Scope and arrangement
The Martin B. Duberman Papers contain personal and professional correspondence, organizational and topical files, manuscripts, typescripts, and drafts of his writings, teaching files, recorded interviews, photographs, films and memorabilia documenting his personal and professional life from 1917 through 2010.
The materials most heavily reflect his career as an academic historian. There is correspondence with students, colleagues, publishers, journals and libraries, as well as syllabi and lecture notes, and materials documenting his experimental seminars on American radicalism included in the collection. Much of the material reflects the intellectual and social ferment at universities during the 1960s. Because Duberman frequently wrote for general circulation magazines and newspapers, his writings reached larger audiences than those of a typical academic, and provoked discussions of campus radicals, Black Power, educational reform, and the relevance of historical study. Beginning in 1973 with the publication of his book, Black Mountain, in which Duberman came out publicly as gay, the papers reflect Duberman's position as a spokesman for the LGBT rights movement and his research interest in the history of human sexuality. Duberman's planning, development, founding and initial leadership of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies is also documented.
The collection contains copies of many of his writings, including those done as a teenager and in college, through the 2000s in either published form or as manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, or proofs. Research materials, reviews, promotional materials, and correspondence relating to specific published titles are also included in the collection.
Duberman's career in the theater is documented through correspondence, production notes, audio tapes, memorabilia, press clippings, and scripts. Most theatrical material concerns the various productions of In White America for which there is business correspondence and financial records supplementing the other materials. Playscripts include The Martyr, In White America, Roy, and others. There are sound recordings of performances or readings of Dudes, Elagabalus, Groups, Kerouac, and Payments. The collection also has photographs and memorabilia from high school and college plays and summer theater camp.
Personal materials include an abundance of family photographs, home movies and memorabilia documenting his youth as well as correspondence with friends and additional photographs covering his adult life.
The Martin B. Duberman papers are arranged in nine series:
Letters in the General Correspondence section that were written or received before 1962 have been separated into family, personal, and academic/professional correspondence. Correspondence from 1962-1979 is arranged first by year, and then alphabetically by the name of the writer or organization. Letters in this subseries on corporate letterhead are filed by the name of the organization unless the writer is a personal friend or is not writing on behalf of that organization. Letters from 1980 to 2006 are filed chronologically.
The family correspondence contains letters to and from Duberman while he attended Camp Idylwold, 1936-1944, his letters to his family while at Yale, 1948-1951; and letters he wrote during summer vacations spent in Mexico, 1946, on an American Youth Hostels cross-country bicycle tour, 1948, and in Europe, 1950 and 1951. Family correspondence after 1961 is relatively sparse, consisting of letters from his mother, his aunt Teresa “Tedda” Bauml, and his sister Lucile Belden (later Milberg).
The personal correspondence, 1946-1961, contains chiefly letters from college and graduate school friends, fellow faculty members at Yale, and some of Duberman's students. There are also a few letters from Duberman to his former college roommate, Richard Slade.
The academic/professional correspondence, 1948-1961, and the remainder of the General Correspondence, 1962-2006, document the development of his academic career, his activity as a playwright, and his work on behalf of gay and lesbian rights. Correspondence is with fellow scholars, writers, students, editors, theatrical producers and directors, numerous gay rights organizations and activists, personal friends, and members of the general public. Most of the correspondence consists of incoming letters, although there are a significant number of Duberman's replies as well. These are filed after the incoming letter to which they reply.
Letters from scholars concern the sharing of information on common research topics, commentary on each other's work, the climate at different colleges, and requests to contribute essays to books, participate in symposia, or arrange speaking engagements. The numerous letters from students contain requests for personal and academic advice, job and school recommendations. There are also letters from students whose research he supervised, describing the progress of their research, the struggle to get jobs, and much about their personal lives as well. These letters evidence the friendly, supportive and informal relationship he had with many of his students.
Correspondence with publishers includes letters to and from his editors at Houghton-Mifflin, Random House, E.P. Dutton, and Chelsea House; his literary agent at the Sterling Lord Agency, and other book, magazine, and journal publishers wishing to option his books, contract for reviews and essays, or solicit quotable comments on new publications.
Finally, there are many letters from the general public commenting on his writing, and extensive personal correspondence with friends.
Significant topics addressed include the revision of the historical appraisal of the abolitionist movement, the many productions of In White America and public reaction to it, his published critiques of the history profession and the value of history, his essays defending student radicalism, his critique of the universities and their teaching methods, and the development of his own teaching innovations. In particular, much of the correspondence from 1968 deals with new approaches to teaching and efforts of scholars at various institutions to create a more meaningful educational experience. The correspondence also documents Duberman's battle with the Princeton administration and history department over his experimental seminars (see correspondence with Richard Challener, Laurence Stone, R.R. Palmer, and Edward Sullivan as well as additional materials in Series VI. Teaching Files). There is also correspondence with Eugene Genovese, Christopher Lasch, Howard Zinn, and other “radical historians” discussing the New Left, each other's work, attempts to organize as a force within the American Historical Association, and political action. After 1972, much of correspondence concerns his efforts on behalf of gay rights, gay organizations and publications, and his writing on homosexuality and related topics in the popular press.
Additions to Series I. (received in 1998) consist of personal letters and correspondence, chiefly from the 1970s, concerning National Gay Task Force and Gay Academic Union business; initiatives to combat discrimination against gays in academia; and the reception of the 1976 Washington, D.C. production of his play, Payments. Also included are letters to Roger Donald of Little, Brown regarding his research and writing plans; communications with scholars and researchers interested in the history of sexuality; and newsletters, meeting announcements, and other items received regarding the activities of the group Lesbian and Gay Male Socialists.
Among his correspondents not mentioned above are: Dennis Altman,Eric Bentley,John Boswell, Fawn Brodie, Howard Brown, Charlotte Bunch, L.H. Butterfield,Louis Crompton, David Davis, David Donald, Leon Edel, Larry Gara, Frank Gatell, Richard Goldstein, Richard Hall, Oscar Handlin, Bertha Harris, James Leo Herlihy, Laura Z. Hobson, Richard Hofstadter, John Holt, Holly Hughes, Karla Jay, Judson Jerome, Jonathan Katz, Larry Kramer, Jesse Lemisch, Ellen Levine, Staughton Lynd, Lawrence Mass, James McPherson, Robert Middlekauff, Pauli Murray, Joan Nestle, Robert Patrick, Richard Plant, John Preston, David Potter, Willie Lee Rose, Louis Ruchames, Vito Russo, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Greta Schiller, Alisa Solomon, Catharine Stimpson, Thomas Stoddard, John Stoltenberg, C.A. Tripp, Carole Vance, William Ward, George Whitmore, Jonathan Williams, Alfred Young, Allan Young, and Perry Deane Young.
The Project Files contain research materials and correspondence related to Duberman's published works. However, it does not contain all of the correspondence relating to each particular work. The General Correspondence should be consulted as well. Typescripts of some of his work can be found in Series III. Writings.
- circa 1948-2000s
This series contains manuscripts, typescripts, and printed copies of Duberman's literary, critical, and historical writings. The shorter works include poetry, short stories, scholarly articles, other essays, speeches, and reviews. Plays include scripts from his first, unproduced work, The Martyr, through Soon. There are variant versions of many of the scripts, some with abundant holograph revisions. The Books section contains manuscripts, typescripts, galleys, and proofs of his historical works from his dissertation on Charles Francis Adams through Stonewall.
This series contains lecture notes, examinations, class assignments, syllabi, and other materials from courses Duberman taught, chiefly at Yale and Princeton. There is also considerable material regarding his experimental seminars on the history of American radicalism and his conflicts with the Princeton administration over his freedom to try innovative approaches to teaching. The conflict is documented in correspondence with the history faculty and administrators, internal memoranda, and articles from the Daily Princetonian. This series also includes a Princeton senior thesis by Peter W. Janney about the American Radicalism seminar as well as transcripts of discussions with Duberman about the course. Finally, the series also contains Duberman's correspondence with faculty, students, and administrators at Herbert Lehman College, City University of New York, along with some student evaluations of his courses.
Organizational files include general mailings, printed material, meeting minutes, press releases, memoranda, and other records of organizations on whose boards or committees Duberman served. These include REDRESS, 1972-1974, a group of prominent Americans formed to demand an end to the war in Vietnam; and two organizations where Duberman held board membership, the Gay Academic Union, 1973-1977, an organization of gay and lesbian university professors; and the National Gay Task Force, 1973-1978, formed to advance the welfare and civil rights of gays and lesbians. Files on the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS), which Duberman founded in 1991, can be found in boxes 152-158. While some correspondence is contained in these files, relevant material can also be found in the general correspondence.
The topical files contain reports, clippings, and ephemera on gay rights issues, most notably, on the case of Leonard Matlovich, an Air Force sergeant who was discharged from the service after his admission that he was homosexual. The files contain Duberman's notes taken at the hearings at which Matlovich protested his discharge, as well as photocopies of related case files made available to him by the defense attorney. Also present are press clippings, and drafts of Duberman's article on the Matlovich case written for The New York Times Magazine.
This series contains memorabilia from Duberman's personal and professional life. Personal materials include family mementos and documents, juvenile writings, sketches, and scrapbooks, high school and college report cards, yearbooks, newspapers and literary magazines, commencement programs, class papers and examinations. There are also programs, photographs, and reviews of school plays in which Duberman acted, and scrapbooks documenting his trips to Europe in 1950 and 1951.
His literary career is documented in numerous scrapbooks, and four boxes of unmounted clippings and ephemera, 1961-2007. Scrapbooks devoted to a single work are chiefly in Series II. Project Files. In addition to clippings of articles about Duberman, there are also typescripts of interviews, reviews of his books and essays, as well as production notes, programs, promotional materials, and reviews for several of his plays.
This series includes numerous photographs of Duberman, his family, and friends. Formats include black and white and color prints, 35mm. slides, and negatives. There are snapshots, candid and formal portraits, and group portraits taken throughout his life. His youthful activities are particularly well documented in pictures from Camp Idylwold, the MacArthur Summer Theater Camp, his AYH cross-country bicycle trip, and other summer activities. Among the later materials are portraits taken for book jackets and promotional purposes, informal photographs of Duberman with board members of the National Gay Task Force, and with his partner Eli Zal.
The audio materials consist of interviews of Duberman, interviews conducted by Duberman, performances or readings of his plays, discussions of his experimental seminar on American radicalism with Princeton student Peter Janney, 1969, lectures on American history and literature, and a wire recording made at the 25th wedding anniversary of Duberman's parents, 1948.
The radio and television interviews with Duberman, 1963-1964, concern In White America and the civil rights movement. Interviews from 1969-1983 contain discussions of his experimental history seminars, his dispute with Elaine May over her direction of one of his plays, his research on Black Mountain College, his feelings about the development of the gay rights movement, and other topics. Norman Thomas was interviewed by Duberman for an episode of the “Years of Protest‚” television series which aired on WNDT Channel 13, New York City, in 1966. The remaining interviews were made in conjunction with his research. He interviewed with Edward Bernays and Herbert Gutman for a proposed book on the history of sexual behavior in the United States. For recordings of interviews conducted for Stonewall and The Worlds of Lincoln Kirstein, see Series II. Project Files.
The collection contains 17 home movies made between approximately 1931 and 1952. The films have not been viewed and all descriptive information in the container list was taken from labels on the film cans. The films include footage of Duberman's first birthday, his college graduation, and his trips to Europe in 1950 and 1951.