John Dewey's Letters to
Corinne Chisholm Frost
CORINNE C. FROST
[INCE the letters which John Dewey wrote to me from
1930 through 1950 have been given to the Columbia Uni-
\-ersity Libraries, the call has come for an explanation of
how the correspondence started and what kept it going.
The letters, formally presented to the Libraries at Columbia's
John Dewey Centennial meeting in Low .Memorial on October
20, 1959, were the indirect result of an address given by Professor
William Heard Kilpatrick in the banquet hall of the old W'aldorf-
Astoria Hotel about thirty years ago. On that evening I heard the
name of John Dewey for the first time. Next morning I obtained
a big book. Experience and Nature, read it carefully, reacted
vigorously, wrote a letter to the author and received a cordial
reply. This exchange initiated a correspondence of twenty years
duration, on philosophical problems. The letters are a proof of
Dr. Dewey's belief in the effectiveness of cooperative endeavor.
They have finally "come home" to the grounds where they were
rooted, in the cultural atmosphere «'ithin which they grew. Dr.
Kilpatrick has faith, he has told me, that this deposit in Columbia
University archives v\'ill prove to be a fertile planting—something
more than a ceremonial burial.
The first letter I wrote to John Dewey, in January, 1930, merely
stated my reaction after reading Experience and Nature. At that
time I was traveling continuously in the Southern states for Girl
Scouts, Incorporated, with national headquarters in New York
City. On the train between Memphis and New Orleans, I wrote
impulsively, having had no previous acquaintance with Mr. Dewey
or his works. To tell the truth, I was amused by my own struggles