In addition to his freelance articles for various publications like Vanity Fair and his numerous short stories, Ford also published over thirty books during his lifetime. One of these, Where the Sea Breaks its Back, was recently listed on author Brian Payton's Top Ten Books about Alaska. Here at Rauner, we have a variety of documents related to the creation of this text, including rough drafts, discarded notes and pages from early versions, and correspondence about what Ford should call the book.
Before finally settling upon Where the Sea Breaks its Back, Ford struggled to find a title for his story about the discovery of Alaska, based upon the diaries of a German doctor named Georg Wilhelm Steller. He came up with a short list of possible names himself, as seen here, and also solicited the advice of numerous people associated with Alaska, including his friend and Field & Stream editor Frank Dufresne, Alaskan Senator Ernest Gruening, and Alaskan Historical Museum curator E. L. Keithahn. The latter apparently provides the answer that Ford was searching for: less than a year later he is no longer referring to the text as "the Steller book," but instead by its published title, clearly drawn from Keithahn's reply.
Rauner holds the Corey Ford papers as well as the Stefansson Collection on Polar Exploration, which Ford relied upon when drafting Where the Sea Breaks its Back. To see the materials related to the creation of the novel, ask for ML-30, Box 14. To explore the Stefansson collection, visit our Finding Aids search page and use the keyword "Stefansson."