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MC 857

Haskell, Molly. Papers of Molly Haskell, 1892-2016 (inclusive), 1970-2010 (bulk): A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: MC 857
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Haskell, Molly
Title: Papers of Molly Haskell, 1892-2016 (inclusive), 1970-2010 (bulk)
Date(s): 1892-2016
Date(s): 1970-2010
Quantity: 18.3 linear feet (41 file boxes, 2 half file boxes, 1 folio box) plus 1 folio folder, 2 folio+ folders, 1 supersize folder, 6 photograph folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder.)
Language of materials: Materials in English or French.
Abstract: Movie reviews, articles, essays, book reviews, manuscript drafts, correspondence, diaries, and photographs of feminist film critic Molly Haskell.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 2015-M53, 2015-M62
The papers of Molly Haskell were acquired from Molly Haskell in April 2015.

Processing Information:

Processed: June 2016
By: Susan Earle, with assistance from Margaret Dalton.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Most of the collection is open for research.
Folders #8.1-22.6 are closed until March 16, 2020.
Folders #31.8-32.1 are closed until January 1, 2030.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Molly Haskell is retained by her during her lifetime. Upon her death, copyright will transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Molly Haskell Papers, 1892-2016; item description, dates. MC 857, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Donors: Molly Haskell
Accession number: 2015-M53
Processed by: Susan Earle
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection (pending review by curator)


Feminist film critic and author Dorothy Clark "Molly" Haskell was born in 1939 in Charlotte, North Carolina, the oldest child of John Cheves Haskell Sr.and Mary Clark Haskell. Her mother had studied painting at the Art Students' League in New York before marrying and later exhibited her work in Virginia and Florida. Haskell's father worked in the real estate business, eventually running his own realty mortgage company. In 1948 the family purchased a farm outside Richmond, Virginia. John Cheves Haskell Sr. died in 1957, and his widow married John Payton in 1959; this marriage ended in divorce after a few years. Haskell's younger brother, John Cheves Haskell Jr., transitioned in the mid-2000s and became known as Ellen Hampton.
Haskell graduated from Sweet Briar College in 1961 after spending her junior year at Westfield College at the University of London. She studied at the Sorbonne in Paris before moving to New York City in 1962. Her first job there was in the advertising and public relations department of UNIversal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC), one of the eight major computer companies then in existence. In the mid 1960s, she worked for the French Film Office, serving as an interpreter when directors came to the United States for the openings of their films and also writing a newsletter about French films. Around this time she also began writing theater and movie reviews for the Village Voice. She later wrote a column, "Hers," for the New York Times, and reviews and essays on film for New York, Playgirl, The Ladies' Home Journal, Vogue, and Ms., as well as for many other magazines and newspapers. In 1969 she married fellow film critic and champion of the auteur theory of film making Andrew Sarris. Sarris, who wrote for The Village Voice and the New York Observer, died in 2012.
In 1974 Haskell wrote From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies, one of the first books to study the depiction of women in films. This book, which drew major attention at the time of its release, was revised and reissued in 1989 and then again in 2016. Later books by Haskell include Love and Other Infectious Diseases: A Memoir (1990), the chronicle of a mysterious and severe illness her husband suffered; Holding My Own in No Man's Land: Women and Men and Films and Feminists (1997), a collection of articles on film and interviews with actors; Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited (2009); and My Brother, My Sister: Story of a Transformation (2013), an account of her brother's transitioning and Haskell's evolving feelings about this; and, in 2017, Steven Spielberg: a Life in Films, for Yale University Press's Jewish Lives series.
Haskell has served as a visiting lecturer and as an adjunct or associate professor at Bennington College, Barnard College, Sarah Lawrence College, and Columbia University. She has lectured widely on topics related to film, sometimes appearing with Andrew Sarris. She was the artistic director of the Sarasota Film Festival from 1988 to 1995, and has served as a jury member at the Sundance Film Festival and as a member of the nominating committee for the American Film Institute. In 2006 she served as co-host with Robert Osborne for Turner Classic Movies' weekly film show case "The Essentials." She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2010 and has been recognized for her achievements in film criticism by the National Board of Review, the Center National de la Cinematographie, and the Athena Film Festival. As of 2015, Haskell is living in New York City.


The collection is arranged in four series:


This collection documents Haskell's personal and professional life and includes appointment books; diaries covering Haskell's life from 1959 to 2015; articles on Haskell and interviews of her; schoolwork; correspondence with family, friends, and professional associates; dismantled scrapbooks; movie reviews, interviews with and articles about actors and directors; reviews and other material related to Haskell's books; speeches and lecture materials, including for classes Haskell taught at Columbia University and other schools; and photographs. Some material related to Haskell's husband, Andrew Sarris, and members of the extended Haskell family is also included. The bulk of the folder headings were created by Haskell; those created by the archivist appear in square brackets.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1892-2016 (#1.1-22.6), consists of Haskell's journals, appointment books, articles and other biographical information about Haskell, schoolwork, and Haskell family papers. It is arranged in the two subseries described below.
Subseries A, Biographical and personal, 1892-2016 (#1.1-7.19), includes appointment books; Haskell's baby book; articles about Haskell and interviews with her and Sarris; and schoolwork including grades and college papers. Also included is a dismantled scrapbook documenting Haskell's social debut and a theatrical production in which she appeared. The series also contains material related to other members of Haskell's family; this includes correspondence between John Cheves Haskell Sr. and Mary Clark Haskell, including the period when John was stationed at a camp in Alabama during World War II. The series also includes a Haskell Family genealogy, material related to shows of Mary Clark Haskell's paintings, and condolence letters upon her death. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Journals, 1959?-2015 (#8.1-22.6), consists of Haskell's journals, in which she discusses such topics as her professional projects, her relationship with her husband and with other romantic partners, therapy sessions and her feelings about her analyst, feelings of depression and inadequacy in various areas of her life, and her mother's illness and death. The subseries is arranged with chronologically arranged journals followed by a chronological run of folders of typed journal entries, some of which may duplicate entries in the journals. The subseries is closed until March 16, 2020.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1944-2015 (#23.1-26.3), consists primarily of letters received by Haskell. Correspondents include boyfriends and male admirers; other friends; her parents, Mary Clark Haskell and John Cheves Haskell Sr.; brother, John Cheves Haskell Jr. (later known as Ellen Hampton); relatives; and professional acquaintances. Haskell's early letters to her mother provide a detailed look at her experiences while studying at the University of London, while early letters from friends mainly discuss school and social life. The series also includes "thank you" letters she received from actors including John Wayne, Burt Reynolds, and Carol Burnett, after writing articles about them; correspondence related to speaking engagements and writing assignments; Haskell's thoughts on books by others; and letters about daily life events. Also included are letters responding to the "Hers" column she wrote for the New York Times, with many corespondents expressing strong reactions to the view of male/female relationships that Haskell presented in her columns. Haskell's responses to these letters are also included. The series is arranged with alphabetical correspondence appearing first, followed by chronological correspondence.
Series II, PROFESSIONAL, 1957-2015 (#26.4-43.6), includes readers' reports; publicity; reviews; correspondence with publishers and editors; manuscript drafts; and research materials for Haskell's published books as well as for an unpublished memoir about her relationship with her mother. The material for My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation also includes segments of an interview Haskell conducted with Ellen Hampton and Haskell's journal entries reflecting her thoughts about her brother's decision to transition. The series also includes Haskell's movie reviews and articles. Haskell's writings primarily focus on movies, directors, and actors, with a particular emphasis on the way women, romance, and the work/life balance are depicted in film, but some other topics are also covered. Of particular note are the article on rape fantasies she wrote for Ms. and the "Hers" column she wrote for the New York Times. In the "Hers" column, Haskell reflected on male/female roles and relationships in movies and everyday life, often drawing on her relationship with Andrew Sarris. Haskell was frequently asked to speak at film screenings, at panel discussions, and at film festivals, and the series includes some of these speeches, as well as related publicity, correspondence, and notes. Haskell's early professional work is represented by a dismantled scrapbook of her theater reviews; newsletters and press releases she wrote for the French Film Office; and press releases and speeches she wrote for UNIversal Automatic Computer. Other material includes syllabi, course outlines, and lecture notes for classes Haskell taught at Columbia University and other colleges; plays, screenplays, and fiction by Haskell; notes and writings on movies, actors, and directors; and writings by Andrew Sarris. Also included are correspondence (including fan mail) and lists of films related to Haskell's involvement with Turner Classic Movies' program "The Essentials." The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS AND OVERSIZED, 1916-ca.2010 (#PD.1-PD.7, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.2, 44FB.1v, SD.1), includes images of Haskell as a child and adult, alone and with family members (including her parents, brother, and husband), camp and class mates, friends, and professional associates. Photographs of her wedding to Andrew Sarris are included, as are images of Haskell with notable figures in the literary and film worlds, including directors François Truffaut, Michael Powell, and Martin Scorsese, and authors Joyce Carol Oates and Walter Mosley. The series also includes an oversized scrapbook documenting Haskell's summers at Camp Glenlaurel, a scrapbook compiled for her by her colleagues at UNIversal Automatic Computer, and a poster for a film festival at which she was speaking. The photographs, arranged chronologically, are listed first, followed by the chronologically arranged oversized items.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Container List

Additional Index Terms

Authors, American
Baby books
Brothers and sisters
Camping--United States
College teachers--United States
Debutantes--United States
Feminism and motion pictures
Feminist film criticism
Film criticism
Film critics
Film noir
Manuscripts for publication
Mothers and daughters
Motion picture actors and actresses
Motion picture producers and directors
Motion picture reviews
Reviews (document genre)
Transgender people--Identity
Women film critics
Women in motion pictures
Women journalists
Women motion picture producers and directors
Bainbridge, John, 1913-1992
Gray, Francine du Plessix
Gill, Brendan, 1914-1997
Sarris, Andrew