Scope and arrangement
The Truman Capote Papers (ca.1924-1992) consist of holograph manuscripts and typescripts of the author's published and unpublished work, notes and other material related to the works, Capote's high school writings, correspondence, photographs, artwork, personal miscellany, printed material, and scrapbooks.
Holograph and typescript drafts comprise the bulk of the collection, arranged alphabetically by title. Notes, clippings, and other related material (i.e. corrected galleys, dramatic adaptations written by others, notes from editors) may accompany the manuscript. The bulk of the correspondence is made up of letters and postcards, 1947-1972, from Capote to his friend Andrew Lyndon, and letters, 1961-1978, from Capote to Alvin and Marie Dewey. Alvin Dewey, of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, was the principal investigator in the murder of the Clutter family. Another large group of letters, 1947-1949, are from Capote's lover and mentor, Newton Arvin. A small group of additional correspondence includes letters from Jack Dunphy, Leo Lerman, Donald Windham, John O'Shea, Joseph Fox (editor at Random House), Irving Lazar, and Alan Schwartz. There are also letters from Capote family members. Printed matter includes published newspaper and magazine articles by and about Capote and about the Clutter case as well. Photographs are for the most part of Capote, his family and the Deweys, as well as other friends. There are six Polaroid pictures taken by Andy Warhol. One scrapbook, compiled by Marie Dewey, documents the production of the movie In Cold Blood, and includes clippings, memorabilia, and photographs. Artworks include a painting of Capote by E. Fossburgh, several sketches of Capote, posters, prints, and an oil painting of a Studio 54 ticket by Andy Warhol.
The Truman Capote papers are arranged in nine series:
- 1943-1984, undated
This series contains material related to most of Capote's writings in the form of notebooks, holograph drafts, typescripts, corrected and edited galley proofs, and printed matter. Some titles are accompanied by related material such as clippings, correspondence, research notes, and adaptations of the work for film and stage. The five boxes of material related to In Cold Blood form an important part of the collection, reflecting Capote's five years of research and involvement in the Clutter murder case. The research material includes notes, clippings, interviews, and legal papers gathered by Capote. Files labeled "typescript notes" (see Box 7, f. 11-14) were probably compiled by the writer Harper Lee, a childhood friend of Capote's who assisted him in his Kansas research. Various versions of the manuscript include those with revisions by Capote himself and also those revised by Joseph Fox, Capote's editor at Random House. Clippings document the story of the murders, the investigation, arrest, trial, and execution. Two scrapbooks collected by Alvin Dewey (see: Series VII: Printed Matter and Scrapbooks, Box 28-29) document the case and the book's publication.
- 1935-1943, undated
Capote's high school writings include short stories and poems in manuscripts and printed form. This series also includes pre-high school juvenilia.
- 1938-1992, undated
Capote's correspondence is divided into two subseries: Letters by Capote, and Letters by others, which is made up of letters to Capote and correspondence between other figures in Capote's life.
- circa 1924-1972
This series (circa 1924-1972) contains the earliest material in the collection. Photographs include snapshots and portraits of Capote, his family, and friends. Photographs of Capote's family include pictures of his parents, more distant relatives and Capote as an infant and child. Photographs from the Dewey family represent their friendship with Capote and include photographs sent by Capote in his correspondence to them. A set of mostly oversized publicity photographs of Capote, Alvin Dewey, John Forsythe and others document the filming of In Cold Blood. There is a set of photographs of Capote, Jack Dunphy and others in Italy, taken at the start of Capote's writing career. A series of six Polaroids by Andy Warhol (one dated 1972) are probably the most recent in the collection.
- 1978, undated
The artwork includes paintings, sketches and a silkscreen print.
- 1970, undated
This series includes Capote's adoption papers; death certificate; invitations, guest lists, and menus for the Black & White Ball and other parties; financial material; Air France plane tickets for Capote and Jack Dunphy; a hotel bill of Cecil Beaton; and material, printed and in Capote's hand, relating to Capote's attempt to establish an upscale cleaning and domestic services business for his Palm Springs maid and confidant, Myrtle Bennett.
- 1959-1967, undated
This series includes loose clippings from magazines and newspapers; reprints of graphic works; three scrapbooks compiled by Alvin Dewey, two of which pertain to the Clutter case; an album compiled by Marie Dewey which documents the production of the movie In Cold Blood, and magazines which feature writings by, articles about, and interviews with Capote, including the issues of the New Yorker in which In Cold Blood first appeared.
This series includes copy-edited proofs and clean carbon and Xerox typescripts of works represented in the collection by edited versions; duplicate Xerox copies; and book galleys.
This series consists of materials related to the Black and White Ball, a party planned by Capote in the summer of 1966 in honor of his friend Katherine Graham, owner of the Washington Post. The masked ball, which was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became the most talked about social event of the year. The records include the black and white standard composition book in which Capote entered the names and addresses of this guests, and later annotated with the name of the host of the dinner party that each would be invited to attend before the ball. Accompanying the composition book are a carbon typescript list of the guests made from the notebook, an alphabetized and tab-indexed list which was prepared for screening guests at the door, an invitation card annotated by Capote, an admittance card, and a file of newspaper clippings documenting the New York press coverage of the event. In addition, there is an autograph letter from Capote to Elizabeth Davies, who assisted him in arranging the party, regarding his attempts to help her find employment. Some additional materials on the Black and White Ball can be found in Box 27, folder 3.