Charlton Laird Papers

Identifier: AC 0076

Scope and Contents

The Charlton Laird Papers primarily contains manuscripts (published and unpublished), an unpublished autobiography, I'd Rather Write (circa 1980), and personal and professional correspondence.

The manuscripts include scholarly and fictional, with both drafts and final copies, and speeches. Among the manuscripts are a proposed series of novels that were to follow Thunder of the River, with notes and comments by Helene Laird on the various plots in the initial stages of development.

The correspondence includes information on the Guide to Comparative Literature and Intercultural Relations, a book intended to provide a starting point for the study of influences upon English and American literature and culture. It was to be the result from the cooperative work of more than two hundred scholars and experts chosen for their competence in special fields. It began under the general direction of the Comparative Literature Committee of the National Council of Teachers of English, with Professor Arthur E. Christy, Columbia University, as editor, about 1939. Upon Christy's unexpected death in 1946, Laird assumed the editorship, but the project was plagued by delays and changes in sponsorship. Laird produced completed and edited the manuscript on two occasions, but each time the texts were outdated before details of publication could be worked out and was never published.

In addition, the collection contains correspondence with Sven Liljeblad, folklorist and linguist; Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Nevada author; Robert Gorrell, co-author and English professor at the University; Helen Carlson, author of Nevada Place Names, A Geographical Dictionary; and Max and Michaline Urban, friends and business partners with the Lairds in Max Urban & Co., Inc., promoting Latin American music in the U.S.


  • 1924-1980


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.

Biographical Note

Charlton Grant Laird was born in Nashua, Iowa on March 16, 1901. He received his undergraduate education at the University of Iowa (B.A. 1925; M.A. 1929) and went on to study at Columbia, Stanford (Ph.D. 1940), and Yale. In 1930 and 1931, he was a Traveling Fellow in Europe. Prior to joining the University of Nevada in 1940, he taught at the University of Idaho, Purdue University, and Drake University. From 1945-1968, Laird was a professor of English at the University of Nevada, and was awarded Emeritus status in 1968.

Laird was a linguist as well as a novelist and author of numerous scholarly and reference works. He authored numerous publications, including Modern English Handbook with Robert M. Gorrell, Webster 's New World Thesaurus, You and Your Language, The Miracle of Language, Words, Word, Words, Pickett at Gettysburg, and Laird's Promptory. In addition to scholarly works, Laird published two novels, West of the River and Thunder on the River.

In 1925, Laird married Floy Davis. They remained married until her death in 1944. In 1945, he remarried to Helene Gent. Helen, a published author herself, co-authored a book, The Tree of Language, with her husband. Helen died in 1979.

Laird corresponded with numerous individuals over his profession and personal life. Among them were folklorist and linguist Sven Liljeblad and his wife, Astrid; Nevada author Walter Van Tilburg Clark; Max and Michaline Urban, promoters for Latin America music in the United States; and Helen S. Carlson, author of a book on Nevada place names.

Laird died on May 14, 1984.


5.41 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



Charlton G. Laird (1901-1984) was a linguist and professor of English at the University of Nevada, 1945-1968. In addition to his own publications, he co-authored English textbooks with Robert M. Gorrell, and a language book with wife, Helen Gent Laird. His correspondence includes folklorist and linguist Sven Liljeblad and his wife, Astrid; Nevada author Walter Van Tilburg Clark; Max and Michaline Urban, promoters for Latin American music in the United States; and Helen S. Carlson, author of a book on Nevada place names. The collection contains primarily of published and unpublished manuscripts, an unpublished autobiography, and personal and professional correspondence, including with publishers. Manuscripts include scholarly and fictional publications with both drafts and final copies.


Arranged by subject group.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Charlton Grant Laird in 1981.

Related Materials

In 1982, John Garberson, journalism teacher at the University of Nevada, Reno, began an autobiography/biography project with Laird. Uncompleted upon Garberson's death in 1984, the manuscript, Most of the Whole Truth, was transferred to University Archives and is collection number AC 0151.

AC 0284: Charlton Laird Papers

Separated Materials

Photographs transferred to the University Archives photo archive as collection number UNRA-P3211. Photographs include: 1 photograph of Charlton Laird, circa 1970; family members; and Floy Davis Laird.

Processing Information

Folders 8-26 were received as one folder titled "Speeches (Supposedly Popular)."

Folders 27-38 were received as one folder titled "Misc. Lit,"

Folders 39-63 were received as one folder titled "Misc. Old Copy."

Folders 68-77 were received as one untitled folder.

Guide to the Charlton Laird Papers
Karen Gash
Approximately 1999
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Nevada, Reno. University Archives Repository

Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center
1664 N. Virginia St.
University of Nevada, Reno
Reno NV 89557-0322 USA
775-682-5724 (Fax)