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Mildred Breedlove Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 92-47
The collection contains a variety of information gathered and created by Breedlove during her time as Poet Laureate of Nevada and after. Included is correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts and poetry, clippings regarding her work, awards and certificates, and scrapbooks of her poetry, honors, and work.

Additionally, there are a series of folders titled "Documentary." These folders, reordered chronologically, were compiled to send to leading newspapers in an effort to persuade editors to initiate a review of her work. She distributed 15 copies of these packets, which originally contained 115 pages. The last eight copies she made contained about 170 pages with an average of four articles/letters to a page.

Dates

  • 1945-2000
  • Majority of material found within 1963-1991

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Materials must be used on-site; advance notice suggested. Access to parts of this collection may be restricted under provisions of state or federal law.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright retained by Mildred Breedlove and heirs.

"Poetry is Music" and "The Playhouse" may not be duplicated under any circumstances.

Extent

3.5 Linear Feet (7 boxes, 1 OS folder)

Overview

Mildred Breedlove was appointed Nevada poet laureate in 1957 and 1959 and was active in the Las Vegas Branch of National Pen Women. She organized the Nevada State Poetry Society in 1961. Included are correspondence, Breedlove's published and unpublished poetry, clippings, awards, certificates, photographs, scrapbook of published poems, and portrait painted in oils.

Biographical Note

With a 10th grade education, Mildred Breedlove (1904-1994) took just seven years of studying and writing poetry to become Nevada’s Poet Laureate. She was not a native-born Nevadan, but she fell in love with Nevada through owning a ranch in southeastern Nevada and in studying to write a poem about Nevada for its Centennial Anniversary.

Mildred Cox was born to John F. Cox and Rose M. Wilson at Coal Hill, Arkansas on May 27, 1904. Her father died when she was just 4 years old after which her mother moved the family, including a brother, Hayden, first to Prowers, Colorado and then to Braggs, Oklahoma. There her mother married Daniel Mathews.

Mildred attended school in Braggs completing the 10th grade before marrying Crongy P. Breedlove at age 16. After her marriage she earned her teacher’s certificate and taught school in Braggs. She also began her writing career as a columnist for two newspapers, the Muskogee Times Democrat and Muskogee Daily Phoenix.

Mildred and Crongy raised their two children — son Crongy Jr. and daughter Barbara — in Pomona, California. The children graduated from Pomona High School. Both went to college with Crongy Jr. graduating from Harvard and Barbara from Scripps College in Claremont, California. Barbara later received her master’s degree from the University of Nevada, Reno and taught in the foreign language department at UNR. Barbara also worked in the chancellor’s office as a contracts officer.

Mildred and her family moved to Las Vegas in 1949 and a year later she began seriously studying poetry. Her career as a poet quickly took off when she sold her first poem in 1953. The National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW) awarded her its achievement award in both 1955 and 1957. She organized the Nevada Poetry Society in 1961 and was active in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

For Mildred 1957 was a year of lows and highs. Mildred’s husband died that year, and she was named by Governor Charles Russell as Nevada’s poet laureate on July 15.

Governor Grant Sawyer commissioned her to write a poem about Nevada for the state’s centennial in 1964. For this work Mildred spent three years traveling around Nevada to research information she used for her poem Nevada. The poem was bound and published, of which a limited edition included an original watercolor illustration by artist Lucile Bruner.

As a result of her work, the United Poets Laureate International Society nominated her for their Nobel Prize for literature and she received the Narrative Poet Laureate of Nevada award. The award was presented in Las Vegas by Dr. Amado M. Yuzon, founder and president of the international organization. Mildred received a gold medallion and gold laurel wreath from President Marcos of the Philippines among her many awards.

In 1965 Mildred read from her poem for an arts awards luncheon held in Reno. The poem was said to consist of 1,224 lines in three sections. “The first section describes the physical aspects of Nevada, its rivers, mountains and deserts. The second section concerns Nevada history while the third section describes Nevada today.” (April 5, 1965 REG p13:2 Nevada Poet Honored)

However, in spite of all the awards and recognition for her poetry, in 1966 Mildred resigned her post as Nevada Poet Laureate. As quoted in a newspaper article, she resigned because Governor Sawyer suppressed the poem Nevada. The governor’s office said it must be a misunderstanding.

Evidently this issue was never resolved. In a 1968 letter to a Mrs. Wengert, Mildred stated that this fight cost her all the assets from the ranch her husband left her in Lincoln County, Nevada. Perhaps the money was spent to self-publish the manuscript to protect her copyright. She had been aware of the suppression as early as 1963, she said, but did not resign then because, “I do not crush easily. My backbone is made of forged steel and I spit at tigers.”

In the letter she said she had become so bitter she could not remain in Nevada. In fact, her address at the time of her death was the city of Ferron, Emory County, Utah.

[Biographical note taken from the Nevada Women's History Project website, http://www.nevadawomen.org, accessed November 28, 2018]

Arrangement

Arranged by record type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Mildred Breedlove in March 1992. Additions to to collection donated by Kathleen Petersen in December 2014.

Separated Materials

Photographs have been transferred to the Special Collections Department photo archive as collection number UNRS-P1993-43.

Processing Information

In regards to the "Documentary" files, these documents have been resorted by date in an effort to remove duplicates. Additionally, the second accrual to these papers contained a number of originals. The originals have been maintained and photocopies discarded. The original donation contained two full copies of the "Documentary" documents as well as two other folders that contained additional photocopies. Only one copy was maintained and integrated with the originals by rough date. Newspaper clippings and correspondence are mixed. Upon review of the scrapbooks received in the later accrual, additional loose originals and copies were discovered. Those were integrated into the "Documentary" files or discarded if duplicates.

Creator

Title
Guide to the Mildred Breedlove Papers
Status
completed
Author
Jessica Maddox
Date
December 2018
Description rules
dacs

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. Special Collections Department Repository

Contact:
Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
Reno Nevada 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5665
775-682-5724 (Fax)