University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Lois Jansson Papers 1934-1981

© 2013 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Jansson, Lois. Papers




.25 linear feet (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


This collection consists of Lois Jansson's correspondence with writers Norman and John Maclean, as well as correspondence between John Robert Jansson and the Jansson family. This collection also includes Lois Jansson's creative writings and family histories. Lois Jansson was the wife of John Robert Jansson, whose role as the Forest Service Ranger in charge of the Mann Gulch Fire is detailed in Norman Maclean's book Young Men and Fire.

Information on Use


This collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Jansson, Lois. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

The Mann Gulch fire was a 1949 wildfire in Helena National Forest, Montana that killed 13 firefighters. Due to the high number of deaths caused by the fire, there has been much controversy surrounding the Mann Gulch fire.

Lois Jansson was the wife of John Robert Jansson, the Canyon Ferry District Ranger who was on duty during the Mann Gulch Fire in 1949. Lois Jansson was born in 1920. She received a degree in social work from the University of Montana and married John Robert Jansson in 1941. John Robert Jansson died in 1965. Lois Jansson died in 2005.

Norman Maclean (1902-1990) was an American author and scholar whose major works include A River Runs Through It and Other Stories and Young Men and Fire. He received a bachelor of arts from Dartmouth in 1924 and a PhD in English from the University of Chicago in 1940. As a scholar, he wrote on topics are varied as Shakespeare and the Battle of Little Bighorn. After his retirement, he began writing for a general audience, most notably A River Runs Through It and Other Stories and Young Men and Fire. Maclean died in 1990.

In Young Men and Fire, Maclean extensively researched Mann Gulch, and using multiple sources—including his own independent investigation, the official report, interviews with survivors and a forensic investigation—he was able to provide a new, more extensive interpretation of the development of the fire and the response to it.

Norman Maclean's son, John Maclean, was born in 1949. After a career as a journalist, he resigned from his position at the Chicago Tribune and wrote Fire on the Mountain. In much the same vein as Young Men and Fire, John Maclean's Fire on the Mountain tells the story of the 1994 South Canyon Fire. This collection was donated by John Maclean.

Scope Note

This collection is divided into two series: Series I, Correspondence and Series II, Creative Writing and Family History.

Series I, Correspondence consists of correspondence between Lois Jansson and Norman and John Maclean. The majority of the correspondence is photocopies, and only a few originals are included in this collection.

Series II, Creative Writing and Family History, contains Lois Jansson's creative writing and a collection of letters that John Robert Jansson wrote to the Jannson family during the 1930s.

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Subject Headings


Series I: Correspondence

Box 1   Folder 1

Lois W. Jansson and Norman F. Maclean, 1979-1981

Box 1   Folder 2

Lois W. Jansson and John Maclean, 1992-1995

Series II: Creative Writing and Family History

Box 1   Folder 3

"Have You Ever Stopped to Wonder?", 1965

Box 1   Folder 4

The Year Dad Went West, 1991

Box 1   Folder 5

1929 Was a Good Year, 1994

Box 1   Folder 6

Correspondence between John Robert Jansson and the Jansson Family, 1934-1938