Aline Kilmer / Eleanor Gould Correspondence


Biographical Note

Eleanor Gould Packard (1917-2005) was born Oct. 3, 1917, in Newark, N.Y., to Wilson Mosher Gould, a lawyer, and Eleanor Loveland Gould. The family moved to Ohio and Eleanor graduated from high school in East Palestine, Ohio, in 1934. She won a scholarship to Oberlin College and graduated summa cum laude with a major in English in 1938. After working at various publishing firms, Eleanor Gould joined the copy desk of The New Yorker in 1945. There she met her husband Frederick A. Packard, and remained as a copyeditor for fifty-four years. In 1999, she had a stroke at her desk at the age of 81, and had to retire as a result of ill health. She died 6 years later, in 2005, at the age of 87.

Gould was the first, last, and only Grammarian for The New Yorker. She saw the galley proof after the assigning editor, fact checker, and copy editor went through it. For many years Gould completed a proof on every nonfiction piece published by The New Yorker; her proofs shaped the voice of the magazine.  Her professional papers, including letters to her from E. B. White, J. D. Salinger, and others of their stature can be found at the New York Public Library.

Poet and children’s book author Aline Kilmer (1888–1941), wife of Joyce Kilmer from Stillwater, N.J., became Gould’s mentor after years of correspondence that Eleanor initiated at the age of fifteen. Kilmer taught Gould editing, helped her come to New York, and encouraged her to apply to work as a copy-editor for The New Yorker.

Robert Coates Holliday (1880-1947) participated in all aspects of the literary profession. A writer himself, Holliday later became Joyce Kilmer’s literary executor.

Scope and Content

The bulk of this collection includes correspondences between Aline Kilmer and Eleanor Gould Packard, Robert Coates Holliday and Eleanor Gould Packard, and various other letters addressed to Eleanor Gould Packard, Aline Kilmer, and Robert Coates Holliday. One of the letters - a fan letter - was written by Eleanor to Aline Kilmer, which marked the beginning of the friendship between the two women. The letters from Aline followed Eleanor through high school, undergraduate years at Oberlin College, and Eleanor’s move to New York. A small collection of letters from Robert Cortes Holliday to Eleanor Gould Packard, written mostly just before and after Aline’s death in 1941 also appears among these papers.

These letters chronicle country and suburban life during the Depression Era along with prevailing literary, cultural, medical, economic, and religious attitudes, and the language used to express them. Letters from both Kilmer and Holliday between November 1940 and May 1941 contain information on the birth and death of Gould’s son, Jonathan. 

Spanning the 1920s to the 1960s, the collection’s photographs come in part from the period before Aline and Eleanor’s friendship and continue after Aline’s death, documenting Gould’s continuing relationship with Aline’s family.

See the Joyce Kilmer/Campion College Collection, 1909-1975 for related materials.


Manuscripts generously donated by Susan H. Packard.

Processed by Kenneth Guay and Katie Simpson, 2017 



Series 1 - Correspondence  (1906-1966)

Series includes letters from Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould Packard (3 folders), from Robert Coates Holliday to Eleanor Gould Packard (1 folder), Damaged letters (1 folder), and miscellaneous letters (1 folder).

Series Folder Title
1 1

Letters from Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould Packard, 1932 - March 1934

Note: The first letter in this folder is Eleanor Gould's initial fan letter to Aline Kilmer.  All other letters were sent by Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould.

1 2 Letters from Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould Packard, April 1934– April 1937
1 3

Letters from Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould Packard, May 1937  – March 1941

Note: Letter from November 5, 1940 includes Aline Kilmer's initial response to news of Gould's pregnancy.  Successive letters include additional discussion of the child.

1 4

Letters from Robert Coates Holliday to Eleanor Gould Packard, n.d., Aug. - Sept. 1936, April 1941 - Oct. 1943

Notes:  Most of Holliday's letters are signed off as 'Bob'; April 18, 1941 is signed as 'Roberto Fernando,' and June 19, 1941 as 'Fernando Cortez.'  Other letters may include additional variations on Holliday's name.

The May 21, 1941 letter includes Holliday's response to news of the death of Gould's son Jonathan.

The letter from June 23, 1941 is addressed to Reba Rayburn, who was living at the same address as Gould.  The letter from August 26, 1943 is addressed to 'Tommy'; this likely refers to Thomas Bernard Preston.

1 5

Damaged Letters

Note: These letters were photocopied and integrated into Correspondence folders 1-4.

1 6

Miscellaneous Letters and Documents, n.d., 1906-1966

Postcard from Bert Kilmer to Robert Holliday, September 24, 1943

Letter from Kip Kilmer to Eleanor Gould, c. 1941 (Congratulatory letter on son Jonathan’s birth)

Letter to Marie from Robert Holliday, June 7, 1906

Letter from Frederic J. Haskin to Eleanor Gould, November 25, 1932

Letter from Kip Kilmer to Aline Kilmer , February 19, 1934

Card from Aline Kilmer to Eleanor Gould, n.d.

Letter from Deborah “Dibs” Kilmer to Aline Kilmer , March 11, 1934

List of things to bring (addressed to Bert Kilmer)

Note on Envelope (to Eleanor, possibly from Reba Rayburn)

Letter from Florence Bullock (?) to Eleanor Gould (They met through Aline), September 1939

Letter from Kip Kilmer to Eleanor, January 7, 1941

Letter from John Bunker to Eleanor Gould, February 26, 1942

Letter from unsigned to Robert Holliday, August 31, 1943

Postcards (2) to Thomas Preston from Robert Holliday, August 26, 1943

Reports on Sea Lyons (3 reports on 2 sheets of paper - photocopies)

Random paper scraps addressed to Robert Holliday (photocopies)

Letter from Kathryn Hulme to Eleanor Gould, April 21, 1966



Series 2 - Photographs

In addition to Eleanor Gould Packard, Aline Kilmer, and Robert Cortes Holliday, subjects include Kate Rawl, a camp counselor of Eleanor’s, Eleanor’s son Jonathan, Christopher (Kip) Kilmer, Joyce and Aline’s second son, Christopher’s wife Bert, and Christopher and Bert’s children: Robin Kilmer, Pookie Kilmer, Margaret (Muggins) Kilmer, and Samantha (Sammy) Kilmer (listed here in order of age).

Series Folder Title
2 1 Photographs of Aline Kilmer, n.d., 1920-1949
2 2 Photographs of Kate Rawl, early 1930s
2 3 Photographs of Eleanor Gould and son Jonathan, 1941
2 4 Photographs of Aline Kilmer’s family, n.d., 1920s-1940s
2 5 Photographs of Eleanor Gould, 1960s
2 6 Photographs of Aline Kilmer’s Family, 1960s



Series 3 - Newspaper Clippings

Series Folder Title
3 1 Newspaper Clippings, n.d.