Scope and arrangement
The papers of Ronald Sanders (1951-1994; 22.5 lin. ft.) include correspondence; manuscript and typescript drafts of books, articles, and stories; notes and research materials for the same; newspaper and magazine clippings; memorabilia; artwork; sheet music; postcards; photographic prints and negatives; scrapbooks; and audiocassettes. Sanders' topics of interest were mainly historical and political. Socialism captured his attention as a young man, and was his focus throughout his formal education, including his doctoral dissertation subject. Later on, history, particularly Jewish history and culture, became his central focus.
The Sanders Papers are a good example of a collection which documents the entire scope of one author's body of work. While the bulk of the materials are drafts and research notes for Sanders' mature, full length works (Boxes 6-40), there is significant documentation of stories and essays from his younger years. The collection includes many of his undergraduate class papers from English, Poetry, and History classes, as well as Philosophy and Political Science. Versions of the essay which he developed into his Masters' thesis, and the thesis itself, are also included (Box 41, folders 1 and 24 and Box 47, folders 3, 4, and 12). The collection has many of the book reviews and miscellaneous pieces he wrote throughout the years (Boxes 41-43), as well as drafts of many of the lectures that capped his career (Box 49 and 50).
His work at Midstream is well documented with examples of articles he wrote for that publication (Box 5). Of note in the series is correspondence between Sanders and Editor Shlomo Katz,including the dispute that led to Sanders' departure from the magazine. (Additional correspondence with Katz is found in the "Individual Correspondence" series, Box 1.) Several unpublished works, some incomplete, are also in the collection, including several chapters and notes from a murder mystery from his mature years (Boxes 45-46), one of just a few pieces of fiction by Sanders.
For researchers curious about Sanders' personal life, the collection documents his non-literary pursuits as far back as high school. Series V, "Personal and Other Items" (Boxes 51-53) documents Sanders early interest in drawing and painting (Box 51, folder 4, Box 52, folder 8, and Box 53, 3 paintings). This series also includes materials and memorabilia from his year in France and his trips to the Soviet Union and Israel (Box 51, folder 11-12 and Box 52, folder 4). Letters from his parents (Box 2) shed light on his youth. The materials from individual correspondents of note (Box 1) include letters from long-term friends Bill Goldhurst and Uriel Tal as well as other literary friends and contacts.
Sanders' memoir, Reflections on a Teapot, (Box 8-11) provides a first hand account of his childhood in Brooklyn and particularly the time he spent in the Army. There is very little else about his Army experience in this collection, outside of these chapters, a play program, and a review of theatrical productions in which Sanders had a part during his time in the Army (Box 51, folder 5 and Box 52, folder 10.)
The Ronald Sanders papers are arranged in six series:
- 1953 - 1994Boxes 1-4
The correspondence series is made up of two sub-series, Individuals (A-Z), and Personal/Professional. The Individuals sub-series includes correspondence with literary friends or figures of note, such as Elie Wiesel,Shlomo Katz,and Isaac Bashevis Singer,or correspondence of a significant amount. These are arranged alphabetically by last name. The Personal/Professional sub-series is arranged chronologically. The Personal folders include correspondence from family and friends with subject matter dealing with life's everyday events. The earliest letters in the collection are from Sanders' parents. The Professional folders include materials from business associates and deals mostly with publishing matters. Additional correspondence from the following notables is found in: I.B. Singer,Box 36, folders 10-11; Maurice Abravanel, Box 19, folder 3; and Lotte Lenya,Box 19, folder 2. The sub-series dates extend past Sanders' death in 1991 because it includes some correspondence to Beverly Sanders through 1994.
- 1962 - 1973Box 5
This series consists of correspondence and articles, both those written by Sanders and those items which he may have received as the publication's editor. Of note is Box 5, folder 6, which contains correspondence between Sanders and Shlomo Katz,representing the magazine's Board of Trustees, arguing over the publication's philosophical leanings and Sanders' editorial powers. Notes for Sanders' articles on György Lukács and Simon Wiesenthal's book, Justice not Vengeance are found in Box 48, folders 4 and 5.
- 1951 - 1991Boxes 6 - 48
The largest and most significant series in this collection, this series is divided into seven sub-series. The Books sub-series (Boxes 6-40) includes drafts and research notes on almost all of Sanders' eight major works on Jewish history. No drafts of his first work, Socialist Thought. A Documentary History,are included, only a dust jacket. Some of the Book sub-series files included research materials such as small spiral notebooks of handwritten notes, and photocopies of documents and articles that Sanders studied as he worked. (Some are in foreign languages, e.g.: French.) Usually these materials are arranged with their respective titles. However, the materials in Boxes 38-40 contain unidentified research notebooks. Readers interested in materials for the book, Shores of Refuge...,and an unpublished fictional work, The Bowery Gardens,should review Box 40 as well.
All of his full-length books were concerned, in some way, with Jewish history as a subject. Two of them, Israel: a View from Masada, and Reflections on a Teapot,are taken from Sanders' personal experiences. He examines the influences and events behind the Zionist movement in Britain and the founding of the State of Israel in the High Walls of Jerusalem... He discusses Jewish immigrant life in the East Side of New York in The Downtown Jews,and Jewish emigration over the a century in Shores of Refuge. A comparison between Jewish and African, and to some extent, Native American immigration is discussed in Lost Tribes and Promised Lands. His later books are biographies of prominent individuals, Kurt Weill and Isaac Bashevis Singer, though the latter was not published as a full-length book.
Sanders created scrapbooks to chronicle several of his major works. They generally include a dust jacket, reviews of the book, significant correspondence about the book between the publisher and the author and congratulatory notes from friends and relatives. Two of these scrapbooks have been keep as they were created. For preservation reasons, the others were disassembled and the materials were placed in folders.
The sub-series, Essays, Articles, and Stories, (Boxes 41-42) includes some articles that were expanded into longer pieces or book chapters. Several are labeled "early writings," which is the term that appeared on label from the original envelope. Proposals (Box 44) contains the project descriptions Sanders wrote for his full-length books to present to publishers or major grant funding organizations, for monies to continue research. Unpublished Works include two full-length books and several short stories, all of which were labeled as unpublished works on their original folders.
Sander's College Papers are arranged by class subject, if the class for which it was written was indicated on the cover or the container; if not, it was put in alphabetical order by title. Of note is the 1952 script for a musical drama for television, They're Playing Our Song, written by the Sanders father and son duo (Box 47, folder 26), and some research notes on Sanders' proposed Ph.D. dissertation subject, Jean Jaurès, (Box 47, folder 25).
The Miscellaneous Items sub-series includes several notable items: a 1970 speech Sanders penned for Senator Eugene McCarthyon US-Israeli relations, a poem written by Sanders and wife Beverly, transcripts of several radio interviews with Sanders after various book publications, and some translations of short stories and poetry.
- 1964 - 1989Boxes 49 - 50
Most of the teaching materials in this series include class syllabi, lecture notes, correspondence and student notes to Sanders, test questions, and one class proposal. The series includes some student test papers, which are in "Restricted Materials" (Box 54). The lecture materials contain notes for lectures, the lectures themselves, or, in the case of The American Jewish Congress Travel Program, the flyer describing the lectures being offered, including one by Sanders.
- 1932 - 1991Boxes 51 - 54
This series includes some very interesting items that tell a little more about man rather than about his writing. As a young man Sanders enjoyed acting and drawing in addition to writing. This series includes both a clipping of a review of The Crucible from 1955-56 (Box 51, folder 5) and a program from a 1955-56 production of On the Town, (Box 52, folder 11), two of Sanders' acting experiences during his Army years.
His artistic proclivities are documented in several places. The cover illustration of the sheet music of The Clock Song, written by George H. Sanders, is by son Ronald (Box 51, folder 4). A copy of his high school literary magazine includes an illustration by him (Box 52, folder 9). Box 53 contains three of his drawing and paintings. Items from his travels include excavation tokens from his archeological work at Masada (Box 52, folder 5), and travel documents and items from the France and the USSR from his Fulbright year, including some postcards of notable places in 1960s Moscow and a map of the city (Box 52, folders13-15).
- 1972 - 199015 Cassettes
Sanders used these cassettes to capture his interviews with people who had met or worked with writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. Many of the interviews involve four or more persons (for example, Ronald and Beverly Sanders, Isaac and Alma Singer, others in background), some of whom were uninvolved in the actual interview, but conversed among themselves, making the interviews somewhat difficult to hear. At the time of the interviews Singer was in poor health; wife Alma provided most of the information.