Archibald MacLeish was a graduate of Yale and of the Harvard Law School, where he wrote poetry in his spare time. During WWI MacLeish served as an ambulance driver and artillery captain, and upon his return to the U.S. took a job with a law firm in Boston. He found his work unsatisfying and eventually moved his family to France where he could write. While in Europe, MacLeish had contact with Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway, a fellow ambulance driver from the War. Before returning to America in 1928, he published four books of poetry. He returned to America where he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. He was appointed to numerous positions in government, including: Librarian of Congress, Secretary of State for Cultural Affairs, and Director of the War Department’s Office of Facts and Figures. MacLeish left the political arena in 1949 and took an appointment at Harvard as Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. His Collected Poems (1952) won him a second Pulitzer along with the National Book Award and the Bollingen Prize. He died in Boston, MA, in 1982.
Archibald MacLeish’s literary archive is housed at the Beinecke Library; for a detailed description of the collection visit the Guide to the Archibald MaLeish Papers. Selected materials from the archive can be seen online in the Beinecke’s Digital Library: Archibald MacLeish Papers. Additional related resources in Beinecke Library collections may be found in Orbis and the Finding Aid Database.