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Cross Creek Trial (Cason vs. Baskin) Papers

Identifier: MS Group 033

Scope and Content

Correspondence and legal documents relating to the suit of Zelma Cason vs. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and her husband Norton Baskin for libel and invasion of privacy. The bulk of the papers are from the files of the Baskins' attorney Phil May, including his correspondence with Rawlings and other correspondence concerning the case; preparatory material; court briefs and judgments; a trial transcript; and clippings regarding the trial, the book, and its author. Among the letters are those received by Rawlings from readers of the book. Additional records from the Alachua County Circuit Court include a transcript, notes of the presiding judge, and the copy of Cross Creek which was entered as evidence.


  • Creation: 1938-1949



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1942 Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings published Cross Creek, her autobiographical account of life in rural Florida. The book featured many of her neighbors and friends, including her longtime maid, Idella Parker, her friend Zelma Cason, her tenants the Mickens family, and her nearby neighbors the Bass and Glisson families. In 1943, Rawlings was surprised when Zelma Cason sued her for libel and invasion of privacy for the manner in which the author had portrayed Cason in Cross Creek. Although Rawlings won the initial case, the trial went to appeal and she was ordered to pay Cason $1 in damages. The case proved to be a great distraction, and it greatly soured Rawlings towards Cross Creek and the region. Rawlings and her husband Norton Baskin were represented by attorney Philip Stockton May of Jacksonville.

An account of the trial may be found in Patricia Nassif Acton's Invasion of Privacy: The Cross Creek Trial of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1988).


3.33 Linear feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials



Correspondence, legal papers, and other materials pertaining to the trial of Cason vs. Baskin (the Cross Creek Trial) involving author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

Additional material may be found in the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers.

Separated Material

Letters from Max E. Perkins, Sept. - Dec. 1941, were removed from these papers and placed in the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers.

A Guide to the Cross Creek Trial (Cason vs. Baskin) Papers
Finding aid created by Dept. Staff
June 2008
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America