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A Guide to the Helen King Hastings Papers

Finding aid created by Carl Van Ness

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

January 2017

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Hastings, Helen King, 1902-1990
Title: Helen King Hastings Papers
Dates: 1947-1959
Abstract: Correspondence and publication manuscripts of Helen King Hastings, central Florida rancher and author of A Little Widow is a Dangerous Thing.
Extent: .5 Linear feet. 1 Box.
Identification: MSS 0373
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Helen King Hastings was a native of Michigan whose family moved to central Florida in the 1910s. Her husband, LaRue Vance Hastings, was a cattleman with a ranch near Fort McCoy. When her husband died, she continued to manage the ranch while also working as a secretary in Ocala. She began to write about her life in Florida for outdoor magazines before she embarked on an autobiography. The autobiography, entitled "Florida Flatwoods," was rejected for publication. Her literary agent then put her in touch with a magazine writer from San Francisco, Jean Muir, who touched up the manuscript and suggested the flashier title, A Little Widow is a Dangerous Thing. The revised manuscript was published under that name by G. P. Putnam in 1959.

Scope and Content

The collection includes a series of letters written by Hastings to her parents and her son, John, from 1947 to 1949. The letters provide additional details of her life experiences. There are also letters regarding her collaboration with Jean Muir and the letters often shed light on people and events chronicled in the book. The collection contains drafts and fragments of her book. Also included is a brief article entitled "The Mound Builders of Florida" which describes Native American artifacts found at Sliver Glen Springs that the author, presumably Hastings, ascribes to a lost race of pre-Indian giants.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Related or Separated Material

Correspondence with Hastings can be found in the Samuel Proctor Collection.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Helen King Hastings Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The bulk of this collection was given to Florida historian Samuel Proctor in the 1980s and later transferred to the George A. Smathers Libraries. Two folders containing correspondence and the mound builders article were previously housed in the Florida Miscellaneous Manuscript Collections.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Florida--Marion County
Ranch life
Women ranchers

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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