Rare Robert Frost Collection Acquired by Wisconsin University

Founder and primary treating doctor at Good Life Chiropractic in Campbell, California, Dr. Manfred Alkhas has been practicing for over 18 years. Outside of his professional pursuits, Dr. Manfred Alkhas enjoys indulging in creative works of short fiction and poetry. He names his favorite poet as Robert Frost, who made literary news in January 2014 after the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire received a collection of rare Frost items.

For decades, a collection of Robert Frost first editions, notebook pages, letters, and Christmas cards lay in the possession of Frederick “Fritz” Schmidt, a longtime friend of Robert Frost. Schmidt met Frost in September 1941 when the poet came to teach a seminar at the college where he was studying. The two formed a lasting friendship. When Schmidt passed away in 2005, his wife Joan Christopherson Schmidt, or “Miss Chris,” came into possession of the collection. She declined offers to sell the collection, despite its worth, in hopes of finding it a home with a school where it could be shared and cared for properly. A series of connections put Miss Chris in contact with the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Professors and faculty plan to use the collection to enhance their students’ education, and several literature and creative writing professors intend to incorporate it into their courses. In addition, the university’s English department held the Robert Frost Celebration of American Poetry event on March 26, 2014, in honor of the acquisition.

During the acquisition process, Miss Chris revealed the origins behind Robert Frost’s poem One Step Backwards Taken, through details related to her by Frost himself. Robert Frost wrote the poem for her husband, taking inspiration from his military experience, and inscribed it on the front page of Schmidt’s first edition copy of Mountain Interval. Miss Chris said the inscription was particularly meaningful to her late husband.

The collection is comprised of approximately 44 books authored by Robert Frost; books about the poet; manuscript materials with hand-written poetry; pamphlets; and Christmas cards. Frost autographed and inscribed several of the books.

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