Scope and arrangement
The Arthur Gelb papers consist of Gelb's office files from his tenure as New York Times assistant managing editor (1976-1977), deputy managing editor (1977-1986), and managing editor (1986-1989). These papers deal with all manner of news department issues, including staffing, reporter assignments, story development, editorial feedback on news coverage, content layout, and the creation and redesign of various columns and entire sections of the paper. The few items from before 1976 include photographs of Gelb in the 1960s, biographical write-ups of Gelb from as early as 1949, and a file on the operations and production of the New Jersey edition and weekly section.
The collection is divided into two series: I. People and II. Subjects. The People files consist of records pertaining to individuals, while the Subjects files contain items on specific topics, institutions, geographic locations, and many of the paper's departments, sections, and columns. Items germane to two or more people or subjects are often cross-referenced in the finding aid; documents related to specific issues are generally located in subject files rather than the people folders of those involved.
The strength of the collection is in newsroom discussions among Gelb and lower-level managers, such as James L. Greenfield, William H. Honan, John D. Pomfret, Allan M. Siegal, and Seymour Topping. These communications concern general reporting issues, as well as the operations of the various departments, such as Cultural News, Education News, Metropolitan News, National News, and the Washington Bureau. Gelb's contributions to launching new daily sections (Sports Monday, Science Times, Living, Home, and Weekend) in the late 1970s are particularly well documented, as well as his role in establishing and revamping columns, such as "Auctions," "Eating Well," and "Hers." Also present are discussions surrounding the Sunday Magazine Part II for special issues on Business, Home Entertaining, Electronics, and spotlights on New York City.
Most of Gelb's memoranda with executive editors Max Frankel, and A.M. Rosenthal, and with Publisher Arthur Ochs Sulzberger are found in those individuals' New York Times Company collections. Researchers should consult the New York Times Company records. Metropolitan Desk records, for correspondence from Gelb's tenure as metropolitan editor from 1967 to 1976.
The New York Times Company records. Arthur Gelb papers are arranged in two series:
This series is made up of files that contain items to, from, or concerning various individuals. Most people represented are staff members and others affiliated with The New York Times. Files typically consist of correspondence and memoranda documenting personnel decisions, employee assessments, staff assignments, and feedback from readers on certain stories or writers. Many files also contain brief biographical statements for New York Times employees. Additionally, a few files concern prominent individuals and contain correspondence between them and Gelb.
The most substantial file is for Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, which primarily contains readers' mail answered by Gelb on behalf of Sulzberger, along with suggestions, criticism, and inquiries from the publisher about news articles. Also present are files for executive editors A.M. Rosenthal and Max Frankel that consist of notes from the senior editors reflecting random thoughts about various aspects of the news department. However, most of the collection's correspondence among Gelb, Frankel, Rosenthal, and Sulzberger is located in the appropriate Subject series files.
Files are arranged alphabetically by name. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files. These files do not necessarily collect every letter, memorandum, or document related to the individual; subject files should also be consulted.
This series is made up of alphabetical subject files that are organized (and titled) by topical keywords, institution names, and Times departments and newspaper sections. Files contain memoranda between various departments and cover a range of topics, including staff assignments, department assessments, department budgets, fact-checking and other coverage complaints from story subjects and readers, and space and page make-up decisions. Present here are memoranda about launching several new sections, starting with the weekend section in 1976, and followed by Sports Monday, Science Times, Living, and Home. These files concern financial analysis and circulation prospects for the different sections, as well as the management's editorial approach to coverage, staffing problems, working conditions in the department, and general publication planning.
Of note are the files on Cultural News and Arts and Leisure. As a former drama critic, Gelb took special interest in The Times' culture coverage. These files concern the operations of the culture department, which employed the Times' critics and reporters on art, architecture, theater, music, television, restaurants, and the daily book review - not to be confused with the Sunday Book Review. The files hold memoranda between Gelb and the cultural editors, in particular Seymour Peck, William Honan, and Marvin Siegel. Included are plans to restructure the culture department and readers' mail. Also of note are the New York Times Magazine and Magazine Part II files that reveal the paper's special section development process, as well as conflicts between advertising and editorial space and decisions regarding the special use of color in the section.
Files are arranged alphabetically by file title. Entries without box and folder numbers cross-reference related material in other files.