William Peirce Randel was a professor of English who, later in his career, engaged in full-time writing. Randel was a Professor of English Emeritus for the University of Maine and was also a professor of English and director of American Studies at Florida State University. Randel was an Edward Eggleston Scholar who studied with Ralph Leslie Rusk and Lionel Trilling in the 1940's. He was the author of notable books about history, which include The Ku-Klux-Klan: a century of infamy, The evolution of American taste, The American revolution: mirror of a people, and a biography of Edward Eggleston. Before his death, Randel was working on a biographical book on the life of Samuel Brannan, Mormon, gold miner and journalist.
Scope and Content
The William Randel Research Papers consist of correspondence, manuscripts, research notes, photographs, and ephemera. The bulk of the collection consists of Randel's notes and study materials used to write the chapters of his book on Samuel Brannan. These materials consist of handwritten notes regarding useful information found in books and articles; reference and material notations and locations; photocopied articles and texts of interest; newspaper clippings; and photocopied pictures. The notes and study materials cover Chapters 1 through 7 of Randel's book and include additional notes and materials researched by Randel for the purpose of adding to his previous notes. Notable chapter subjects include Sam Brannan's childhood (Ch. 1); Joseph Smith and Mormonism (Ch. 2); Lola Montez (Ch. 4); Gold Rush in California (Ch. 4 & 5); Sam Brannan vs. Central Pacific Railroad (the Big Four including Collis Huntington) court case (Ch. 5); Brannan's divorce (Ch. 6); Mexico territory issues (Ch. 7); and the death of Sam Brannan (Ch. 7). William Randel's research notes have been organized according to their original order as received by the cataloger. The William Randel Research Papers also contain correspondence from and to Randel by various libraries, historical societies, publishers, television and movie companies, and his literary agent, Bertha Klausner. The correspondence covers a variety of subject matters such as Randel's requests for information on Brannan from different institutions; business letters that reveal Randel's book and television proposals; and the rejection of Randel's proposals by publishers and production studios. The bulk of the collection's correspondence consists of letters to and from various libraries and research facilities. These include The Huntington, New York Historical Society, Louisiana State Library, Tulane University Library, UCLA Special Collections, and the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley. The correspondence is organized chronologically and it should be noted that some folders contain letters written by William Randel and their corresponding return correspondence. A portion of the collection consists of Randel's unfinished manuscripts for his book on Samuel Brannan. The collection contains several different versions and revisions of the story of Brannan. Titles include "The Sam Brannan Story" "Sam Brannan Saga" and "A Thousand A Day." The manuscripts are organized according to their respective titles. Each manuscript is about the life of Sam Brannan. The photographs in the collection consist of photographs of Brannan, photographs of locations and residences related to Brannan, and pictures of artwork associated with Brannan. The collection also contains slides of material associated with Brannan and the city of Calistoga, and also included in the collection are microfilm rolls that contain Randel's research materials on Brannan. The ephemera contains photocopies of articles, newspaper clippings, and several publications; also arranged chronologically.