Professor of English at the University of Michigan. Correspondence, course materials, and writings; also collected materials of father, Lexington, Kentucky journalist, R. Lee Davis, and of brother T.O. Davis, a motion picture theater manager and author.
The papers of Joe Lee Davis total 8 linear feet of correspondence, course materials, manuscripts of writings, and personal materials documenting his scholarly interests and skills as a teacher. Of added significance are collected family materials: journals and other papers of his father, Lexington, Kentucky journalist R. Lee Davis, his aunt Kate Davis, and his brother T. O. Davis, a motion picture theater manager and unpublished novelist.
Joe Lee Davis was a literary man who loved books and literary discussions. As a young man in Kentucky, he wrote poetry, articles for his father's newspapers, and essays on literary topics. The letters he wrote and received in the 1920s contain exchanges about books read and attempts at descriptive narrative. Davis and his correspondents in this period were honing their skills as writers through the medium of the letter. These letters are always interesting discussions of contemporary life, albeit somewhat pretentious in tone.
The largest portion of the collection are Davis' course materials consisting of files of notes and lectures on various authors, as well as other materials used in his specialized English classes. Of note, too, are manuscripts of Davis' writings, his master's and doctoral theses, and copies and manuscripts of his other writings (journal articles and newspaper book reviews).
The collected family materials are of interest for his father's journals covering family activities and his newspaper career in Lexington, and photographs of motion picture theaters in Kentucky and Ohio managed by his brother, Thomas O. Davis.