is inventoried in three series which mainly contain letters which he received, manuscripts which he wrote, and books which he published. The RBML collection contains eight letters from Jean Yntema to Maxwell, 1988-95, but nothing from him to Garreta Busey or to Mary Kate Yntema. Much of the material in the RBML's Maxwell collection was secured by Barbara Burkhardt in the course of writing William Maxwell: A Literary Life (2005). Another useful source for Maxwell's life is Christopher Carduff's "Chronology," in William Maxwell: Early Novels and Stories (2008), 939-67.
The Busey-Yntema collection was donated to the University of Illinois Library, 1990-2009, by Jean Busey Yntema and Mary Kate Yntema of Springfield, Illinois.