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Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Peter Viereck papers, 1815-2006 

Viereck, Peter, 1916-2006
Phys. Desc: 
83.7 linear feet (83.7 linear feet 89 document boxes 30 record storage cartons 1 flat box)
Call Number: 
Rare Book & Manuscript Library
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Biographical Note

Peter Viereck (1916-2006) was a seminal figure in American conservative thought as well as an award-winning poet and historian who won Guggenheim Fellowships in both poetry and history. Viereck wrote prolifically on politics and intellectual history, and published over a dozen collections of poetry, most recently Door: Poems (2005). In 1949 Viereck won the Pulitzer Prize for his first book of poems, Terror and Decorum. Often credited with launching and naming the modern conservative intellectual movement in the late 1940s, Viereck later criticized its direction and deplored Senator Joseph McCarthy for betraying authentic conservative values. He was professor of Russian and European history at Mount Holyoke College for nearly fifty years Peter Viereck's father, George Sylvester Viereck (1884-1962), played a prominent role in the literary and cultural scene of early twentieth-century America, inspiring and serving as the first secretary of the Poetry Society of America. As a free-lance writer for publications including The Saturday Evening Post, George Sylvester Viereck interviewed many leading figures, including Albert Einstein and Adolph Hitler, and was a friend of Sigmund Freud. During World War II, the elder Viereck's standing was destroyed by his support for Nazi Germany as a paid propagandist. He was arrested and jailed for five years as an unregistered agent of Germany, although espionage charges against him were ultimately dropped. During his imprisonment, his younger son died in U.S. military service at Anzio, Italy, deepening George Sylvester Viereck's rift with his elder son Peter, who served as a U.S. Army intelligence analyst during the war. Peter Viereck had already diagnosed the evils of Nazi Germany in his book Metapolitics: From the Romantics to Hitler, begun at Harvard in 1936 and first published three months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Scope and Contents

The papers of the historian, poet, and conservative political theorist Peter Viereck (1916-2006), his father, George Sylvester Viereck (1884–1962), and other family members. The collection includes letters, manuscripts, documents, photographs, tapes, printed material, and memorabilia of Peter Viereck (1916-2006) and those of his father, George Sylvester Viereck (1884-1962), and mother, Margaret Hein Viereck. Some of the notable correspondents are Daniel Boorstin, Joseph Brodsky, Sigmund Freud, W.V.O. Quine, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., George Bernard Shaw, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and William Carlos Williams. There are extensive files of manuscripts of Viereck's work, as well as those of his father. In addition, there are numerous files which contain photographs of the Viereck family and their friends and associates.