University of Georgia Special Collections Libraries
University of Georgia Libraries

Finding Aid for The Ralph H. Stephens Collection 1910-1994 (UGA 01-023)

RG 1 SG 10 : University of Georgia Press
8 Ms. Boxes : Approximately 4 cu.ft.


Ralph Haygood Stephens was born on October 4, 1910 in Wrens, Georgia. He grew up helping his father, Charles Wynn, put out The Jefferson Reporter, a weekly paper that had to be typeset by hand. During this time he became the first of four sons to serve as editor for his father’s newspaper.

He graduated from Wrens High School as the class Salutatorian in 1928. Stephens went on to receive his BA degree from Georgia Southern College (1933) and his MA in English at the University of Georgia in 1939.

In the initial years of his professional life Stephens was the principle of two high schools, served in the Army during World War II, and taught English at the University of Georgia for several years. Along with John Donald Wade he was instrumental in establishing the Georgia Review, the University of Georgia’s literary quarterly.

Ralph Stephens joined the University of Georgia’s staff in 1936 as a graduate assistant in the English Department and served as assistant director of the University Press from 1940-49. He was an assistant professor of journalism from 1949-50. In 1950, Stephens became the director of the University of Georgia Press, a post he held until his retirement in 1978.

He was responsible for initiating several series, among them Contemporary Poetry, Georgia History, Lamar Lectures on Southern Life and Letters, and Wormsloe Foundation Publications on Colonial History. During his tenure at the university press, it published more than 500 books in various disciplines.

Throughout his career Stephens had been interested in promoting the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry and became much in demand for his poetry readings, with Robert Frost listed as his favorite poet. He regularly gave poetry recitals for high schools, colleges, writer workshops, and various clubs.

The Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists honored him for his lifetime of devotion to published works. Stephens was also the recipient of a Southern Books Competition award for book design and had served as Vice President of the Association of American University Presses.

Scope and Content:

The Ralph H. Stephens Collection arrived at the University of Georgia in 2001. The collection, with no known provenance, was organized in a manner that would be both logical and functional to the researcher. It is a small collection that consists of items from both Stephens’ personal and professional life.

This collection offers a glimpse at the personal and professional life of Ralph Haygood Stephens, former director of the University of Georgia Press (1950-1978). The eight-container collection has been organized into two groups, Professional and Personal.

The Professional group consists of two series: UGA Press and Awards and Certificates. The UGA Press series consists of a small amount of office files that include publishing lists, notes, and newspaper articles concerning the Press and Stephens.

Also included are a few biographical sketches and resumes of Stephens’, a copy of Who’s Who in Publishing, and a bound copy of correspondence from colleagues that Stephens received upon retirement. There are four items in the Awards and Certificates series: a Phi Beta Kappa certificate of recognition and a copy of a resolution presented after Ralph Stephens’ death in 1994, a Cobbham Casuals Series signed flyer, and a Dixie Council award plaque.

The Personal group consists of four series: Vital Records, Photographs, Poetry Journals and AV Material.

Vital Records is a small assortment of items representing a broad spectrum from Ralph Stephens’ life. Included is his birth certificate, official Army, honorable discharge certificate, Army dog tags, a Medal of Good Conduct, Field and Camp Notebook, master’s thesis, newspaper obituaries, memorial given by son, and burial flag.

The Photographs series covers Stephens’ life from childhood through adulthood. Also included are family pictures, Press related photos, a dismantled scrapbook that includes correspondence, and a White House presentation to President Jimmy Carter.

The largest series is Poetry Journals it includes both collected and original poems that were originally located, mostly, in plastic binders. Ralph Stephens used these journals for promoting the appreciation and enjoyment of poetry through poetry recitals given at high schools, colleges, writers workshops, and clubs. Two of his earlier poetry collection and original poetry journals are still in their initial bindings.

The last series, AV material, houses the audio tape recordings of Ralph Stephens’ poetry recitation. Included are love poems, Robert Frost, Carl Sandburg, and Byron Herbert Reece poems, and A Panorama of American Poetry: 1835-1935.

In the Photographs series, photos were removed from non-archival housings and then interleaved with acid-free paper. This series also contained a scrapbook that was dismantled for preservation purposes but re-housed in such a way so that the original item’s integrity would not be lost.

Throughout the collection any newspaper or thermo-fax items were photocopied on bond paper for protection of content. Framed items were removed from their original housings as well as items in envelopes or regular office files.


UGA 01-023:1

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, UGA Press, 1968 - 88] University of Georgia Press office files and newspaper articles on the UGA press.
  2. [Ralph H. Stephens, UGA Press, 1959-77] Resume and biographical sketch of Ralph Stephens with two newspaper articles included featuring Ralph Stephens.
  3. [Ralph H. Stephens, UGA Press, 1971] 1 copy of the 1971 Who's Who in Publishing.
  4. [Ralph H. Stephens, UGA Press, 1978] Bound correspondence from friends and collegues to Ralph Stephens upon his retirement.
  5. [Ralph H. Stephens, UGA Press, 1978] Georgia Press Institute/Georgia Press Association 50th Anniversary paperweight.

UGA 01-023:2

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, Awards and Certificates 1991 - 94] Two Phi Beta Kappa certificates of recognition and signed handbill from the Cobbham Casuals Series.
  2. [Ralph H. Stephens, Awards and Certificates, 1976] Dixie Council of Authors and Journalists award plaque.

UGA 01-023:3

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, Vital Records, 1942-45] Medal of Good Conduct, 2 military dog tags, birth certificate, and Army discharge certificate.
  2. [Ralph H. Stephens, Vital Records, 1994] Copy of memorial given by Ralph Stephens' son, four newspaper obituaries.
  3. [Ralph H. Stephens, Vital Records] One copy of the Field and Camp Notebook from South Georgia Teachers College.
  4. [Ralph H. Stephens, Vital Records, 1939] One copy of Ralph Stephens' Masters Thesis: "The Development of Blank Verse in the English Drama from Gorboduc Through Edward II".

UGA 01-023:4

  1. 1. Ralph Stephens burial flag (American flag).

UGA 01-023:5

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, Photographs, 1910-81] Eight portrait photographs of Ralph Stephens (1910-1981).
  2. [Ralph H. Stephens, Photographs with Correspondence, 1913-92] Disassembled scrapbook with both photographs and correspondence (1913-1992).
  3. [Ralph H. Stephens, Photographs with Correspondence, 1978] White House/Jimmy Carter presentation photographs and correspondence (1978).

UGA 01-023:6

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of collected poetry.
  2. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of collected poetry.
  3. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of collected poetry.
  4. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals - Poetry Selections] Unbound journal of collected poetry and selected poetry for readings/recitation.
  5. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of collected poetry.
  6. [Ralph H Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of Frost and Sandburg collected poetry.
  7. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Unbound journal of collected poetry.
  8. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals - Personal Poetry] Bound journal with personal poetry and self-made code of ethics.

UGA 01-023:7

  1. [Ralph H. Stephens, Poetry Journals] Bound journal of collected poetry.

UGA 01-023:8

  1. Six audiotapes entitled: A Panorama of American Poetry: 1835-1935, Read by Ralph Stephens.
  2. Two audiotapes entitled: Love Poems, Readings and Commentary by Ralph Stephens.
  3. One audiotape entitled: Panorama of American Poets (1835-1935), Read by Ralph Stephens.
  4. One audiotape entitled: Robert Frost Poems, Read by Ralph Stephens.
  5. One audiotape entitled: Ralph Stephens Reading Poems by Robert Frost and Carl Sandburg.
  6. One audiotape entitled: Poetry of Byron Herbert Reece, Readings and Commentary by Ralph Stephens.
Processed/Prepared by: Mazie Bowen - November, 2003