Zachary Ball Papers
Scope and Contents
The Zachary Ball Papers contain literary papers, publications, correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, and business records created and accumulated by Zachary Ball and his son, Kelly Ray Masters Jr., between 1944 and 1983. Ball's papers were created primarily from his composition of nineteen published and unpublished works and the operation of his audio recording sales firm, Joe Panther Enterprises. The material is organized into three series: literary works, Joe Panther Enterprises, and personal papers.
The papers in the literary works series were created from Ball's composition of five published books; ten published short stories or adaptations; four unpublished works; and one motion picture adaptation of a novel. They are organized into five subseries: books, short stories, unpublished works, motion picture, and other literary material. In each of the first three subseries, the papers are arranged alphabetically by title and the material for each composition is arranged chronologically in order of creation when known. Ball sometimes wrote typescripts on the backs of old typescript pages and letters received. Such occasions have been noted in the container listing. Among the more valuable scrap paper is his correspondence with his California literary agent, Ralph L. Autry, from 1958 to 1966, on the reverse of typescript pages 113-161 of The Conquerers [sic]. Elsewhere, Ball's ten short stories appear in their original published magazine form. The subseries for the motion picture adaptation of Joe Panther contains production and promotional material collected by Ball over the course of the making and marketing of the film.
Ball's records from Joe Panther Enterprises primarily include promotional material for the firm and three samples of audio recordings. The personal papers series contains assorted photographs, clippings, and correspondence accumulated by Zachary Ball. Finally, the pieces of correspondence with the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection were selected and photocopied from the correspondence file of the de Grummond Collection because they provide information on Ball's literary career, Joe Panther Enterprises, and locations of other material created by Zachary Ball. Both Ball and his son, Kelly Ray Masters Jr., corresponded with the collection. The letters are arranged chronologically
- Majority of material found within [1944-1978]
Conditions Governing Access
Noncirculating; Available for research
Conditions Governing Use
The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.
Biographical / Historical
Kelly Ray Masters was born in the Blackjack Hills west of Princeton, Missouri, to Abelino and Iva (Herrick) Masters on June 16, 1897. He lived in or near Altoona, Kansas, between the ages of six and thirteen, where he attended school and worked for his father and neighbors. Masters dropped out of school at the start of the seventh grade to help support his family, working in a series of factory jobs in Kansas City, Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri. At age seventeen, while working as a bellhop at the St. Charles Hotel in St. Joseph, he joined a small tent repertory show, playing small towns in Missouri. Masters spent the next twenty-five years touring the Midwest with various troupes and as part of a musical act with his younger brother. Second World War gasoline rationing finally put an end to his roaming.
Masters had married Gladys Green in 1931 and had a son, Kelly Ray Jr. He delivered newspapers in Austin, Texas, to support his family while selling stories to magazines of widely varying quality. Masters took the pen name Zachary Ball by combining the names of two of his favorite movie stars: Zachary Scott and Lucille Ball. While in Austin, he co-wrote several short stories for the Saturday Evening Post and Collier's with Frankie-Lee Weed (later Frankie-Lee Janas). Weed wrote under the pseudonym Saliee O'Brien. The pair submitted stories under O'Brien's name when the lead character was a woman and under Ball's name when a man.
Ball published two books for adults, Pull Down to New Orleans (1945) and Piney (1950), before turning to children's fiction for the school library market. He specialized in adventure stories for boys. Joe Panther (1950), a novel about a young Seminole in south Florida, was Ball's first juvenile work. It spawned a number of sequels and was adapted as a motion picture in 1976. Bristle Face (1962), one of Ball's many tales prominently featuring dogs, received the Dorothy Canfield Fisher and William Allen White Awards for 1964 and 1965, respectively. It was adapted for television in 1964.
In the mid-1960s, Zachary Ball and his son founded Joe Panther Enterprises, a non-profit mail order business supplying audio recordings of Ball's lively renderings of his stories to foster good reading habits in young children. The company was based in Miami, Florida, Ball's home for several years. Seeking a drier climate, he and his wife moved to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1971. A Zachary Ball Children's Book Collection Room was dedicated at the Central Missouri State University Library in Warrensburg, Missouri, in April 1978. Ball died in 1987.
Fourth Book of Junior Authors & Illustrators, ed. Doris de Montreville and Elizabeth D. Crawford (New York: H. W. Wilson, 1978), 26-28.
Something About the Author, ed. Anne Commire (Detroit: Gale Research, 1972), 3:118-119.
Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series, ed. Deborah A. Straub (Detroit: Gale Research, 1988), 24:251.
1.50 Cubic Feet (4 boxes)
Language of Materials
The Zachary Ball Papers contain literary papers, publications, correspondence, photographs, audio recordings, and business records created and accumulated by Zachary Ball and his son, Kelly Ray Masters Jr., between 1944 and 1983. Ball's papers were created primarily from his composition of nineteen published and unpublished works and the operation of his audio recording sales firm, Joe Panther Enterprises. Ball is noted for his adventure stories for boys, especially his series featuring Joe Panther, a young Seminole in south Florida.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries by Zachary Ball and Kelly Ray Masters Jr. between 1966 and 1991.
- Zachary Ball Papers
- In Progress
- Hans Rasmussen
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
- This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository
118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001