Waring Jones Collection-Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park
Scope and Contents
The Waring Jones Collection is the largest private collection of Hemingwayana donated to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park outside of the Hemingway-Sanford family. Additional items from Jones such as books and printed materials (magazines and journals) have been integrated into those respective collections. Several items from Jones are also on display in the Ernest Hemingway Birthplace Home. The bulk of the ephemera and correspondence is from the 1920s-1940s, presumably items he brought with to Key West or received while living there. The collection documents the everyday life of Ernest Hemingway as an adult. Routine correspondence with publishers, requests for autographs, holiday greetings from friends, Hemingway’s own bookplates, manuscripts reviewed for other authors, and paperwork needed for travel and transportation, most notably, the Pilar, are included. These items presumably came from the closet in Key West. Items from his childhood to young adulthood may have been purchased later by Jones. These items include a boy Scout Diary from Toy Ulman (Hemingway’s childhood friend) photographs of Walloon, a baseball season ticket, keys to the beloved family cottage (Windmere), and the “Dear John” letter from Agnes von Kurowsky, a spelling test, and “the pink letter,” a declaration from a secret admirer to young Hemingway. Portions of the collection have been made available digitally through the Illinois Digital Archives.
Biographical / Historical
Waring Jones was a theatrical producer, newspaper editor, and book and art collector. Jones was born 6 September 1927 in Minneapolis. He was the son of Carl W. Jones and Helen Winton Jones. Waring’s grandfather, Herschel Jones, owned Twin Cities newspapers. Herschel was an avid book collector, and was known for his private collection of Americana. Carl W. Jones followed in his footsteps as a publisher of the Minneapolis Journal and collector of books. Jones served in the army during WWII and was a radio broadcaster in Hawaii. He then majored in English at Princeton and graduated in 1951. He was editor and publisher of the Hokah Chief in Minnesota in the 1950s. He then worked on documentaries in New York. In the 1970s, he moved to London to produce plays there. In 1976 he moved back to Wayzata, Minnesota and continued to work in London for several more years. By the 1980s, Jones focused his attention on local theatre. He helped revive The Playwright’s Centre, a non-profit theater organization supporting playwrights and promoting new plays. While there, he produced half a dozen plays and musicals. The Waring Jones Theatre is named in his honor. Like his father and grandfather, Jones was a collector of books and other memorabilia. His collection was vast, focusing on 19th and 20th Century British and American authors, science fiction, art, manuscripts, and ephemera. His Jack London and Ernest Hemingway collections were two of his largest. Waring Jones died 10 January 2008.
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According to an article by his son, Finn-Olaf Jones, Jones went to Key West, Florida shortly after Ernest Hemingway died in 1961 to see what items he had left behind before moving to Cuba. Items had been stored in the closet of Hemingway’s favorite bartender at Sloppy Joe’s. Estate executors had already sorted through items and were prepared to dispose of the rest. Jones bought the contents of the closet sight unseen. The majority of the items donated to the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park were from this excursion. Jones purchased additional items for his Hemingway collection, including Agnes Von Kurovsky letters from Sothebys, which the Foundation also received. Waring Jones was in contact with the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park as early as 1991 and donating items as early as 1992. The bulk of his collection was donated in 2001. Jones originally intended for his items to be referred to as the Wood Archives to retain anonymity. The collections were referred to as the Waring Jones Collection after his death. Jones was a loyal supporter, advisor, and friend of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park. Jones intended to donate additional items to EHFOP, but his ill health prevented him from doing so.
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Part of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park Archives Repository