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John J. McAleer faculty papers

Collection BC-1995-016: John J. McAleer faculty papers


  • Creation: 1886-1995
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1972 - 1985

Scope and Contents

The John J. McAleer faculty papers document his research and writing of three works on American authors: Theodore Dreiser: An Introduction and Interpretation (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968); Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter (Little, Brown,1984); and Rex Stout: A Biography (Little, Brown, 1977).

McAleer's Theodore Dreiser papers include manuscripts for An Introduction as well as for scholarly articles and reviews of works about Dreiser. These papers also include works of other authors on Dreiser, most significantly of Marguerite Tjader Harris, an author with whom McAleer edited a collection of Dreiser works, Notes on Life (University of Alabama Press, 1974). Correspondence, ephemera, reviews by other authors of publications about Dreiser (including McAleer's works), and a few pages of original Dreiser manuscripts compose the rest of the Dreiser series.

Ralph Waldo Emerson materials are limited to one set of drafts and two sets of galley proofs for Days of Encounter.

The bulk of the McAleer papers pertain to his work on Rex Stout. McAleer was Stout’s authorized biographer and corresponded with him extensively, including a long-running series of biographical questionnaires from 1972-1975. Stout also gave some of his personal papers and photographs to McAleer during the biography project. McAleer used his Stout research to write numerous short works, a Rex Stout Newsletter (published in The Armchair Detective during 1979), and the independently-published Rex Stout Journal. The network of relationships that McAleer built to aid his research grew into a literary society, the Wolfe Pack. Materials include correspondence, ephemera, manuscripts (from both Stout and McAleer), newspaper clippings, proofs, and photographs.


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

These materials are made available for use in research, teaching and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. The original authors may retain copyright to the materials.

Biographical note: John J. McAleer

John J. McAleer was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on August 29, 1923 to Stephen Ambrose McAleer and Helen (Collins) McAleer. He received his bachelor's degree from Boston College in 1945 after taking time off mid-degree to serve in the Army in China, Burma, and India during World War II. He worked briefly in politics on the first John F. Kennedy campaign before returning to Boston College for his master’s degree in 1947. He went on to earn a doctorate in English from Harvard in 1955. He received his first faculty position at Boston College that same year. He taught there, in both the English department and in the Woods College, for the next forty-eight years. He married his wife Ruth (Delaney) McAleer in December 1957, and the two had six children: Mary Alycia, Sarah, Seana, John, Paul, and Andrew.

McAleer was best known for his scholarship on mystery authors and taught a popular series of courses on the art of detective fiction, but his interests were eclectic. Among his published works were biographies of Henry David Thoreau (Artist and Citizen Thoreau, 1971), Ralph Waldo Emerson (Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter, 1984), and novelist Rex Stout (Rex Stout: A Biography, 1977), the latter of which won an Edgar Allan Poe Award; an introduction to the works of novelist Theodore Dreiser (Theodore Dreiser: An Introduction and Interpretation, 1968); an edited edition of eighteenth-century songs (Ballads and Songs Loyal to the Hanoverian Succession, 1962); a much-lauded biographical novel of a soldier in the Korean War (Unit Pride, 1981); and a crime novel about a Boston-based biographer caught up in a series of high-society murders (Coign of Vantage, 1988).

John McAleer died on November 19, 2003.


Bartle, Martha. "Ruth McAleer, 78, teacher; remembered for sharp wit." Boston Globe (27 November 2003). Accessed 28 June 2016

Long, Tom. "John McAleer; wrote novels, column, biography of Emerson." Boston Globe (21 November 2003). Accessed 28 June 2016

Oslin, Reid. "McAleer, Biographer of Stout and Emerson, Dies at 80." Boston College Chronicle, Vol. 12, No. 7 (26 November 2003) Accessed 28 June 2016

Biographical note: Rex Stout

Rex Stout was an American author best known for his detective fiction. He was born December 1, 1886 in Noblesville, Indiana, the sixth of nine children. In 1887 his parents, John and Lucetta Stout, bought a forty-acre farm south of Topeka, Kansas, where Stout grew up. As a young man, Stout tried several trades, including bookkeeping (with a stint in the Navy as a bookkeeper on Theodore Roosevelt’s yacht), ushering at an opera house in Topeka, studying law, and working as a cigar store clerk. He also traveled around the United States and began to work seriously at writing.

Stout published serialized novels and short stories throughout the 1910s, mostly in All Story magazine, but took a break from writing in 1916 when he settled in New York City, married Fay Kennedy, and started a savings and loan business for students with his brother, called the Educational Thrift Service (ETS), which he left in 1929. He and Fay spend the next couple of years in Europe. He worked on the first of several "straight" novels he would produce, How Like a God (1929). He published several more novels in this vein. In 1931, he and Fay divorced. The next year he married Pola Weinbach Hoffman, a textile designer, and together they had two daughters, Barbara (1933) and Rebecca (1937).

In 1934, Stout wrote his first novel featuring the characters Nero Wolfe and his sidekick Archie Goodwin, Fer-de-Lance. For the next four decades, he dedicated his career to writing the Nero Wolfe series. During that time, Stout wrote seventy-two Wolfe novels and novellas, which spawned several radio, television, and film adaptations, and built the dedicated fan base that would later become the Wolfe Pack. In 1969, he received the crime-fiction award, the Silver Dagger, from the Crime Writers' Association.

Stout was involved in the operation of many professional organizations, among them the Authors’ Guild and Authors’ League of America (both of which he served as president), the Dramatists Guild, the Mystery Writers of America, the Screen Writers’ Guild, and the Radio Writers Guild. He was also a lead figure in several political groups. During World War II he was chairman of the Writers’ War Board. He helped to found the Fight for Freedom Committee and Freedom House and gave a series of radio broadcasts concerning Axis propaganda called "Our Secret Weapon." Following the war he continued his political activism by helping to found and serving as president of both the Society for the Prevention of World War III and the Writers Board for World Government.

Rex Stout died on October 27, 1975 at the age of 89 at his estate, High Meadow, in Connecticut.


Anderson, David R. Rex Stout. New York: F. Ungar, 1984.

Erickson, Scott W. "Stout, Rex.” In American National Biography Online, February 2000,

McAleer, John J. Rex Stout: A Biography. Boston: Little, Brown, 1977.


22.75 Linear Feet (46 containers)

Language of Materials



Boston College faculty member John J. McAleer's working files for three of his books on American authors: Theodore Dreiser: An Introduction and Interpretation (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968); Ralph Waldo Emerson: Days of Encounter (Little, Brown,1984); and Rex Stout: A Biography (Little, Brown, 1977). The materials on Rex Stout include extensive background materials, drafts, additional scholarly publications on Stout, two fanzines by McAleer (Rex Stout Journal and Rex Stout Newsletter), and some of Stout's own papers.


Organized into three series. I: Dreiser, Theodore; II: Emerson, Ralph Waldo; III: Stout, Rex.

Series I is further organized into nine subseries: A: Correspondence; B: Dreiser Newsletter; C: Dreiser papers; D: Ephemera; E: Illustrations; F: Linnell-Richeson case; G: Reviews; H: Works by McAleer; and I: Works by others. Note that subseries H: Works by McAleer includes reviews by him.

Series III is further organized into ten subseries. A: Biography and articles; B: Collected Stout; C: Correspondence; D: Fanzines by McAleer; E: Genealogy; F: Literary estate; G: Nero Wolfe literature; H: Reviews of Stout novels; I: Subject files; and J: Wolfe Pack and other Stout fans.

All files are arranged alphabetically within their subseries.


Gift of John. J. McAleer, 1995.

Related Materials

Ed Price collection of Rex Stout, MS.2018.057, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Judson C. Sapp papers and collection of Rex Stout, MS.1996.022, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Rex Stout papers, MS.1986.096, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Separated Materials

This collection included published materials that have been transferred to the John J. Burns Library book collections.

John J. McAleer Faculty Papers
1886-1995 (bulk 1972-1985)
Lynn Moulton
2016 June
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the John J. Burns Library Repository

John J. Burns Library
Boston College
140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill MA 02467 United States