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University of Texas at Austin

Judson Crews:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Crews, Judson
Title: Judson Crews Papers
Dates: 1935-1981 (bulk 1940-1966)
Extent: 17 boxes (7.15 linear feet)
Abstract: The papers of poet, editor, publisher, and book dealer Judson Crews include extensive correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts of novels, poetry, and other genres written by Crews under his many pseudonyms, and materials relating to censorship.
RLIN Record #: TXRC94-A16
Language: English.
Access Open for research

Administrative Information

Acquisition Purchases, 1962, 1981
Processed by Yuka Asai, Heather Moore, and Katherine Mosley, 1990, revised by David Hatfield Sparks, June 1994

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Biographical Sketch

Judson Crews, poet, editor, publisher, and book dealer, was born June 30, 1917, in Waco, Texas, to Noah George Crews and Tommie Farmer Crews. In 1947 he married Mildred Tolbert, a photographer and writer who also contributed to her husband's early publications and works. They had two children, Anna Bush and Carole Judith, before divorcing in 1980. Crews received both the B.A. (1941) and M.A. (1944) in Sociology from Baylor University, and during 1946-1947 studied fine arts at Baylor. In addition, Crews did graduate study at the University of Texas, El Paso in 1967. He has worked as an educator at Wharton County Junior College, New Mexico (1967-1970), the University of New Mexico, Gallup Branch (1971-1972), and at the University of Zambia (1974-1978). He has also been involved in social work. After two years in the U. S. Army Medical Corps during World War II, Crews moved his family and business, Motive Press, from Waco, Texas, to Taos, New Mexico, where he began his writing and publishing career in earnest.
Judson Crews was a prominent figure in the Southwest poetry scene as a poet, editor, and publisher of contemporary poetry and art magazines. Crews is known as an original and innovative poet applying the 20th-century poetic techniques of poets like Pound, Williams, and Wallace Stevens in an idiosyncratic way. Since 1935 he has contributed to a large number of little magazines, journals, and anthologies. These include Beloit Poetry Journal, Evergreen Review, Poetry Now, Wormwood Review, City Lights Anthology (1974), Poems Southwest (1968), and An Uninhibited Treasury of Erotic Poetry (1963). His published chapbooks include A Poet's Breath (1950), Come Curse the Moon (1952), The Wrath Wrenched Splendor of Love (1956), The Ogres Who Were His Henchmen (1958), and The Stones of Konarak (1966). Crews' more recent works include the chapbook, Nolo Contendere (1966), edited by Joanie Whitebird and a 1982 collection of poems, The Clock of Moss, edited by Carol Bergé.
Crews admittedly wrote under numerous pseudonyms. Of these pseudonyms, Willard Emory Betis, Trumbull Drachler, Cerise Farallon (Mrs. Trumbull Drachler, maiden name Lena Johnston), and Tobi Macadams have been clearly identified. In the instance of these, and possibly many other pseudonymous names, Crews created a fantasy world of writers to encompass, perhaps, the breadth of his literary ambitions.
Crews' fiction and non-fiction writing includes two unpublished novels and numerous essays. Crews was a crusader in various causes related to his writing and publishing activities. These causes include such topics as obscenity and censorship, freedom of sexual expression, and women's reproductive issues including abortion, contraception, and forced sterilization. Other essays include literary criticism, such as book reviews, as well as regional topics as found in The Southern Temper (1946), and Patocinio Barela: Taos Wood Carver (1955). In 1976 Crews began an extensive memoir which remains unpublished.
Crews' publishing activities began in earnest after his move from Texas to the Taos area. He started the Este Es Press in 1946, which remained in operation until 1966. The little magazines with which he was involved from 1940 to 1966 include The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, Motive, The Naked Ear, Poetry Taos, Suck-Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Vers Libre. Together with Scott Greer, he was co-editor of Crescendo: A Laboratory for Young America, and worked with Jay Waite on Gale. Crews published not only his own chapbooks and magazines but also those of his friends and colleagues, including the Zambian poet Mason Jordan Mason, among others. In conjunction with this printing activity, Crews operated the Motive Book Shop which became a focal point for the dissemination and advocacy of avant-garde poetry, important little magazines and literary reviews, as well as so-called pornographic materials. The material that Crews sold ranged from literary classics such as the works of D. H. Lawrence and Henry Miller, to hard-to-obtain domestic and foreign avant-garde journals, and nudist magazines. Crews was also a friend as well as an advocate of Henry Miller and continued to sell Miller's works after they were banned in the United States.

Scope and Contents

Scope and Contents

The Judson Crews Papers, 1935-1981 (bulk 1940-1966), include correspondence, drafts, notes, manuscripts, and newspaper clippings, as well as page proofs, paste-ups, and various materials collected for publication. The collection is arranged in five series: Correspondence, 1935-1981 (7.5 boxes); Works, 1946-1974 (2 boxes); Works by Others, 1945-1966 (2 boxes); Publications Edited, 1940-1965 (1.5 boxes); Censorship Activities, 1945-1966 (1 box); and Personal Papers, 1935-1966 (3 boxes).
Crews' correspondence with friends, colleagues and editors, subscribers and customers dominates the collection. Significant correspondents include Wendell B. Anderson, Imamu Amiri Baraka, Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin, Robert Bly, Charles Bukowski, Glen Coffield, Robert Creeley, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Carol Ely Harper, Langston Hughes, Aldous Huxley, John F. Kennedy, Meridel Le Sueur, Gordon Lish, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Larry McMurtry, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Alan Swallow, Louis Untermeyer, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky. While most of the correspondence is of a business nature, some letters from writers with whom Crews was more intimate shed light on his personal life and creative process. Other correspondence with individuals, organizations, and government agencies pertains specifically to Crews' involvement in censorship and obscenity issues. A complete list of correspondents can be found at the end of this inventory.
Manuscripts of works by Crews and others are also present in the collection. Among these are poems by Crews spanning the years 1946-1965, including those published separately in individual chapbooks. Other unpublished poetry manuscripts include "Sudden Encounter" (nd) and "The Unnecessary Serpent" (nd). Numerous early works by Crews are found in the works series, including two as yet unpublished novels, miscellaneous essays, book reviews, and notebooks, as well as a 1974 diary of Crews' travel in Africa. Some of Crews' pseudonymous poetry (by Willard Emory Betis, Trumbull Drachler, and Cerise Farallon) is also present. Other writers whose works are represented in this collection include Wendell B. Anderson, Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin, Carol Bergé, Scott Greer, Norman Macleod, Mason Jordan Mason, Alfred Morang, and Robert Rivera.
Publication files for several little magazines with which Crews was involved, about 1940 to 1965, are also found among these papers. These include The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, The Naked Ear, Gale (co-edited with Jay Waite), Poetry Taos, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Suck Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast.
A few personal records such as medical and military papers, are also present. Other materials in the collection include numerous clippings, many of which are related to obscenity and censorship topics (especially the Henry Miller obscenity trial of 1961), advertisements, brochures, and catalogs from nudist colonies, and newsletters and pamphlets from a variety of political and literary organizations in which Crews was interested, helped organize, or of which he was a member. Copies of "The Horse Fly" (1935-1965), written by his friend Spud Johnson, are also found here.
Beyond the study of Crews and his writings, this collection also provides insight into the Southwestern and avant-garde poetry scenes of the 1950s and 1960s, the publication and editorial process involved in publishing little magazines, the assumption and use of pseudonymous literary identities, as well as issues involved in publishing and bookselling, such as censorship, obscenity, and the import and sale of banned books through the U. S. mails.

Series Descriptions

Series I. Correspondence, 1935-1981 (7.5 boxes)
This series consists of correspondence from Crews' friends, colleagues, and editors of numerous little magazines and poetry anthologies. There is also an extensive correspondence with subscribers to his publications and customers of his book store and mail order service, the Motive Book Shop. This series is divided into Crews' correspondence, outgoing and incoming, and a group of correspondence received by others. The incoming correspondence is arranged alphabetically; individuals for whom there is more extensive material have separate folders. There is a chronological group of Crews' outgoing correspondence (1963-1981) which includes copies of letters to numerous editors and colleagues. These are the most recent letters among the papers and reflect his editorial and personal relationships with Carol Bergé and Joannie Whitebird.
There is one folder each of correspondence from Robert Creeley and Henry Miller, as well as persons known to the community of little magazines such as Wendell B. Anderson, Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin, and Oscar Collier. Other well-known writers such as Imamu Amiri Baraka (aka LeRoi Jones), Robert Bly, Charles Bukowski, Langston Hughes, Anaïs Nin, Kenneth Patchen, and William Carlos Williams are represented here. The correspondence with Henry Miller and Anaïs Nin concerns business matters rather than any literary influence or mentorship. Other correspondence, especially that with Beaudoin, Creeley, and Patchen, is of a more personal and critical nature, and includes discussion of poetics and careers.
Some of the general correspondence reflects Crews' interest in numerous causes, such as obscenity and censorship, freedom of sexual expression, and women's reproductive issues including abortion, contraception, and forced sterilization. The correspondence also documents the degree to which Crews was involved in the dissemination and advocacy of avant-garde poetry through little magazines as well as the degree to which he helped push the limits and merits of what was, in the 1950s and 1960s, considered pornographic material. Censorship of literary works such as those by James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, and Henry Miller was a crucial issue to the avant-garde, Beat, and other regional and literary movements in the United States. Crews, as a friend and advocate of Henry Miller, continued to sell the works of Miller and others after they were banned.
There is also a subseries of correspondence received by others, 1947-1966, which includes that of his wife, Mildred Tolbert, and of his friend and colleague Wendell B. Anderson. There is one folder of correspondence received by Scott Greer almost entirely from James Franklin Lewis, co-editor of Crescendo, 1941-1944. Also found here are two folders addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Trumbull Drachler and Cerise Farallon, two of Crews' pseudonyms. "Cerise Farallon" is, in fact, a pen name for "Mrs. Trumbull Drachler" whose maiden name is "Lena Johnston". Some of this correspondence documents these fictional identities, such as a wedding invitation, and letters from editors and publishers. Also found here is correspondence to Mason Jordan Mason. Crews appears as Mason's editor, publisher, and liaison to other publishers and colleagues in this correspondence.
Series II. Works, 1946-1978 (2 boxes)
Manuscripts for Crews' poems spanning 1946-1965 are present as are poems published in individual chapbooks. These works are arranged alphabetically by title, except for individual poetry manuscripts which can be found at the end of the series. The individual poems have been left in Crews' original order, which may represent a gathering intended for a published collection of his poetry. The manuscripts are annotated with revisions, printer's marks, and often the date and place of publication. Many are signed by Crews. Each is also numbered in at least two places on the page. The meaning of this numbering system is not known, but may be related to specific magazine issues.
The manuscript for "The Iron Crucible", from which Crews selected poems for an early privately-printed chapbook, No Is the Night (1949), is present. Two other poetry manuscripts, "Sudden Encounter" (nd) and "The Unnecessary Serpent" (nd), are found here, signed and/or annotated by Crews. One folder includes poems written under three of Crews' pseudonyms (Trumbull Drachler, Willard Emory Betis, and Cerise Farallon).
Also found in this series are numerous early non-poetry works. These include two unpublished novels, "Vengeance Ho: A Story of Adventure in the Old West" (nd), and "Rape of the Innocent...Rape of the [Damned]" (1959-1960). A separate manuscript, "The Curse of Ham", appears to be a version of Chapter II of "Rape of the Innocent...Rape of the [Damned]". Essays such as "The Past Decade of the New Poetry" and drafts of essays on the topics of contraception, sterilization, obscenity, and censorship are also among the papers in this series. A notebook titled "Documents" (nd) is in the form of a literary scrapbook with annotations. There is also one folder of book reviews of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction titles. Accompanying these works is correspondence concerning censorship and editorial problems with the potential publication of the novel "Rape of the Innocent...Rape of the [Damned]". This series also includes a diary kept in 1974 by Crews during his tenure at the University of Zambia in Lusaka, Africa.
Series III. Works by Others, 1945-1966 (2 boxes)
Because Crews collected manuscripts by friends for possible publication, numerous manuscripts by Wendell B. Anderson, Scott Greer, Norman Macleod, Mason Jordan Mason, and Robert Rivera are present. These manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by author. Among these works are five folders of poetry by Wendell B. Anderson, which include a dozen chapbooks and two essays, arranged alphabetically by title, and one folder of poems by Anderson. There is one folder each of miscellaneous poems by Robert Rivera and Scott Greer, editor of Gale. Also present is a manuscript of Norman Macleod's "The Whaling Christ and other Poems".
Mason Jordan Mason's poetry in this collection is typed and numbered in a method similar to that used by Crews for his own poems. The manuscript for Mason's chapbook, The Mules that Angels Ride, is also among Crews' papers. Mason became known as an "American Negro writer" during the 1950s and 1960s and was published, anthologized, and hailed by such African American writers as Imamu Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and Langston Hughes as an important new voice in African American poetry. Although Crews continues to deny the assertion, it was generally assumed in the literary community to which Crews belonged that Mason was yet another of Crews' cleverly constructed literary personas. Crews reported that he spent part of his teaching sabbatical in Zambia, 1974-1978, searching for Mason and lamented that all traces of the promising poet seemed to have vanished.
One folder of little magazines contains Crews' poetry as well as the poems of many of the aforementioned poets. These publications, spanning 1959-1966, include The Camel's Hump (Keith Wilson, ed.), Golden Gate (Glen Coffield, ed.), Jacaranda, an all Crews edition of Seed #31, Marvin Malone's, Nightshade, and The Desert Review's Penny Poetry Sheet.
A few other manuscripts by numerous writers remain scattered throughout the collection, especially in the Correspondence and Publications Edited series. These writers include Kenneth Lawrence Beaudoin, Carol Bergé and Alfred Morang.
Series IV. Publications Edited, 1940-1965 (1.5 boxes)
This series comprises material from 1940 to 1965 concerning several early magazines with which Crews was associated: The Deer and Dachshund, The Flying Fish, Gale, The Naked Ear, Poetry Taos, Taos: A Deluxe Magazine of the Arts, and Suck Egg Mule: A Recalcitrant Beast, arranged alphabetically by magazine title. These materials are for the most part fragmentary, loosely organized, and contain material for more than one issue. The materials from The Naked Ear are primarily for issues #8 and #9 (ca. 1950), and include paste-ups, photographs, and printer's proofs, as well as submitted manuscripts.
Crews states that he was involved with Jay Waite in the publication of Gale magazine. The files for Gale (about 1 box) are more complete than those for the other magazines. These files also include pasteups, photographs, and printer's proofs as well as manuscripts submitted for publication, correspondence, and a final printed copy of each issue for Volume I, #1-8, 10-12, and Volume II, #1-5 (1949-1950). Among these papers are three folders of correspondence from Gale, alphabetically arranged. Correspondence is found, however, throughout this series.
Also present in the series are two folders of photographs and art works, including drawings, woodcuts, and prints by artists such as Oscar Collier, Luis Herrera Guevara, and Mildred Tolbert. Some of these materials were used in Crews' publications.
Series V. Censorship Activities, 1945-1966, nd (1 box)
The Censorship Activities series is arranged alphabetically either by topic or correspondent. Crews' outgoing correspondence comprises one folder of handwritten drafts and carbon copies, 1960-1964, including his "letters to the editor", as well as letters to individuals representing organizations, local government, and the U. S. Congress. These concern Crews' efforts against literary and artistic censorship on the local and federal levels.
Incoming correspondence includes letters addressed to Trumbull Drachler, one of Crews' pseudonyms, and correspondence from the Henry Miller Literary Society and officials of the U. S. Post Office and Treasury Departments. These letters mainly concern problems with selling books and magazines through the mail, as well as pending hearings and legislation on censorship. Also present are numerous clippings concerning the Miller obscenity trial in 1961, and other articles relating to censorship and banning of literature.
Crews used the nudist and other "pornographic" materials collected here (primarily visual images of women) for collages that he created for the covers of several chapbooks. These materials include brochures, catalogs, and advertisements for nudist colonies, "art" films and books, magazines, and other sexual ephemera. Also represented are advocacy organizations and publications (both for and against censorship) such as the American Library Association's Newsletter on Intellectual Freedom, The Freedom to Read Citizen's Committee Newsletter, the National Office for Decent Literature, the Christian Herald's Family Bookshelf, and Americans for Moral Decency.
Series VI. Personal Papers, 1935-1966 (3 boxes)
The Personal Papers series consists of Crews' financial and educational records, medical and military records, and related correspondence. The series is arranged alphabetically by format of material or subject. Newspaper clippings, 1944-1966, cover a range of topics. Also included here are copies of "The Horse Fly" (1935-1965) written by Crews' friend, Spud Johnson. "The Horse Fly" began as an independent literary newspaper and became a section of a local New Mexico daily newspaper, El Crespusculo. Copies of "The Horse Fly" are housed in oversize folders, as are many large posters and flyers of literary and art show openings and events received by crews in the 1960s.
The series also contains a collection of newsletters and pamphlets from the many political and literary organizations in which Crews was interested, helped organize, or of which he was a member, including Alternative (1949), the Dorian Book Service Review, the War Resisters' League Newsletter, the Society for Non-Violence Against Nuclear Weapons, and the Society of Separationists (Madalyn Murray O'Hair, president). Also included here are more advertisements and brochures for nudist colonies and other sexually-oriented ephemera.

Related Material

Other Crews materials can be found in several HRC collections, including the E. E. Cummings, Henry Miller, Spud Johnson, and Gerard Malanga collections. There are also letters from Mildred Tolbert Crews in the Spud Johnson Collection.
The HRC was a customer of Crews' book service and purchased various little magazines between 1959 and 1963. A record of these transactions can be found in the Crews and Little Magazines Collection Files.
Other collections of Crews' papers are housed at the University of New Mexico Special Collections Library and at the University of California, Los Angeles. The collection at UCLA also includes materials of Mildred Tolbert.

Index Terms


Anderson, Wendell B.
Baraka, Imamu Amiri, 1934- .
Beaudoin, Kenneth Lawrence, 1913- .
Bergé, Carol, 1928- .
Bly, Robert.
Bond, Pearl.
Bontemps, Arna, 1902-1973.
Bukowski, Charles.
Bynner, Witter, 1881-1968.
Childs, Barney.
Ciardi, John, 1916- .
Coffield, Glen, 1917- .
Corman, Cid, 1924- .
Creeley, Robert, 1926- .
Crosby, Caresse, 1892- .
Duncan, Robert Edward, 1919- .
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926- .
Greer, Scott A.
Hill, Hyacinthe.
Hoover, J. Edgar (John Edgar), 1895-1972.
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967.
Huxley, Aldous, 1894-1963.
Ignatow, David, 1914- .
Johnson, Walter Willard, 1897-1966.
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963.
Kupferberg, Tuli.
Legman, G. (Gershon), 1917- .
Le Sueur, Meridel.
Levy, D. A.
Lish, Gordon.
Luhan, Mabel Dodge, 1879-1962.
Macleod, Norman, 1906- .
Macauley, Robie.
McMurtry, Larry.
Malanga, Gerard.
Miller, Henry, 1891- .
Morang, Alfred, 1902-1958.
Nin, Anaïs, 1903-1977.
Patchen, Kenneth, 1911-1971.
Rexroth, Kenneth, 1905- .
Shapiro, Karl, 1913- .
Sorrentino, Gilbert, 1929- .
Swallow, Alan, 1915-1966.
Untermeyer, Louis, 1885-1977.
Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.
Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978.


American poetry--Southwest, New.
American poetry--Periodicals.
American poetry--20th century.
Erotic poetry, American.
Experimental poetry.
Little magazines--United States.
Poets, American.
Southwest, New--Poetry.

Document Types

Commonplace books.
First drafts.
Galley proofs.

Judson Crews Papers--Folder List