Scope and arrangement
The papers of George Haven Putnam (1887-1930, bulk dates 1913-1930) are comprised for the most part of correspondence relating to his efforts at establishing and improving Copyright Legislation in the United Stated. This correspondence was directed to, or emanated from the two organizations that Putmam headed- the American Publishers Copyright League, or the National Association of Book Publishers but to a remarkable extent the correspondence of the two organizations was identical. The rest of the papers consist of 3 Minute Books: 1894-1897; 1887-1889, 1894-1910; 1914-1910, and clippings relating to copyright- both in the United States, and Canada and Europe, and reprints of the many government publications, hearing and legislation on the subject of copyright. There is also a small amount of material relating to Putnam's involvement with the Allies Bazaar, a largely honorific committee dedicated to the raising of monies for the French and British War efforts of 1916. Finally there are the correspondence and clippings revolving around the publication and distribution of presentation copies of Putnam's book The Censorship of the church of Rome (2 Volumes, 1906-1907) two volumes dealing with the questions of an earlier era on the rights of authors, publishers and readers.
The correspondence itself breaks down into several series. There is the official correspondence of the organizations themselves to their members, the many publishers and their representatives. The membership included among others D. Appleton, and Co., The Atlantic Monthly Press, Bobbs Merrill, R. H. Bowker Co., Brentano's, The' Century Co., E. P. Dutton, Harper and Bros., Henry Holt and co., Little Brown and co., The Macmillan Co. and Charles Scribners' Sons. In addition to this formal correspondence concerning dues, meetings, etc., there is also the wore informal communication between Putnam as copyright expert and many of his peers in the field of publishing on the subject of the various bills before Congress, as well as individual copyright infringements. These correspondents include R. R. Bowker, Henry Holt, Joseph Harper, Frederick Stokes, William Morrow, and Charles Scribner. There is also a substantial body of letters to and from Thorvald Solberg, register of Patents and Copyright at the Library of Congress, who at various times was considered an ally or an enemy, depending on his support of the particular bill under consideration in the House or Senate. Finally, there are the requests from many sources for Putnam's interpretation of particular copyright issues.
The Putnam papers provide very good access to the copyright concerns of the publishers and not incidentally to those of the librarians, authors and typesetters unions- that is, a broad constituency of the American book world. These papers represent a documentation not just of the specific legislation, but also of the nature of the discussion of the issues of intellectual' and economic property, and the relationship of labor business, artists and government to these questions.
The George Haven Putnam papers are arranged in two series: