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William Wister Haines papers

Ms. Coll. 1231

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Haines, William Wister, 1908-1989
William Wister Haines papers
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
Ms. Coll. 1231
7.33 linear feet (8 boxes)
William Wister Haines (1908-1989) was an American author, screenwriter, and playwright, most famous for his novels Slim and High Tension, which depicted working-class protagonists during the Great Depression, and Command Decision, a play and novel depicting the final stages of World War II. This collection includes material related to his literary work, especially in the form of drafts of novels, short stories, essays and articles, screenplays and television scripts, and plays.
Cite as:
William Wister Haines papers, 1932-1967, Ms. Coll. 1231, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania
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William Wister Haines was an American author, screenwriter, and playwright. Born in Des Moines, Iowa in 1908, he studied engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, but was unable to find work as an engineer during the Great Depression; instead, he worked as an electric lineman for the railroad, experience he used when writing his first two novels, Slim (1934) and  High Tension (1938). While serving as an intelligence officer in the Air Force during World War II, Haines began writing the play  Command Decision based on his experiences, which he later turned into a novel at his publisher’s insistence. The success of the novel led to renewed success for the stage version, and the story was later adapted into a film by MGM. Haines had difficulty repeating the success of  Command Decision, and in the 1950s and 1960s he increasingly turned to writing screenplays for financial support. However, his novel  The Winter War (1961), an account of the 1877 U.S. military campaign against the Sioux, was a popular Western and won the Spur Award of the Western Writers of America. Other published books include  The Hon. Rocky Slade (1957),  Target (1964),  The Image (1968), and a non-fictional account of his wartime experience,  Ultra (1980). Later in life Haines retired to Laguna Niguel in Southern California, and died aboard a cruise ship in 1989.

Scope and Contents

This collection includes material related to William Wister Haines’ literary work. It contains a detailed series of drafts for ten of his novels, published and unpublished, as well as signed first editions of most of the published work, arranged alphabetically by title. The novel drafts, arranged chronologically, are extensive, carefully delineated by version and date, and often accompanied by revealing (and sometimes harshly critical) notes from editors.. Some of the novel drafts also include research material.

In addition, the collection contains a large number of versions of Haines’ most successful play, Command Decision -- though these are not as carefully delineated as the novel drafts -- as well as press clippings, photographs, and costume lists for the performances, all of which are arranged chronologically. His unproduced plays are represented only by single drafts.

The collection also contains drafts of Haines’ published and unpublished short stories, poems, and magazine articles, though with the exception of several published in The Saturday Evening Post, these are generally represented only by a single draft. These drafts are arranged alphabetically by title. As outlined in the donor correspondence, studio copyright considerations allowed only Haines’ unpublished screenplays to be represented in this collection, as well as a teleplay in which he attempted to adapt several of his own short stories into a TV series, arranged alphabetically by title.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts,  2016 September 7

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Sam Allingham

Access Restrictions

The bulk of this collection is open for research use. However, access to original audio/visual materials and computer files is restricted. The Kislak Center will provide access to the information on these materials from duplicate master files. If the original does not already have a copy, it will be sent to an outside vendor for copying. Patrons are financially responsible for the cost. The turnaround time from request to delivery of digital items is about two weeks for up to five items and three to seven weeks for more than five items. Please contact Reprographic Services ( for cost estimates and ordering. Once digital items are received, researchers will have access to the files on a dedicated computer in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Researchers should be aware of specifics of copyright law and act accordingly.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Source of Acquisition

Gifts of William Wister Haines, 1961-1969

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Drafts (documents)
  • Novels
  • Plays (performed works)
  • Poems
  • Research notes
  • Writings (document genre)
Personal Name(s)
  • Haines, William Wister, 1908-1989
  • American literature--20th century
  • Authors
  • Authors, American--20th century
  • Literature

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Collection Inventory

I. Novels.

Box Folder

Command Decision, first draft, 1946.

1 1-2

Command Decision, signed first edition, 1947.

1 3

Command Decision, signed Armed Forces edition, 1947.

1 4

Command Decision, Readers Digest edition, 1947.

1 5

Command Decision, signed first UK edition, 1948.

1 6

Command Decision, signed Pocket Book edition, 1949.

1 7

Command Decision, signed Argentine edition, 1950.

1 8

Command Decision, signed Bantam Books edition, 1959.

1 9

End of the Rainbow, submission copy, 1938-1939.

1 10-11

End of the Rainbow, partial carbon copy, 1940.

1 12-14

End of the Rainbow, author's working copy, 1940.

1 15-18

High Tension, signed first edition, 1938.

2 1

High Tension, signed Pocket Books edition, 1948.

2 2

The Hon. Rocky Slade, submission copy, 1956.

2 3-4

The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed first edition, 1957.

2 5

The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed copy, 1957.

2 6

The Hon. Rocky Slade, signed Bantam edition, 1959.

2 7

The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), early notes, circa 1965.

2 8

The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), early draft, 1965.

2 9-12

The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), third draft, 1967.

2 13-17

The Image (originally titled "Papoose"), ribbon copy, 1967.

3 1-2

Slim, first handwritten draft, circa 1932.

3 3-5

Slim, signed first edition, 1934.

3 6

Slim, Signet pocket edition, 1947.

3 7

Standard of Living, submission copy, 1936.

3 8-10

Target, research materials, circa 1964.

3 11-12

Target, typescript draft #1, circa 1964.

3 13-14

Target, typescript draft #2, circa 1964.

3 15-16

Target, third typescript, 1964.

4 1-2

Target, third typescript with research notes, 1964.

4 3-4

Target, setting copy, 1964.

4 5-6

Target, proofs, 1964.

4 7-8

Target, manuscript for film offering, 1964.

4 9-10

Target, signed first edition, 1964.

4 11

Target, signed Bantam edition, 1965.

4 12

A Virtuous Woman, signed mimeograph copy, 1950.

4 13

The Winter War, first draft, 1959.

4 14

The Winter War, second draft.

5 1-2

The Winter War, third draft, 1960.

5 3-4

The Winter War, fourth draft, 1960.

5 5-6

The Winter War, carbon of submission typescript, 1960.

5 7-8

The Winter War, first galley proofs, 1961.

5 9-10

The Winter War, second galley proofs, 1961.

5 11

The Winter War, signed first edition, 1961.

5 12

The Winter War, notes and research, circa 1959-1961.

5 13

II. Short Stories / Poems.

a. Drafts of stories sold to magazines.

Box Folder

"Big Rosie", 1961.

6 1

"Canyon of Surprise", 1948.

6 2

"Canyon of Surprise," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1949.

8 2

"Divorce for Sale," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1953.

8 3

"Equinoctial Epizootic", 1941.

6 3

"Equinoctial Epizootic," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1941.

8 1

"Give the Girl a Break," early draft, 1955.

6 4

"Give the Girl a Break," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1955.

8 5

"Hot Behind Me", 1935.

6 5

"Just Plain Nuts", 1934.

6 6

"Lemonade", circa 1961.

6 7

"Pole Buddy", 1961.

6 8

"A Pretty Soft Thing", 1935.

6 9

"Primitive", 1952.

6 10

"Remarks: None", 1934.

6 11

"Rum, Sherry, and Quicklime", 1945.

6 12

"Unwelcome Daughter-in-Law," early draft, 1953.

6 13

"Unwelcome Daughter-in-Law," published in The Saturday Evening Post, 1953.

8 4

b. Drafts of unsold stories.

Box Folder

"Absolutely Free", circa 1938.

6 14

"The Antagonist", 1953.

6 15

"Anything You Want", 1938.

6 16

"Bubbles", 1961.

6 17

"Edge of Doom", 1940.

6 18

"The Factor", 1952.

6 19

"The Gangbuster", circa 1953.

6 20

"The Golden Goose", circa 1953.

6 21

"The Happiest Fool", circa 1952.

6 22

"Pleasure Ashore", 1940.

6 23

"Plus or Minus", 1952.

6 24

"Portrait in Miniature", 1952.

6 25

"Requiem for a Passion", 1958.

6 26

"The Rescue of Rooney", 1952.

6 27

"Star of Liberty", 1939.

6 28

"Sunbeam", 1947.

6 29

"Water Blind", 1940.

6 30

c. Poems.

Box Folder

Issue of the Atlantic containing "Sirens: a Sonnet", 1942.

6 31

III. Essay and article drafts.

Box Folder

"California Wines Today" (originally entitled "I Often Wonder"), 1951.

6 32

"Hunting Moon", 1955.

6 33

Anthology containing "Freighters of the Future", 1958.

6 34

"Freighters of the Future", 1953.

6 35

"Illusion a la Mode", 1941.

6 36

IV. Screenplays / Television scripts.

Box Folder

The Doctor's Girl, 1953.

6 37

The Ivory Tower, 1940-1941.

6 38

On Top (TV script, including preliminary story drafts), undated.

6 39

V. Plays.

Box Folder

Coast to Coast, 1957.

7 1-3

Command Decision, first two versions (originally titled "Command"), 1945-1946.

7 4

Command Decision, early drafts (originally titled "Command"), 1946.

7 5-11

Command Decision, working drafts, 1947.

7 12-15

Command Decision, Beverly Hills version.

7 16

Command Decision, in Theatre Arts, 1948.

7 17

Command Decision, signed first printing.

7 18

Command Decision, signed acting edition.

7 19

Command Decision, costume list, circa 1947.

7 20

Command Decision, press clippings, 1947-1949.

7 21

Command Decision, playbills, 1947-1949.

7 22

Command Decision, promotional photographs, circa 1947.

7 23

Condition Scarlet, 1954.

7 24

Happily Ever After, 1938.

7 25