Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Man holding newspaper. Click to enlarge.

Isaac Bashevis Singer reading a Hebrew newspaper, unidentified photographer, undated.

Jewish Studies

The South African Judaica Collection

These 485 books originally belonged to Jewish refugees who fled war-torn Europe and settled in South Africa. There, the books were preserved as part of the library of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. By the mid-1990s, the Ransom Center was selected by the scholar Joseph Sherman as the new home for the books. Highlights of the collection include early Yiddish works published in the mid-nineteenth century after the modern revival of Yiddish as a literary language; first editions of writings by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808-1888), a major figure in the German neo-Orthodox movement of the mid-nineteenth century; first editions of Theodor Herzl's (1860-1904) diaries; and a beautiful volume of traditional prayers for women, bound in purple velvet.

The Gottesman Collection of Hebraica & Judaica

The Gottesman Collection of Hebraica and Judaica contains ten thousand volumes documenting the Jewish experience over some three thousand years, including several thousand rare books of Hebrew, German, and Yiddish literature and history, dating from the 1880s to the late 1920s; volumes on early Western European Jewish culture, dating from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, including rare first editions; and a large collection of religious books, including Bibles, Mishnas, Talmuds and prayer books, some dating to the sixteenth century.

The Gottesman Collection includes the Horowitz Library, containing thirteen hundred books recording the Jewish experience in literature and history generally from the 1880s to the late 1920s. It also includes the Glanz Library, assembled by the linguist Heinrich Glanz. The subjects range through all aspects of Jewish culture, but especially early Western European history. There are books from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries, including rare imprints; a large collection of Bibles, Mishnas, Talmuds, prayer books, and commentaries; an extensive collection of Hebrew literature and Judaica; and many books in Yiddish.

Manuscripts by Jewish Writers: Major Collections

In addition to their importance as research resources in their own right, the Center's collections of Judaica books also provide a backdrop for the study of the Center's manuscript holdings by Jewish writers. With the acquisition of the archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer in 1993, the Ransom Center achieved international prominence in the field of Jewish letters. Complementing this collection is the archive acquired in 1997 of Bernard Malamud, who counted Singer among his influences.

While the archive of consummate storyteller Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991) contains numerous handwritten Yiddish manuscripts that have never been translated into English, each waiting to be discovered, it also reflects Singer's work on more than four thousand stories, novels, plays, and other writings that were published during his lifetime. The collection spans the most creative decades of his career, from the mid-1930s before he immigrated to America from Poland, until his death in 1991. Containing manuscripts for memoirs, interviews, reviews, and essays, the archive traces their original composition in Yiddish, through publication (primarily in The Jewish Daily Forward), translation into English, and their eventual English-language publication. Additionally, the archive contains Singer's scripts for radio, stage, and screen productions; photographs, such as two "penny arcade" snapshots taken at Coney Island soon after his U.S. arrival; tape recordings; and other memorabilia. Among Singer's extensive correspondence are letters from editors and agents, adoring readers of all ages and nationalities, and such literary peers as Saul Bellow, Henry Miller, and Philip Roth. Accompanying the collection are Singer's Yiddish typewriters, which he credited with literary powers. Since acquiring the Singer papers, the Center has expanded the scope of the archive through such acquisitions as the manuscripts of Singer's translator Elizabeth Shub, research materials for Paul Kresh's biography, files from Singer's publisher (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), and correspondence from his editor Robert Giroux. Additional Singer papers have been given by his heirs, including personal correspondence between the author and his wife Alma Singer, and a wealth of personal photographs. The Singer family has also placed with the archive Singer's Nobel Prize medal, awarded to him for literature in 1978.

The Bernard Malamud (1914-1986) collection is comprised of manuscript notebooks, typescripts, and corrected galleys for all but his earliest works, as well as a career-long correspondence with his agent and other writers. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Malamud drew upon his family background for much of his fiction, and is widely recognized as one of the greatest Jewish-American writers of this century. The Malamud archive contains notebooks, correspondence, and ephemera dating from before the publication of his first novel, The Natural (1952), and throughout his career. Correspondence includes letters from the author to his wife Ann Malamud, between the author and his literary agent Diarmuid Russell, and hundreds of letters from fellow writers. Joining the collection are copies of Malamud's books inscribed to his long-time editor Robert Giroux and much of their correspondence over the years.

The largest personal archive at the Ransom Center is that of Norman Mailer (1923-2007). The archive includes all manuscripts of Mailer's more than 40 books, with the exception of one of the drafts of The Naked and the Dead (1948). For each of Mailer's books, there is a complete range of materials, from hand-written manuscripts to typescripts, galleys and page proofs. For some books, manuscripts are accompanied by research materials and correspondence. Ten thousand Mailer letters, including his wartime letters to his family, personal and business correspondence, and the originals of letters sent to him from American writers, notables and three generations of readers are in the archive. Correspondents include Allen Ginsberg, Lillian Hellman, Aldous Huxley, Truman Capote, Stella Adler, LeRoi Jones, John Lennon and Larry McMurtry.

Playwright, screenwriter, and director David Mamet (b. 1947) is represented by more than 100 boxes of material covering his entire career and containing manuscripts, journals, office and production files, correspondence and multiple drafts for the acclaimed plays American Buffalo (1975) and Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and screenplays The Untouchables (1988), The Spanish Prisoner (1997) and Wag the Dog (1997).

The archive of Leon Uris (1924-2003), the internationally-known author of Battle Cry, Exodus, and Trinity, includes the author's extensive research files; drafts, page proofs, and galleys of his many novels; manuscripts relating to various screen writing and other projects; copies of his published works; and related correspondence. Uris' experience serving as a marine in Guadalcanal and Tarawa during World War II became the source of his best-selling first novel Battle Cry (1953). Published in 1957, Exodus tells the story of the emergence of the Jews from the aftermath of the second World War and the founding of the state of Israel. The Exodus archive contains drafts of the novel, along with research notes taken in Palestine and the final page proofs. Manuscript materials for other books by Uris include Armageddon: A Novel of Berlin (1964), QB VII (1970), and The Haj (1984).

The Commentary Magazine Archive comprises editorial correspondence, administrative files, Contentions newsletter issues, newspaper clippings of Norman Podhoretz's New York Post columns, and a small portion of the proofs, galleys, and original manuscripts submitted for publication. Commentary exercised a significant influence on American culture and politics and played an important role in advancing the careers of a number of influential writers including Bernard Malamud, Philip Roth, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. It published the first English translation of The Diary of Anne Frank (May 1952) and its reviewers helped to bring critical issues and significant publications into the public light. Though often controversial, numerous articles are now considered landmarks of American intellectual history.

Selected Jewish Writers and Cultural Figures

Benjamin Appel (1907-1977): American novelist, author of The Brain Guy (1934), whose papers include manuscripts of fiction and non-fiction, correspondence, diaries, notebooks, and financial papers from 1920 to 1977.

Samuel Nathaniel Behrman (1893-1973): Playwright known for comedy of manners productions in the 1930s and 1940s. The Ransom Center collection contains material relating to his later works, including his biographies of art dealer Joseph Duveen and writer Max Beerbohm. A large collection of correspondence includes letters from actor Charles Boyer and publisher Hamish Hamilton.

Saul Bellow (1915-1990): Nobel Prize laureate, Pulitzer Prize winner, and three-time winner of the National Book Award. His archive includes manuscripts and proofs of Mosby's Memoirs (1968), Seize the Day (1956), and his 1965 National Book Award acceptance speech for Herzog. The collection also has Bellow's correspondence with John Lehmann, Stanley Burnshaw, John Fowles, Pascal Covici, Robie Macauley, and Anne Sexton.

Jane Auer Bowles (1917-1973): Author of the experimental novel Two Serious Ladies (1943), and the play In the Summer House (1954). The collection contains manuscripts and correspondence.

Stanley Burnshaw (1906-2005): Best known as the author of The Seamless Web, a study of poetry in human life. The Burnshaw archive has complete holdings for all his works, including notes, outlines, research materials, typescript drafts, galleys, page proofs, clippings, and correspondence with such literary figures as Edward Dahlberg, James Dickey, Robert Frost, Christina Stead, and Lionel Trilling.

Alfred Chester (1928-1971): Short-story writer and literary critic. Known for his literary criticism in the New York Review of Books, the Partisan Review, and Commentary, as well as his two novels. His papers contain published and unpublished manuscripts, as well as correspondence with writers such as Christopher Isherwood, Alfred Kazin, Carson McCullers, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Lionel Trilling, and Thornton Wilder.

Edward Dahlberg (1900-1977): Known for Because I Was Flesh (1964), a memoir of his youth at a Jewish orphanage in Cleveland. The large collection includes manuscripts relating to fourteen of his seventeen books. The Dahlberg correspondence consists of letters to Kay Boyle, Stanley Burnshaw, Josephine Herbst, William Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955): The Einstein Collection includes a large number of published works by and about the Nobel laureate, as well as unpublished notes for his "Unified Field" theory. Also included are Einstein's correspondence with Gustav Bucky, Pascal Covici, William and Hans Leback, Max Molina, Walter Mayer, Georges Schreiber, and Maurice Solovine. (See also History of Science.)

Morris Ernst (1888-1976), civil rights attorney: The papers include correspondence with prominent Jewish figures such as Albert Einstein and Louis Brandeis, correspondence with or about various Jewish organizations including the Anti-Defamation League, and some debate regarding the establishment of the state of Israel.

Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997): American Beat poet. The collection contains the first appearance of Howl (1956), plus manuscript materials for twelve works by Ginsberg and one hundred fifty works about him, many collected by the poet Peter Orlovsky. A large number of letters feature correspondence with Beat poets and writers Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Jack Kerouac, Peter Orlovsky, and William Burroughs.

Lillian Hellman (1905-1984): Author of The Children's Hour (1934). The Center's large collection contains numerous drafts of Hellman's major plays, original stage and screen adaptations, and her screen adaptations of other authors' work. Hellman's correspondence includes Carson McCullers, Jerome and Peggy Weidman, Maxwell Anderson, and Marc Blitzstein. (See also American Literature.)

Fannie Hurst (1889-1968): American novelist, short story writer, lecturer, commentator, screenwriter, and playwright. Her literary career is well-documented in the collection of manuscripts of novels, short stories, articles, columns, plays, radio scripts, and scenarios. The collection also contains correspondence from associations with which she was affiliated—such as the ACLU, the American Birth Control League, and the American Jewish Congress—as well as from such figures as Theda Bara Brabin, Pearl S. Buck, Theodore Dreiser, Zora Neale Hurston, Greta Garbo, Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Don Marquis.

Dan Jacobson (b. 1929): Short-story writer, novelist, and educator whose works focus on Jewish studies, exiled authors, and South African race relations. The Jacobson papers consist of manuscripts and correspondence with writers Philip Larkin, Mary McCarthy, and Leonard Woolf.

Michael Josselson (1908-1978): Diplomat, author, and founding member and officer of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The Josselson Papers include correspondence, clippings, typescripts, holograph manuscripts, research notes, printed materials, photographs, financial records, personal records, and maps documenting the professional and literary endeavors of Michael Josselson from his early adulthood through his death, and continue up to 1991 with related materials collected after his death. (See also Human Rights Collections.)

Hyman Solomon Kraft (1899-1975): American playwright, screenwriter, and producer. His career is represented by a large collection of playscripts, screen treatments, short stories, articles, professional correspondence and financial records.

Fania Kruger (1893-1977): Poet and short-story writer who immigrated to Texas from Russia. Her collection includes manuscripts of her works, correspondence, clippings, memorabilia, notebooks, photographs, scrapbooks, and sound recordings, ca. 1908-1973. Among Kruger's correspondents were Eleanor Roosevelt and such writers as Langston Hughes, Marianne Moore, and Karl Shapiro.

Arthur Miller (1915-2005): American playwright. The collection represents thirty-four works, including his plays Death of a Salesman (1949) and The Crucible (1953). The collection is a near complete archive of Miller's work from 1935 to 1980. (See also American Literature.)

Jay Neugeboren (b. 1938): This American novelist's papers contain material for his published and unpublished novels, short stories, and essays, as well as screenplays, journals, correspondence, and financial records.

Karl Shapiro (1913-2000): American poet, critic and editor, best known for the war poems in his Pulitzer Prize-winning V-Letter and Other Poems (1944). His archive includes poems, notebooks, studies of Hebrew prose, and a manuscript for a novel. Correspondents include Conrad Aiken, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Bly, Louise Bogan, Kay Boyle, E. E. Cummings, T. S. Eliot, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Robert Frost, Allan Tate, and Robert Penn Warren, among many others.

Daniel Stern (1928-2007): American novelist, short story writer, advertising and media executive, and educator. His papers chiefly consist of manuscripts for his novels, short stories, and other writings, extensive literary and personal correspondence, and other materials pertaining to his career as an author and creative writing professor.

Ron Sukenick (1932-2004): The Center's archive of this American novelist includes correspondence, manuscripts, galleys, literary publications, reviews, and career-related material.

Irving Wallace (1916-1990): Popular American novelist. The collection relates to the early part of his career and includes manuscripts of The Man and The Prize, short stories, correspondence, and materials relating to film adaptations.

Jerome Weidman (1913-1998): Writer known for his candid portraits of Jewish characters. His archive includes manuscripts of his novels, short stories, essays, and plays, including Fiorello! and I Can Get It For You Wholesale. Correspondents include Kay Boyle, Alastair Cooke, Lillian Hellman, Gypsy Rose Lee, W. Somerset Maugham, and Irving Wallace.

Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978): American poet inspired by his study of Kaballistic Judaism. His archive contains manuscript materials for three hundred fourteen separately titled poems, novels, short stories, dramas, works of criticism, essays, reviews, and translations. The collection also has a large quantity of correspondence with Cid Corman, Lorine Niedecker, Edward Dahlberg, and Carl Rakosi.