University of Texas at Austin

Harper & Brothers:

A Preliminary Inventory of Its Records at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Harper & Brothers
Title: Harper & Brothers Records
Dates: 1928-1962 (bulk 1957-1959)
Extent: 43 document boxes, 8 oversize boxes, 1 oversize flat file (20.06 linear feet)
Abstract: The Harper & Brothers records include editorial correspondence and business files from the book and magazine divisions spanning 1928-1962, with emphasis on 1957-1959.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-01843
Language: English
Access: Open for research. Researchers must create an online Research Account and agree to the Materials Use Policy before using archival materials. Part or all of this collection is housed off-site and may require up to three business days’ notice for access in the Ransom Center’s Reading and Viewing Room. Please contact the Center before requesting this material:
Use Policies: Ransom Center collections may contain material with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in the collections without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the Ransom Center and The University of Texas at Austin assume no responsibility.
Restrictions on Use: Authorization for publication is given on behalf of the University of Texas as the owner of the collection and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder which must be obtained by the researcher. For more information please see the Ransom Center's Open Access and Use Policies.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation Harper & Brothers, 1833-1962 Records (Manuscript Collection MS-01843). Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
Acquisition: Gift, 1961-1962
Processed by: Liz Murray, 1996; Kevin O’Sullivan, 2010

Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

The Harper & Brothers records include editorial correspondence and business files from the book and magazine divisions spanning 1928-1962, with emphasis on 1957-1959. The materials in this collection are among the last to appear under the publisher's original name, for in 1962 Harper and Brothers merged with Row, Peterson and Company to form Harper and Row Publishers.
The material is arranged in four series: I. Book Correspondence, II. Harper's Magazine Editorial Correspondence, III. Business Papers, and IV. Production Material.
The first series, Book Correspondence, is divided into four subseries: College Department, Medical Book Department, Social & Economic Books Department, and Miscellaneous. Arranged by state, the College Department's sales and promotion correspondence in Subseries A includes colleges and universities in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin for 1959 and 1960. Topics include queries regarding textbook orders, shipments and returns, and requests for review copies with correspondents in colleges, universities, and college book stores. Fifty states are represented in the sales reports maintained by the college department staff working "in the field." The sales staff made periodic visits to colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Using a standard reporting form, these comprehensive sales reports identified instructors by department, their current and future textbook needs, and notations of books to send for review. Curriculum and course offerings were followed closely and written reports reflected changing trends within departments.
By far the most problematic material in this collection is found in the files of the Medical Book Department in Subseries B. At some point these files underwent an organizational trauma which caused them to lack even rudimentary order. Much of the material was unfoldered, causing not only considerable crumpling of carbon copies and other damage but also a jumble of shuffled correspondence relating to numerous book titles. Since clueless scraps of scribbled notes were interspersed with correspondence and memorandum, typescripts and edited copy, and photographic illustrations, it became impossible to recreate the original order. As the collection was removed from the packing carton, unfoldered material was gathered into successive folders labeled "loose material--various titles." Consequently, the titles given in the Box List are present, but not in alphabetical order as described. Moreover, the original folders were extremely worn and not always labeled. Most have been refoldered and labeled with the information provided on the original folder. Correspondence between editors and authors includes discussion of text revisions, illustrations, permission to quote the work of others, and related publication topics.
Subseries C contains correspondence from the Social and Economic Books department from 1938 to 1957. This correspondence with editor Ordway Tead, assistant department head Richard B. McAdoo, and others, on educational and business topics, also contains press clippings, contracts, and photographs of authors. It is arranged alphabetically by author's name or book title and has been housed in the original folders. Many of the onionskin carbons are crumpled and torn, while rusted paper clips and acidic paper have discolored and damaged adjacent sheets.
The miscellaneous folders in Subseries D do not correspond to the departments described above. The file of James [Jacques] Galston contains letters written by Cass Canfield, president of Harper & Brothers, on behalf of Mr. Galston, an Austrian Jew, who sought to emigrate from Vienna to the United States in the late 1930s to escape the German occupation. The remaining two folders include correspondence from the Juvenile Division and the Trade Editorial Department.
Series II contains correspondence from the Harper's Magazine Editorial Rooms from 1956-1958. The files were maintained in folders with pre-printed alphabetical divisions and number sequences (for example, Ja-Jn 52; Jo-Jz....53, etc.). Within the alphabetical sections, letters were filed in date order. This original order has been preserved. The correspondence of Harper's editors include the managing editor Russell Lynes, associate editor Eric Larrabee, R. B. Silvers (who, in a 1958 letter to Archibald MacLeish, wrote that he had edited the Paris Review and was still doing so since he shared a flat with George Plimpton in New York), Katherine Gauss Jackson, Marion K. Sanders, Catharine Meyer, and John Fischer. These editors corresponded with authors regarding rejections, acceptances, proofs, and editorial corrections. Editorial comments were handwritten on the backs of the submissions' envelopes. Editor Katherine Gauss Jackson reported that every month nearly 1800 manuscripts were received, with 12 accepted. Russell Lynes wrote that one piece of fiction, three or four poems, and eight or nine articles appeared each month. Submissions included prose, poetry, and articles on topics such as politics, literature, economics, and international affairs. Correspondence with other publishers and literary agents is also frequently found.
Correspondents include Kingsley Amis, Saul Bellow, Robert Bly, Kay Boyle, General Omar N. Bradley, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., Babette Deutsch, Peter Drucker, John Kenneth Galbraith, Robert Graves, Arthur Miller, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov, Anne Harvey Sexton, Leopold Stokowski, John Updike, Mae West, Edmund Wilson, and Victor Wolfson.
Subject files and files for individuals are also found within the general alphabetical arrangement. For example, a folder labeled "After Hours" contains correspondence related to the column of that name, covering art, music, sports, food, and items of domestic interest. Correspondents in this file include Studs Terkel, Alec Waugh, Mike Wallace, and Ray Bradbury. A separate folder was created for Frederick Lewis Allen, editor in chief of Harper's, at the time of his death in 1954. A folder labeled "Suggestions--No" forms a separate alphabet of rejected submissions for January and February 1958. The use of cellophane tape and poor quality paper have discolored some items in this part of the collection.
The business papers in Series III are subdivided into material from the Mail Order Division, the Manufacturing Department, Permissions, and Sales and Promotion Material. The files of the Mail Order Division relate primarily to the sale of Harper's mailing lists for direct mail purposes. The Manufacturing Department material includes detailed accounting records for reprint and bind orders, paper inventories, and book production schedules. The permission files were maintained primarily by the College Department, but also include the Permissions Department, Science and Technical Books, and Social and Economic Books. They contain requests by authors and publishers to quote from Harper's publications. A variety of sales literature is found in the last subseries, including book synopses, descriptions and lists of forthcoming books, and promotional material.
Series IV contains a variety of production material ranging from Harper's Magazine proofs and galleys for issues in 1959-1960 to layouts, paste-ups, and mechanicals for book jackets and illustrations. The artwork is arranged by size in two alphabetical-by-author sequences. Books represented are: Dean Acheson, Sketches From Life of Men I've Known; Madeleine Carabo-Cone, The Playground as Music Teacher; Joyce Cary, Spring Song and Other Stories; Bennett Cerf, Outlook on a Limerick; John Cheever, Some People, Places & Things That Will Not Appear in My Next Novel; Norman Cousins, In Place of Folly; Arthur and Barbara Gelb, O'Neill; Aldous Huxley, Island; Storm Jameson, Last Score and The Road From the Monument; Larry McMurtry, Horseman, Pass By; Nancy Mitford, Don't Tell Alfred; Alan Moorehead, The White Nile; George Plimpton, Out of My League; James Salter, The Arm of Flesh; Marion K. Sanders, The Crisis in American Medicine; Ignazio Silone, The Fox and the Camelias; James Thurber, Lanterns & Lances; Thornton Wilder, Our Town; Sloan Wilson, A Sense of Values; among others. Also included is a pencil sketch for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal accompanied by a descriptive memorandum from Garth Williams.

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