"He was keeping a record of his work for the future," Suddeth said. "He kept it, he updated it."
For the past 30 years, researchers have had to rely on a limited print facsimile of the ledger, which didn't catch the varied inks and scripts in Fitzgerald's hand.
Park Bucker, a USC associate English professor, said he's excited to discuss the new ledger with his students.
"It may be a unique artifact among American authors," Bucker said. "This is going to be an amazing thing for students to pore over and dip into. He created his own database. We do it on computers now, but he did it for himself,"
Bucker also said students are fascinated by seeing something a well-known author penned in his own hand.
"Students always remark how much they love his handwriting," he said. "They think his handwriting is just beautiful, and handwriting isn't valued today."
Bucker pointed out that the ledger shows Fitzgerald made most of his income from short stories and that he was able to earn a living from his literary work. "It was the rarest of things, an author who made a living," Bucker said.
In 1925, the ledger shows Fitzgerald earned less than $2,000 for the "Gatsby" book — the same amount he received for a single short story published in The Saturday Evening Post.
In later years, Fitzgerald added more earnings from "The Great Gatsby." He sold the foreign motion picture rights for $16,666, as noted in the ledger. In another section, he lists about $5,000 in earnings from "Gatsby" when it ran as a play in New York, Chicago and elsewhere.
USC Professor Matthew Bruccoli began to acquire items for the Fitzgerald collection in the 1950s. He received some, including the ledger, from the author's only child, daughter Frances Scott Fitzgerald, also known as Scottie. Bruccoli wanted the collection to be used as a teaching and research tool, and he gave it to the university in 1994.
Bruccoli has since died, but the collection has continued to grow. It is now is valued at more than $4 million, Sudduth said.
The ledger online:
Susanne M. Schafer can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/susannemarieap