Scope and arrangement
The New Yorker Records (ca. 1924-1984) consist of the correspondence, interoffice memoranda, edited and corrected manuscripts and typescripts, drawings, posters, statistical reports, lists of story and art ideas and assignments, photographs, and sound recordings generated during the foundation and day-to-day operations of the magazine's editorial departments. The records document the decisions made in producing each issue of the magazine, as well as the careers of its staff and many of the important twentieth-century writers and artists who regularly contributed to the New Yorker.
The general files of Harold Ross (1917, 1924-1957), the magazine's founder and editor until 1951, contain mostly memoranda and correspondence which document Ross's role in shaping each issue of the magazine and its overall identity. His personal papers provide insight into Ross's life and the cultural milieu in which the New Yorker was born and thrived. The collection contains only a few of William Shawn's files, but his role as editor is evident throughout the collection.
Interoffice memoranda are represented in almost every part of the collection and include critical commentary on particular issues or pieces in the magazine, editor's queries, reports on authors' and artists' contractual status, approval or disapproval of advertisers or particular ads, editors' story suggestions, writers' story reservations, and discussions of legal and administrative issues. The memos reveal the meticulous detail with which every aspect of the magazine was addressed.
Editorial correspondence (1928-1980) is an extensive archive of correspondence between New Yorker editors and writers, artists, agents, publishers, organizations, and other New Yorker editors and staff, and so documents the editors' roles in shaping the content—from journalistic pieces and fiction, to art and advertising—of each issue. The exchanges between editors and writers document the crafting of particular pieces; because many of these writers' stories and articles first appeared in the New Yorker, the magazine's editorial process greatly informed the final versions of their work. The correspondence of writers associated with the New Yorker traces their history with the magazine and its editors, as well as the trajectories of their careers.
Manuscripts in the collection are of two types. "Run & Killed" manuscripts are often edited drafts of mostly non-fiction pieces. Writer's works were passed among several editors for comments, and if approved, manuscripts were circulated among editors for suggestions and for revisions. These comment memos often accompany the manuscripts in the "Run & Killed" series. "Copy & Source" files contain typescripts of all the copy in each issue of the magazine from 1951-1981 (see Provenance Note). Because of the rigorous editing and fact-checking processes at the New Yorker, most manuscripts/typescripts are heavily revised and corrected and are often accompanied by memos, queries, or correspondence between author and editor.
In Editorial Business files (1926-1984) letters to the editor (never published in the magazine until 1992), the staff's answers to these letters, and reprints and permissions requests illustrate the impact and popularity of the magazine's articles, stories, and cartoons; log books, lists, and files of ideas for articles and art document methods by which the magazine generated editorial content and how writers chose assignments. Other administrative records include accounts of contributor payments and staff salaries, memoranda concerning contractual status of artists and writers, and correspondence related to legal matters. The legal and financial files contain material relating to suits and counter-suits, contracts with authors and artists, and additional information regarding staff and contributor payments.
Artwork is spread throughout the collection mostly in the form of tearsheets. The "Non-Textual Materials" series consists of original drawings and photographs removed from other parts of the collection; original spot drawings; tearsheets of published cartoons and accompanying editors' comments, notes, and memoranda; and Harold Ross's recorded dictation. There are some original drawings in "Magazine Make-Up: Copy and Source."
Keyword searching the container list, though a fine place to start, will no necessarily led you to all the material by or relating to an author., it is still the best place to start. The following suggestions point out other ways to find manuscripts and correspondence of a particular author. For a full description of the material contained in the series mentioned below please consult the Series Descriptions.
Manuscripts in the "Manuscripts: Run & Killed" series are indexed, those in "Magazine Make-Up: Copy and Source" are not. To find manuscripts in "Magazine Make-Up: Copy & Source" it is necessary to know the dates of the issues in which an author's works were run. A good source for this is An Index to Literature in The New Yorker (available on reference shelves in reading room).
Almost all letters by a particular author will be filed under his or her name, and thus can be traced by the index. Carbons of letters from his or her New Yorker editor(s) usually accompany the author's letters. However, there may be additional correspondence regarding an author's work (between editors) or contractual status (between editors or agents and the magazine's business departments); to find this material it is important to know the name(s) of the author's editor(s) and agent(s). A partial guide to some major authors' agents is available in the Manuscripts and Archives Division reading room.
Writers' works were passed among several editors for comments, and if approved, manuscripts were circulated among editors for suggestions and for revisions. These comment memos sometimes accompany the manuscripts in the "Manuscripts: Run & Killed" and "Magazine Make-Up: Copy & Source" series. Some manuscripts are accompanied by correspondence between author and editor(s).
"Minor" and "Non-New Yorker" Authors
An effort was made to give notable individuals and persons closely associated with The New Yorker their own folders within each series and within each alphabetic sequence within those series. Other figures' material was filed within folders covering an alphabetic range. Since the index is an index of the inventory (i.e. the folder headings) these names do not appear in the index.
RESEARCHING EDITORS AND STAFF
Material produced by and relating to the magazine's staff is scattered throughout the collection. In the cases of Katharine White and William Shawn, there is more material by and relating to them throughout the collection than in the sub-series bearing their names. The index is helpful, but will not cover all the places where material such as letters, memos, announcements, comments, queries, and story suggestions may be found. In some instances it may be impossible, or not entirely useful, to try to track down all the material relating to a given staff member. Here, however, are some places to look:
Harold Ross (series 1.1): Under the headings "Editorial," and "Interoffice Memos."
William Shawn (series 1.3): Under the heading "Editors, Interoffice Communications."
Editorial Correspondence (series 3): Under heading "Interoffice memos," and names of writers and other editors with whom they worked.
Manuscripts: Run & Killed (series 6): Memos and notes from editors to writers and other editors often accompany manuscripts; these are found by names of authors with whom the editor worked. However, because pieces were often passed to several editors, editors' comments and queries often accompany manuscripts of authors with whom they did not usually work. Unsigned pieces written by staff are filed under department name (i.e. "Talk of the Town").
Magazine Make-Up: Copy & Source (series 7): Same as "Manuscripts: Run & Killed" except that manuscripts are found by date of publication. Typescripts of staff pieces appearing unsigned in the magazine are here attributed. The verso of each typescript's first page bears a slip identifying initials of a piece's primary editor.
Ideas & Assignments (series 4.5): Browsing this series, one may find ideas submitted by specific staff members. Editors often signed memos and other correspondence with initials or were referred to by these initials. The following partial list may aid the reader to match initials with staff members. Some names are followed by dates (or starting date), and duties or departments served.
- Bernard Bergman: 1931-
- James M. Cain
- Robert Coates: 1931-, art page editor
- Clifton Fadiman: 1933-1943, book reviewer
- Wolcott Gibbs: 1927, copy editor in Fiction, drama editor
- Robert Henderson
- Gus Lobrano: Fiction editor
- Ralph McAllister Ingersoll: 1925-1930
- St. Clair McKelway: 1920s-1936 reporter, 1936-1939 Fact editor
- Rachel MacKenzie
- William Maxwell
- John Chapin Mosher: 1928-
- Howard Moss: Poetry editor
- Ogden Nash
- Arthur H. Samuels: 1927-1931
- James Thurber: 1927, editor, 1927-1935 Talk of the Town, 1930- drawings
- Sanderson Vanderbilt
- E. B. White: 1926, staff writer, Newsbreaks, Notes and Comments, Talk of the Town
- Katharine Sergeant (Angell) White: 1925- Editor, Fiction Editor, contributor
- Edmund Wilson: 1944-
- Alexander Woollcott: 1929- Shouts and Murmurs, Profiles
The New Yorker records are arranged in nine series:
- 1917-1984129 boxes
This series contains the files of the first two editors-in-chief (titled, simply, "Editors") of the New Yorker. Harold Ross's personal and professional papers make up the bulk of the series. The collection contains only a few of William Shawn's files but his role as editor is evident throughout the collection.
The Editor series is arranged in three subseries: 1.1 Harold Ross / General Files 1.2 Harold Ross / Personal / Financial Records 1.3 William Shawn
- 1939-19735 boxes
This series contains some of the records of three individuals who were staff writers and editors: St. Clair McKelway, Lillian Ross, and Katharine White, arranged as three separate subseries. In all three cases, this material comprises only a portion of that generated by each individual, whose works are also present throughout the collection.
- 1928-1980810 boxes
Until 1951, all correspondence concerning Fact, Fiction, Poetry, or Art (with a five year exception, 1929-1933) were kept together by year. Beginning in 1952, files for Fact and Fiction (including poetry) were kept separately. Therefore the Editorial correspondence is arranged in the following four subseries:
3.1: General Correspondence, 1928-1951, 162 linear ft., Boxes 135-516 3.2: Fact Correspondence, 1952-1981, 78 linear ft., Boxes 517-709 3.3: Fiction Correspondence, 1952-1980, 18 linear ft., Boxes, 710-931 3.4: Art Correspondence, 1929-1933, 5 linear ft., Boxes 932-944
This series is an extensive archive of correspondence between New Yorker editors and writers, artists, agents, publishers, organizations, and other New Yorker editors and staff. Other material in this series includes lists of potential articles, contributors, and art ideas and story "Reservations," which were internal memos reserving or "unreserving" certain subjects for particular writers (see also "Harold Ross" [series 1.1], "Louis Forster" [series 4.1), and "Ideas and Assignments" [series 4.5].) All of the material in this series illuminates the editors' roles in shaping the editorial content (including art and ads) of each issue of the magazine, the everyday operations of the magazine, the magazine's working relationship with other organizations, and the careers of the magazine's editors and staff. The editor/author correspondence documents the development of particular pieces, writer/editor relationships, and important periods in the careers of many major twentieth century authors.
Notable writers with large files of correspondence in this series include Donald Barthelme, Elizabeth Bishop, James Dickey, Nadine Gordimer, H.L Mencken, W.S. Merwin, Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, John O'Hara, Anne Sexton, Robert Penn Warren, Edmund Wilson, John Cheever, Janet Flanner, Lewis Mumford, J.D. Salinger, Frank Sullivan, James Thurber, and John Updike. Substantial correspondence files exist for such artists as Charles Addams, Constantin Alajalov, Peter Arno, Ludwig Bemelmans, A. Birnbaum, Alan Dunn, Alfred Frueh, Helen Hokinson, Charles Saxon, Barbara Shermund, James Stevenson, and Gluyas Williams.
Carbon copies of letters from editor to author accompany original letters in virtually every file. These are often long and detailed reactions to, and critiques of, authors' submissions, often in the form of lists of queries and suggestions for revisions. For authors closely associated with the magazine and with a particular editor, editorial exchanges often developed into personal correspondence, and professional relationships into friendships. While an editor's letters to an author (and his or her agent) are usually found under that author's name, this series also includes editor and staff member files, usually containing interoffice memos, correspondence regarding their own work as contributors and their professional lives, and communications with organizations and publishers.
This series also contains voluminous files for literary agents and agencies which contain mostly letters of submission from the agent and editors' replies. Most of the replies are rejections which include criticism of the particular work or the author's output in general. Some are accompanied by reader's reports or memos between editors discussing the suitability of a given submission. Other correspondence in the folders discusses business matters such as terms of contracts and payment. (Two appendices to this inventory contain lists of prominent agents and agencies.) NOTE: Other author/editor correspondence may accompany manuscripts in either "Magazine Make-Up: Copy and Source" or "Manuscripts: Run & Killed."
- 1926-1984341 boxes
The Editorial Business files are arranged in ten subseries: Administrative Files: 4.1 Louis Forster 4.2 Harding T. Mason 4.3 Ik Shuman 4.4 General Files 4.5 Ideas & Assignments 4.6 Letters to the Editor 4.7 Log Books of Article Assignments (3) 4.8 News Clippings 4.9 Reprints and Permissions 4.10 Style Sheet: Word List, November 8, 1977
- 1943-198362 boxes
Milton Greenstein, editorial counsel to The New Yorker, also served as an intermediary between the editorial and business sides of the magazine; he later became Vice-President of the firm. Hawley Truax was the Treasurer of the magazine and later became Chairman of the board. Their files were merged in the late 1940s.
Greenstein's and Truax's records document their handling of a variety of business and legal matters: their files contain contracts with authors and artists, such as fiction and art agreements with "First Reading" clauses that gave the magazine first right to reject or accept any work by that individual; accounts of payments (including royalties and "drawing account" payments given to writers with work in progress), salaries, cost-of-living adjustments, and staff benefits; income tax returns prepared for New Yorker staff and contributors; correspondence regarding author and artist rights, deceased contributors, reprints and permissions, legal matters, such as libel suits and trademark and copyright disputes, and "Reader's Complaints"; and reports on advertising, circulation, production, and printing.
- 1926-1984331 boxes
This series consists of original manuscripts, typescripts, and "retypes" (transcriptions made by the New Yorker's typing pool for editing purposes) of both published ("Run") and unpublished ("Killed") Fact, Fiction, Poetry, and shorter pieces, usually edited, revised by editor(s) and/or author, and sometimes accompanied by related correspondence and memos. Since rejected manuscripts were generally returned to their authors, most manuscripts in the archive were run. These manuscripts served as the working drafts of the editors and authors, and in some cases pieces are represented by three or four successive drafts.
Manuscripts in this series include a 260-page extensively corrected typescript of Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" (Box 1437) published in five parts in 1963, and the typescript of Jonathan Schell's "The Village of Ben Suc" (Box 1517), an article published in 1967 that described the destruction of a Vietnamese village by American soldiers and which marked the beginning of the New Yorker's more politically engaged content throughout the Vietnam conflict.
The New Yorker often bought and edited manuscripts, then held on to them for as long as 20 years before publishing, killing, reediting, or returning them. In this series each piece can be found in the year, or range of years, during which it was run or killed, and under the author's name. Unsigned work, such as "Talk of the Town" pieces, can be found under their New Yorker department headings.
The manuscripts are arranged in fifteen subseries: 6.1: Fact & Fiction: Run & Killed 1926-1927 6.2: Fact: Run & Killed 1938-1958 6.3: " 1959-1966 6.4: " 1967-1969 6.5: " 1970-1973 6.6: " 1974-1976 6.7: " 1977-1984 6.8: Fact: Lists of Killed Mss. 1943-1980 6.9: Fiction: Run & Killed 1951-1982 6.10: Fiction: Killed, Lists Only 1944-1982 6.11: Plays: Run & Killed 1952-1976 6.12: Verse: Run & Killed 1951-1973 6.13: Very Short Pieces: Run &Killed 1951-1980 6.14: Very Short Pieces: Killed, Lists 1952-1980 6.15: Miscellaneous Manuscripts n.d.
- 1944-19807 boxes
This series consists of drafts and tearsheets of published ("Run") and unpublished ("Killed") cover, cartoon, and spot art. It also includes memos from editors regarding specific pieces of art, memos accepting or rejecting cartoon ideas, and lists of killed art works.
This series is arranged in two subseries: 7.1: Art Works: Run & Killed 1951-1980 7.2: Art Works: Killed, Lists Only 1944-1980
- 1950-1981740 boxes
This series contains the edited copy and art which made up each issue of the magazine. It is arranged chronologically by issue. Each issue's Copy is followed by a folder of Source material made up of clippings, press releases, photographs, brochures, and various "leads" in the form of letters from readers and staff, all of which served as background materials for "Talk of the Town" assignments and "Profiles," or as potential Newsbreaks (short pieces, used to fill the end of a column, consisting of unintentionally humorous items, primarily from American newspapers). While many original drawings are filed in "Non-Textual Materials" (series 9) or were returned to artists by the magazine, some are still located in this series. Many of the cartoons in this series are ideas proposed by outsiders or the magazine's "idea men" that were later redrawn by the more famous artists for publication.
Most of the Copy is comprised of "retypes," but some original manuscripts, proof pages, and photocopies of originals are in the series; on the verso of the first page of each piece is a slip indicating who edited the piece. Besides proof-readers' and fact-checkers' marks, many manuscripts are substantially revised and corrected by editors and, in some cases, authors. Some manuscripts include letters between author and editor, and interoffice memos between New Yorker editors discussing the piece. A good example of the latter is the manuscript of Nadine Gordimer's "Out of Season" (Box 1781) which is extensively edited by Katharine S. White and is accompanied by memos between White, William Shawn, and Gus Lobrano.
Other notable manuscripts in "Copy and Source" include those for Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" (Box 2005-2006); Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" with significant revisions and deletions by Shawn (Box 2070-2072); James Baldwin's "Letter from a Region in My Mind" (published in book form as "The Fire Next Time", Box 1999); many of Janet Flanner's "Letters from…", including several in original telegram; and formidable amounts of material by S. J. Perelman, Robert Graves, Vladamir Nabokov, John Cheever, J. D. Salinger, Elizabeth Bishop, Jean Stafford and John Updike, writers often associated with the New Yorker.
- 1917-1984141 boxes
This series is arranged into eight subseries: 9.1 Cartoons, Published, Tearsheets 9.2 Drawings, Original Spots 9.3 Drawings, Original. Removed from Copy and Source, 1950-1961 9.4 Drawings, Original, Removed from Various Departments 9.5 Miscellaneous, Oversize, Mainly Printed Materials 9.6 Engraved Plates 9.7 Photographs 9.8 Sound Recordings