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Name Banning, Margaret Culkin
Born / Died 1891–1982

The Margaret Culkin Banning collection includes manuscripts, correspondence, printed material, photographs, and other items.

Manuscripts by Banning in the collection include her novels (all published by Harper except where noted) Barbara Lives (1917); Half Loaves (1921); Mixed Marriage (1930); The Third Son (1933); The Iron Will (1935); The Last Few Days (unpublished, 1936); Too Young to Marry (1938); Enough to Live On (1939); Out in Society (1940); Salud: A South American Journal (1940); Conduct Yourself Accordingly (1944); Give Us Our Years (1949); Fallen Away (1951); The Convert (1957); Echo Answers (1960); The Quality of Mercy (1963); The Vine and the Olive (1964); I Took My Love to the Country (1966); The Will of Magda Townsend (W. H. Allen, 1974); The Splendid Torments (1976); and Such Interesting People (1979).

Shorter manuscripts by Banning in the collection include numerous novellas and short stories (ca. 1930s – 1960s), published in various magazines including Colliers, Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s, Ladies Home Journal, McCall’s, The Saturday Evening Post, and several others. Other short manuscripts include essays, memoirs, poems, talks, speeches, and two short plays.

Also present in the collection are Banning’s travel diaries (1946, 1948, 1951-1952, 1954, 1968) and a notebook.

Correspondence in the collection primarily consists of professional letters to and from various editors and agents; these date from 1916 to 1981. Carl Brandt and Bernice Baumgarten (wife of James Gould Cozzens) are heavily represented. Also included are several personal letters and items of fan mail. Notable correspondents include Cass Canfield, Richard Lockridge, and J. P. Marquand.

Printed material in the collection primarily consists of the printed versions of Banning’s short fiction and non-fiction, including numerous magazines and tearsheets. Also included are reviews of Banning’s work and printed items regarding Banning.

Photographs in the collection include several prints of Banning from infancy through adulthood, as well as Banning with various government and military figures, including Mamie Eisenhower, James V. Forrestal, and Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.

Other items in the collection include an award to Banning from the U. S. Executive Office of the President, for service to the President’s Citizens Food Committee (ca. 1948) and various miscellaneous items.

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In a career that spanned six decades, the prolific author Margaret Culkin Banning (1891 – 1982) published several hundred short stories and more than forty books. An early feminist, Banning tackled controversial subjects ranging from birth control to interfaith marriage to career women out-earning their husbands.

This daughter of newspaperman-turned-politician William Edgar Culkin and his wife, the former Hannah Alice Young, was born on March 18, 1891 in Buffalo, Minnesota. While raised in Minnesota, Margaret Frances Culkin traveled east to attend the Sacred Heart Academy in Rochester, New York for one year. She graduated from Vassar College in 1912 and was awarded a research fellowship by the Russell Sage Foundation which she applied to her post-graduate studies at the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. Upon completion of her education in 1914, she married Archibald Banning Jr., a lawyer from Duluth.

In the early years of her marriage and now known as Margaret Culkin Banning, she became active in political and social causes, such as the Junior League and the League of Women Voters. Banning also served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. She also began to write short stories and eventually turned her attention to full-length fiction, publishing her first novel, The Marrying (Harper) in 1920. The book, which centered on a woman seeking a career to the consternation of her middle-class family, earned respectful reviews and her literary career began in earnest. For the next six decades, Banning turned out more than three dozen additional volumes of fiction and nonfiction as well as more than four hundred short stories and essays that were published in popular magazines such as McCall’s, Ladies’ Home Journal, Saturday Evening Post, and The Atlantic Monthly .

Although a devout Roman Catholic, Banning divorced her husband in 1934. She was a single mother to her daughter Mary and son Archibald III, and supported them via her writing. In 1936, she produced a practical guide for young women, Letters to Susan (Harper), a collection of essays in letter form in which she expounded on topics ranging from the consumption of alcohol to premarital sexual relations. The following year, her essay “The Case for Chastity” was one of the most popular published in Reader’s Digest .

A popular public speaker, Banning married her second husband, LeRoy Salsich, a mining company executive, in 1944 and divided her time between homes in Duluth and Tryon, North Carolina. After World War II, she visited England to observe firsthand how British women were being treated and later she worked in refugee camps in Germany and Austria. While she became a fairly well-known public figure, Banning rarely granted interviews and the few she did allow focused solely on her writing and her philanthropic work. Her final completed novel, Such Interesting People (Harper & Row), was published in 1979. At the time of her death at the age of ninety on January 4, 1982, Banning was at work on a novel.

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