OGBURN, CHARLTON, 1911-1998.
Charlton Ogburn papers, 1898-1994

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322



Permanent link: http://pid.emory.edu/ark:/25593/8zqjk

Descriptive Summary

Creator:Ogburn, Charlton, 1911-1998.
Title: Charlton Ogburn papers, 1898-1994
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 543
Extent:32.25 linear ft. (65 boxes) and 1 oversized paper (OP)
Abstract:Personal papers of Charlton Ogburn, Jr., his father, Charlton Ogburn, Sr. and his mother, Dorothy (Stevens) Ogburn, most dealing with their quest for the "true" identity of William Shakespeare.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact MARBL in advance to access this collection.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.


Gift, 1976 with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Charlton Ogburn papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Charlton Ogburn, Jr., author, State Department official, and naturalist was born March 15, 1911, in Atlanta, Georgia, the only child of Charlton Ogburn, Sr. and Dorothy Stevens Ogburn. He was educated at Harvard University, receiving his S.B. in 1932. He also attended the National War College, completing his studies in 1952.

Upon leaving Harvard, he worked for Viking Press, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and, from 1929-1941, the Book of the Month Club, where he served as a reader and reviewer. In 1941 he joined the United States Army, and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Ogburn memorialized his tour of duty in Burma in a book entitled Merrill's Marauders, published in 1959, which was later made into a movie by Warner Brothers. From 1946 to 1949, Ogburn worked as a desk officer for the Division of South-East Asian Affairs, and from 1949 to 1957 he worked for the Department of State, holding various posts, including that of Political Advisor to the United States Delegation to the United Nations Security Council's Committee of Good Offices for the Indonesian Dispute. From 1953 to 1957 he served as the Chief of the Division of Research for the Near East, South Asia, and Africa. In 1957 he left the State Department in order to devote his energies to writing full-time. He has written widely, but has concentrated on wildlife and conservation, and on the controversy surrounding the identity of William Shakespeare, continuing the lifelong work of his parents. His major publication on the Shakespeare question was The Mysterious William Shakespeare.

Ogburn married two times. With his first wife, he had one child, Charlton Ogburn, III. After his divorce, Charlton Ogburn, Jr., married Vera Ogburn, and had two daughters, Nyssa and Holly.

Charlton Ogburn, Sr. was born in Butler, Georgia, in 1882, the son of planter Charlton Greenwood Ogburn and Irene Wynne Ogburn. He graduated from Gainesville [Georgia] High School in 1898, received his A. B. in 1902 and LL.B in 1905 from Mercer University, and attended Harvard Law School, 1906-1907. He began his law practice in Savannah, Georgia, where he remained until 1919. Admitted to the New York Bar in 1921, he represented many New York corporations there and in Washington D.C. Serving as General Counsel of the National Planning Association, he authored several books on legal subjects, including Government and Labor and The Lawyer and Democracy. From 1949-1952 he was vice-chair and Counsel of the American Bar Association's Interprofessional Commission on Marriage and Divorce Laws. He also served as vice-president of the Southeastern Law Center Foundation.

From 1917-1919, Ogburn served as an examiner of the National War Labor Board. He conducted a nation-wide investigation of the electric railway industry for the U. S. Government. At the same time he worked as counsel and executive secretary of the Federal Electric Railway Commission. The American Federation of Labor and its affiliated international unions retained Ogburn as general counsel from 1933 to 1938. In 1936 he began a seven-year association with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

Charlton Ogburn, Sr. and his wife Dorothy became interested in the question of the authorship of the Shakespeare works and eventually co-authored two books on the subject, joining the side of those who identified the author as Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. These books were The Renaisaance Man of England (1947) and This Star of England (1952). Dorothy Ogburn continued her research and writing after her husband's death in 1962. She co-authored with her son, Charlton Shakespeare: The Man Behind the Name (1962). She also published, in the 1930s mystery novels set in Georgia. She died in 1981.

Scope and Content Note

The Charlton Ogburn papers document the literary and professional life of Charlton Ogburn, Jr., and also include papers on his father, Charlton Ogburn, Sr. and his mother, Dorothy (Stevens) Ogburn. The entire collection spans the years from 1898 to 1994 but the bulk of the material covers the thirty years from 1945 to 1975. The strength of this collection rests on the meticulous records by both Charlton Ogburn Jr. and his parents concerning their quest for the "true" identity of William Shakespeare. The collection also includes material related to Ogburn's work in foreign affairs, writings, correspondence, and family papers.

Arrangement Note

Organized into five series: (1) Writings on Shakespeare, (2) Other writings, (3) Foreign affairs, (4) Conservation materials, and (5) Ogburn family papers.

Description of Series