Scope and arrangement
The Babette Deutsch Papers, 1860s-1982, contain personal and professional correspondence, copies of her published and unpublished works, research and teaching notes, photographs, and memorabilia of the poet and literary critic. The bulk of the collection documents the period of the 1920s through the 1960s when Deutsch was most active in the literary world.
The General Correspondence includes letters written to Deutsch by other poets and critics and, occasionally, her replies. The correspondents discuss primarily literary matters and often include copies of their poems. A separate series, Correspondence re Contemporary German Poetry (1923), contains letters from German and Austrian poets whose work Deutsch anthologized. Lists of prominent correspondents in each of these series con be found following the series description.
Deutsch herself is better represented in the Family Correspondence. Included here are the letters she wrote during her trip to Russia in 1923-1924 in which she comments on the new Soviet state and the various literary figures she and her husband, Avrahm Yarmolinsky, met there. Yarmolinsky, Chief of the Slavonic Division of The New York Public Library, is represented in this series by a small amount of general correspondence and numerous love letters written to Deutsch in 1920-1921.
Some of Deutsch's literary work, 1919-1981 appears in the collection in typescript, including poetry, novels, essays, and works for children, while her scrapbooks, 1917-1947, contain clippings of her book reviews. A few essays by Yarmolinsky are also present. The Photographs series contains a fine collection of portraits of Deutsch, her husband, parents, and grandparents.
The Babette Deutsch papers are arranged in ten series:
Approximately half of the correspondence is from Kenneth Slade Alling and dates from 1940-1958. Many of these letters are on the subject of poetry and literary criticism. The remainder of the correspondence includes letters chiefly from contemporary American writers -- authors, poets, critics, reviewers, and publishers, primarily between the 1920s and 1970s. Many of the letters discuss poetry and publishing, and comment on specific literary works including those of Deutsch. Their value lies in their literary commentary. The series contains over 50 of Deutsch's outgoing letters filed by the name of the recipient. The majority are written to Ben Belitt, Tram Combs, and Leon Edel. The series also includes photocopies of letters from prominent American writers to Deutsch which were sold to the Phoenix Book Shop.
The series includes letters written by Deutsch to family members and letters written by members of her family to her and to others. The few letters written by Deutsch during her adolescence reveal early attempts at verse. Most of her letters in this series are written to her mother, Melanie Fisher Deutsch, and to her young son, Adam, during her trip to Russia in 1923-1924. These letters, which include several snapshots and sketches, describe revolutionary morés in the new Soviet state, public reaction to Lenin's death, her meetings with prominent poets and other cultural figures. Two letters by Yarmolinsky, including one to Lewis Mumford, are also among the letters from Russia.
The bulk of the series is composed of Yarmolinsky's love letters to Deutsch, 1920-1921. These letters also include a few postcards of Shakers in Mt. Lebanon, New York. The letters dated "I Anno Domini" date from 1920, "II Anno Domini" from 1921, etc. His general correspondence includes social letters as well as a few letters on his work in Russian and East European studies. There are also six letters to him from André Maurois and one from Richard Wilbur. The numerous letters to Deutsch and Yarmolinsky from Melanie Fisher Deutsch, 1923-1924, concern family matters.
Most of the letters are written between 1977 and 1979 to Deutsch from American publishers. There are also copies of letters from Deutsch. The correspondence concerns permissions to reprint Deutsch's writings, payments, and royalties.
These letters were sent to Deutsch from prominent German and Austrian writers whose work she wanted to translate and anthologize. The letters discuss the poets' work, the projected anthology, and copyright matters, and include biographical sketches, clippings, and copies of poems, occasionally with Deutsch's translations. The anthology was published in 1923, although not all of the poets with whom she corresponded were included. A list of the correspondents appears at the end of the finding aid.
The series consists of poems (copies and clippings of published poems as well as those rejected for book publication), translations of poems, reviews, literary criticism, and essays written by Deutsch. The prose writings on poetry, literary criticism, fiction and religion include typed copies of "Three Powers of Poetry," and "The Hither Side of Styx." Present also are typescripts of novels and works for children, articles on Russia By Deutsch and Yarmolinsky for the Foreign Press Service, and three scrapbooks of clippings of reviews by Deutsch published in the Evening Post,Dial,Reedy's Mirror,Smart Set,Century,The New Republic,and The Nation,among others. There are also correspondence, reviews and notes on books published by Deutsch as well as notes on various readings presented on radio broadcasts or in public appearances, and notes on recordings by the Library of Congress, Yale and Columbia Universities.
Included in the series is "A Checklist of the Works of Babette Deutsch" (1969) by Judith Cook.
The series includes lecture notes on the poets Yeats, Eliot, Pound, and Stevens, as well as quotations from their writings. There are also clippings and articles by various writers including "The Teacher" by Deutsch. In addition, there are notes and annotations to poems for seven poetry workshops which were conducted by Deutsch in 1960-1961.
This series consists of a few mementos from Deutsch's childhood, programs of events attended, including performances by Isadora Duncan and Yvette Gilbert, and other ephemera. Present also are Deutsch's baby book and copies of the Barnard College yearbook, The Mortarboard, for 1917. A few periodicals are also included such as the Mark Twain Quarterly inscribed by Cyril Clemens, an article signed by Louis Bromfield, and the Trinity Review issue on Wallace Stevens.
The papers include writings about Deutsch from newspaper and periodical articles, Deutsch's clippings on various subjects, and personal notes such as a vault list. There are also awards, citations, and honors including certificates from Phi Beta Kappa, the National Institute of Arts and Letters, and an honorary Doctor of Letters from Columbia University. In addition, there is a desk calendar for 1979 and a guest book for Deutsch's memorial service.
- ca. 1860s-1970s.
The photographs in the collection are almost entirely of Deutsch and her family. They include numerous portraits of Deutsch taken throughout her life, photographs of her husband, son Adam, parents, grandparents, aunt, and cousins. In addition to modern photographs, there are also ambrotypes, tintypes, cabinet cards and cartes-de-visite.
This series includes all oversize items removed from other series in the papers.