University of Arizona

Students, faculty, staff, and the public are now welcome to visit Special Collections without an appointment from 9 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. 

Special Collections will close at 12 pm on Monday, December 5th for the event Satellites: bringing an astronomy archive to the stage.

Letters of Hoffman Birney

Hoffman Birney

Hoffman Birney (1891-1958) was an American author and New York Times book critic. Birney also spent time working for several government services, such as in the United States Army as the Deputy Chief of reports and publications for the Ballistics department. Throughout his career, Birney wrote and published 30 novels which were based primarily around his knowledge of life in the wild West, Native American cultures, and the Mormon faith.

Dr. D. W. Melick was a medical surgeon who studied at both the University of Arizona in 1931 and the University of Pennsylvania in 1935, where he received his M.D. As a surgeon, Melick specialized in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, practicing in Phoenix, AZ from 1945-67. Following his practice, Melick went on to teach as a professor of surgery at the University of Arizona until 1977. Much of Dr. Melick's work was based in his medical studies and personal research on his family tree, however Melick was also well studied in Mormon religion which was his family’s religion.

This collection contains typescript and holograph letters from Hoffman Birney to Dr. D. W. Melick concerning research on Mormonism and the leaders of the Mormon Church. The letters express opinions on other religions and politics as well as incorporate autobiographical stories. Also included in the collection are two other letters addressed to Dr. Melick—one of which was from Mrs. Birney—and two photographs of Birney and his son.