MS Am 2077

New Directions Publishing Corp. New Directions Publishing Corp. records, circa 1932-1997: Guide.

Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University


Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 USA

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: b
Call No.: MS Am 2077
Repository: Houghton Library, Harvard Library, Harvard University
Creator: New Directions Publishing Corp.
Title: New Directions Publishing Corp. records,
Date(s): 1932-1997.
Quantity: 1 collection (286 linear feet (860 boxes)
Language of materials: Collection materials are primarily in English with some in Spanish.
Abstract: Records of the New Directions Publishing Corporation largely from the Norfolk, Connecticut office of the founder, James Laughlin.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

97M-49. Bequest of James Laughlin IV, 1997; received 1998 Apr. 30.
44NM-2. bMS Am 2077 (881) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Oct.; bequest 1997.
44LM-4F. bMS Am 2077 (4075) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.
44LM-6F. bMS Am 2077 (4096) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.
44LM-5F. bMS Am 2077 (4098) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.
44LM-2F. bMS Am 2077 (4101) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.
44LM-7F. bMS Am 2077 (4102) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.
70M-39. bMS Am 2077 (4290) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1970 Dec.; bequest 1997.
2000M-54. bMS Am 2077 (1745) Gift of Eliot Weinberger, 2001 April 12. 2006M-12.bMS Am 2077 (1154a), (2021a), (2023a) Gift of William Reese Company; received: 2006 Aug. 16.
2008M-17r. Copies interfiled in bMS Am 2077 (1039) Gift of Elaine Lustig Cohen, 2002 March 20.
2011M-146. bMS Am 2077 (3617a) Gift of New Directions Publishing Corp., 2000 March 27.

Processing Information:

Processed by: Jackie Dean, Mary Hammer, Bonnie B. Salt, and Melanie Wisner; with the assistance of Vicki Denby, Kristine Jelstrom-Hamill, Peter Hanlon, Jermaine Hollins, Paul Morel, Michael Newton, and Meghan Schmeltz-Kiel.

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.

Preferred Citation for Publication:

New Directions Publishing Corp. Records, circa 1932-1997 (MS Am 2077). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Related Materials

The personal papers of James Laughlin have been cataloged separately as bMS Am 2077.2. The reader will find that there is still some overlap in content between the various groupings of New Directions material and Laughlin's personal papers, and is advised to check all of the Houghton's holdings of New Directions materials when searching for specific topics. Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books are cataloged in bMS Am 2077.1. Printed matter of New Directions Publishing Corporation such as catalogs, circulars, and ephemera have been catalogued as bMS Am 2077.3. New materials will continue to be added, so the reader is advised to also check the HOLLIS catalog. Monographs published by New Directions are listed in the HOLLIS catalog and can be found by searching under author "New Directions Publishing Corp."

Biographical / Historical

James Laughlin (1914-1997) began his publishing career as the literary editor of New Democracy, a magazine devoted to the economic theory Social Credit. Here Laughlin published Modern writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams in a section of the magazine entitled "New Directions." In 1936, while in his Junior year at Harvard University, Laughlin gathered the best of these pieces and put them together in the first annual anthology, New Directions in Prose and Poetry. Thus marked the beginning of the New Directions Publishing Company.
New Directions' publishing program focused on poetry, experimental writing, and quality translations of foreign literature, as well as bringing classics back into print. They are the main publisher for Ezra Pound, Tennessee Williams, and William Carlos Williams. Other authors whose work they have published include: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Thomas Merton, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Delmore Schwartz, and Dylan Thomas. The company was incorporated in 1964 as the New Directions Publishing Corporation and continues to operate from New York City.


Arranged into the following seven series: Please note that item numbers 4545 and 4745-4747 were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid.

Scope and Contents

The records described here are from James Laughlin's home office in Norfolk, Connecticut. Here Laughlin kept his own papers as well as materials sent to him from the New York City office. For example, when a letter concerning an editorial matter was written in the New York office, a copy would be made for Laughlin's Norfolk files. Additionally, there are memoranda, correspondence, and notes between Laughlin and the members of the staff in the New York office.
Series I: Correspondence, contains correspondence between Laughlin and authors, literary agents, publishers, small presses, university libraries, book dealers, employees of ND, and his personal friends. There is also correspondence between ND authors and members of the staff of New Directions Publishing Corp. including Barbara Epler, Peggy L. Fox, Peter Glassgold, Robert MacGregor, and Griselda Ohannessian, among others. Also included are interoffice communications such as memoranda and notes, correspondence, ephemera and clippings about the correspondent, and, occasionally, photographs. If Laughlin accumulated large amount of secondary material, he created an additional file for his correspondent. These files are found in the Title and subject files series. The International writing subseries is a small section of correspondence with writers, translators, literary agents, printers, publishing companies, and bookstores that Laughlin grouped together by nationality.
Series II: Title and subject files concern authors in general and specific titles published by ND as well as other topics of interest to Laughlin. They contain correspondence, interoffice communication such as memoranda and notes, ephemera and clippings about the person or topic. There is correspondence with other publishing companies, literary agents, printers, scholars studying the author, the author's family, as well as with other authors who are involved with the creation of a New Direction's book, i.e. the translator or the author of an introduction. Title files contain materials relating to the production and/or promotion of the book.
Series III: Compositions, contains poems, essays, book reviews, fiction, drawings, and other works. The majority of the items in this series have been removed from the Correspondence and Title and subject files series. Most of these pieces were not published by New Directions. However, Laughlin often compiled material for New Directions books, and these compilations are included in this series. There are also individual poems, essays, and other works collected by Laughlin in his files that are variants of those published in New Directions books.
Series IV: Business Records, contains records relating to the non-editorial aspects of New Directions. Most of these records concern Laughlin's corporate activities, but often his personal and corporate interests were interconnected; consequently, there are personal financial records here as well.
Series V: Contracts includes contracts between authors and the New Directions Publishing Corporation for books (both published and proposed) as well as for other rights and permissions.
Series VI: Literary Agencies contains correspondence and related material exchanged between New Directions and scholars, publishers, libraries, lawyers, and rights holders concerning copyrights administered by New Directions. Included are applications for use of original material held by libraries; compositions submitted with applications and for publication; interoffice memoranda and notes; legal documents; reviews; clippings; and photographs, slides, transparencies, and negatives.

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