Ann Birstein

Table of Contents

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Descriptive summary

Biography

Scope and Contents

Arrangement

Restrictions

Controlled Access Terms

Administrative Information

Series Descriptions and Container list

Series I: Correspondence 1942-2006

Subseries A: Alfred Kazin (1950-1987) 1950-1987

Subseries B: General Correspondence (1942-2006) 1942-2006

Subseries C: Correspondence on Works undated

Series II: Manuscripts 1950-2001

Subseries A: American Children (c. 1979) 1979

Subseries B: Dickie’s List (c. 1972) 1972

Subseries C: The Last of the True Believers (c. 1987) 1987

Subseries D: The Rabbi on 47th Street (c. 1981) 1981

Subseries E: Star of Glass (1950) 1950

Subseries F: Summer Situations (c. 1971) 1971

Subseries G: The Sweet Birds of Gorham (c. 1965) 1965

Subseries H: The Troublemaker (c. 1954) 1954

Subseries I: What I Saw at the Fair (c. 2001) 2001

Subseries J: Short Stories undated

Series III: Notes and Research undated

Series IV: Personal Memorabilia 1940-2005

Series V: Printed Materials 1951-1987

Ann Birstein


Finding aid prepared by Processed by Tara Cuthbert, May 2009, 2nd acquisition by Evelyn Leahy, 2011, edited and approved by Alexandra Dolan-Mescal, 2012. Machine readable finding aid created by Dan Brenner, Spring 2014.

Descriptive summary

Repository: Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Department of Special Collections and Archives
Creator: Birstein, Ann
Title: Ann Birstein Papers
Dates: 1942-2007
Extent: 13.0 Linear feet, 22 Document Boxes, 1 Print Box
Abstract: The papers of Ann Birstein consist chiefly of typescript manuscripts of published fiction and non-fiction works. The collection also includes correspondence, printed matter, photographs, and personal miscellany. The bulk of the correspondence consists of letters and postcards from Birstein’s husband, literary critic Alfred Kazin. Additional correspondence includes letters sent to Birstein from many notable writers, poets, editors, publishers, academics and critics. Correspondents include Hannah Arendt, Dorothy Baker, Saul Bellow, Carl Bode, Marcel Breuer, Mary Ellen Chase, Joan Didion Dunne, Ralph Ellison, Germaine Greer, Erich Heller, David Ignatow, Elizabeth Janeway, Erica Jong, Bernard Malamud, Sophie Tucker, and Elie Wiesel. The collection also includes “fan mail” sent to Birstein throughout her career.
Identification: INST.2014.004
Languages: English

Biography

Ann Birstein was born to immigrant Jewish parents in New York City on May 27th, 1927. Her father, Bernard Birstein was an orthodox rabbi who opened a small synagogue on West 47th Street in Manhattan to Broadway actors. The small synagogue was transformed into what became widely known as “The Actors Temple”, including Milton Berle and Jack Benny among its members. Growing up with the influence of The Actors Temple, Ann Birstein developed many personal contacts with notable Jewish celebrities such as Eddie Cantor and Sophie Tucker.

After graduating from high school Birstein majored in English at Queens College, receiving a B.A., magna cum laude, in 1948. While in attendance at Queens College, Birstein was encouraged by one of her advisors to enter a literary competition sponsored by a publishing house. On the basis of a novel manuscript for which she had written one chapter per week, Birstein was awarded the Dodd Mead Intercollegiate Literary Fellowship. Included in this award was the publishing of her first novel, Star of Glass in 1950. After her graduation from Queens College, Birstein pursued graduate work at Kenyon School of English (1950), in Sorbonne, Paris (1951-1952). Following the release of her first novel, Birstein’s editor introduced her to New York writer and literary critic, Alfred Kazin, with whom she developed a romantic relationship. With this introduction, Birstein found herself thrust into the height of New York’s literary and intellectual circles with literary giants such as Saul Bellow and Ralph Ellison as their most intimate friends.

Birstein married Alfred Kazin in 1952. From the early 1950s through 1970s Birstein and Kazin took various residences in New York, New England and California to pursue Kazin’s university appointments. During this time Birstein was awarded MacDowell Colony fellowships to further work on her writing. Birstein divorced Kazin in 1982, and did not remarry.

Birstein taught creative writing and lectured at Barnard, City College, Columbia University, Hofstra University, SUNY at Albany, The Writers Workshop at University of Iowa, The New School, Queens College and various schools and community centers in the US and abroad. Birstein’s honors include a National Endowment for the Arts grant, Honorary Alumni Member Phi Beta Kappa, Fulbright Fellowship, and Queens College Scholar.

Birstein is the author of nine books including seven works of fiction: Star of Glass (1950), The Troublemaker (1955), The Sweet Birds of Gorham (1966), Summer Situations (1972), Dickie’s List (1973), American Children (1980), The Rabbi on 47th Street (1982), The Last of the True Believers (1988) and What I Saw at the Fair (2003). Her short stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in the New Yorker, McCall's, the New York Times, Book World, Mademoiselle, and Vogue.

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Scope and Contents

The Ann Birstein Papers (1942-2006) comprise the literary and personal papers of Ann Birstein. Correspondence from Alfred Kazin to Birstein documents their relationship, and includes original greeting cards, handwritten and typed letters. The collection also includes correspondence from Birstein and Kazin’s friends and colleagues including authors, editors, writers and journalists, documenting their social and literary life, including anecdotal accounts of notable creative figures. Also included in this collection are multiple drafts of handwritten, typescript and annotated manuscripts; galley proofs, book jackets, and research notes. Personal memorabilia includes Birstein’s teenage diary; appointment book; photographs; and scrapbook pages of newspaper clippings announcing the release of Birstein’s first novel. Some of these newspaper clippings are printed in Yiddish.

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Arrangement

The Ann Birstein Papers are organized in the following series:

Series I: Correspondence
Subseries A: Alfred Kazin
Subseries B: General
Subseries C: Correspondence on Works
Series II: Manuscripts
Subseries A: American Children (c. 1979)
Subseries B: Dickie’s List (c. 1972)
Subseries C: The Last of the True Believers (c.1987)
Subseries D: The Rabbi on 47th Street (c. 1981)
Subseries E: Star of Glass (1950)
Subseries F: Summer Situations (c. 1971)
Subseries G: The Sweet Birds of Gorham (c. 1965)
Subseries H: The Troublemaker (c. 1954)
Subseries I: What I Saw at the Fair (c. 2001)
Subseries J: Short Stories
Series III: Research and Notes
Series IV: Personal Memorabilia
Series V: Printed Materials

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Restrictions

Access

Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.

Copyright

The Ann Birstein Papers are physically owned by the Queens College Libraries. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assignees. The collection is subject to all copyright laws. Queens College assumes no responsibility for the infringement of copyrights held by the original authors, creators, or producers of materials.

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Controlled Access Terms

Birstein, Ann
Jewish women authors--United States.
Jewish women--New York (State)--New York--Intellectual life.
Kazin, Alfred, 1915-1998
Women writers--fiction.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

item, date (if known), box number, folder number, Ann Birstein Papers, Department of Special Collections and Archives, Queens College, City University of New York.

Source

Gift of Ann Birstein, 2007, 2nd acquisition 2011.

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Series Descriptions and Container list

Series I: Correspondence ( 1942-2006 )
Subseries A: Alfred Kazin (1950-1987) ( 1950-1987 )
This series includes letters, telegrams and greeting cards sent while Kazin was in residence at Yaddo, an artists’ community in Saratoga Springs, New York, and Birstein was writer-in-residence at The MacDowell Colony, an artists’ colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Many of Kazin’s letters include personal reflection on his writing process, and comments on mutual friends and colleagues from the literary world. The series also includes correspondence from Kazin while in residence at the American Academy in Rome. This series is arranged chronologically.
October 1950 - December 1950 ( 1950 ) Box-folder 1-1
February 1951 - October 1951 ( 1951 ) Box-folder 1-2
November 1951 - December 1951 ( 1951 ) Box-folder 1-3
January 1952 - June 1952 ( 1952 ) Box-folder 1-4
May 1953 - September 1956 ( 1953-1956 ) Box-folder 1-5
January 1958 - May 1958 ( 1958 ) Box-folder 1-6
May 1959 - June 1965 ( 1959-1965 )
January 1966 - March 1968 ( 1966-1968 ) Box-folder 1-8
May 1968 - August 1971 ( 1968-1971 ) Box-folder 1-9
September 1971 - June 1974 ( 1971-1974 ) Box-folder 1-10
July 1975 - March 1977 ( 1975-1977 ) Box-folder 1-11
April 1978 - July 1987 ( 1978-1987 ) Box-folder 1-12
Undated correspondence from Alfred Kazin ( undated ) Box-folder 1-12
Subseries B: General Correspondence (1942-2006) ( 1942-2006 )
This series includes correspondence sent to Birstein including letters from fiction and non-fiction writers, poets, editors, publishers, academics and critics. Correspondents include Hannah Arendt, Dorothy Baker, Saul Bellow, Carl Bode, Marcel Breuer (sketches), Mary Ellen Chase, Joan Didion Dunne, Ralph Ellison, Germaine Greer, Erich Heller, David Ignatow, Elizabeth Janeway, Erica Jong, Bernard Malamud, Sophie Tucker, and Elie Wiesel. Also includes “fan mail” sent to Birstein throughout her career. The arrangement of this series is alphabetically, then chronologically.
A Box-folder 2-1
Abels, C. Box-folder 2-2
Baker - Bellow Box-folder 2-3
Bickel - Buckman Box-folder 2-4
Canby - Curtin Box-folder 2-5
Danticat - Denker Box-folder 2-6
Diamonstein - Foss Box-folder 2-7
Gardner - Gross Box-folder 2-8
Haggard - Huntley Box-folder 2-9
Ignatow – Jong Box-folder 3-1
Kahn – Lamport Box-folder 3-2
Lanning – Muske Box-folder 3-3
O’Connor – Purdy Box-folder 3-4
Raphael – Rukeyser Box-folder 3-5
Santillana – Stewart Box-folder 3-6
Steegmuller, F. & S.
Steiner – University of Iowa Box-folder 3-8
Weil – Yglisis Box-folder 3-9
Unidentified Correspondences Box-folder 3-10
Drafts of Letters by Birstein Box-folder 3-11
Subseries C: Correspondence on Works ( undated )
Correspondence: American Children ( undated ) Box-folder 22-1
Nona Balakian 3/27/1980 ( 1980 )
Jay Kahn
Bernard Malamud
Harnack
Barbara Gizzuti – Harrison
Dickie’s List Correspondence
Murray Kempton
Dominick Dunne
Ivan Gold
Dzick, Cynthia
Lewis Kronenberger
Myra Appleton
Quotes
Frederic Morton
Ellen Moers
Correspondence: Queens College ( undated ) Box-folder 22-2
Arthur Gregory
Bell Kaufman
Correspondence: Last of the True Believers ( undated ) Box-folder 22-3
Barbara Seaman
Kate Lloyd
Jose Iglesias
Herbert Gold
Susan Brownmiller
Ned Rorem
Professional + Personal Correspondence
Hugh Nissenson
Daphne Merkin
Martha Lear
Juan Micklin Silver
Richard Brickner
Barbara Seaman
Correspondence: Rabbi on 47th Street (I) ( undated ) Box-folder 22-4
Barbara Solomon
Cynthia Orick
Francis Steegmeller
Bell Kaufman
Red Buttons
Ved Menta
Correspondence: Rabbi on 47th Street (II) ( undated ) Box-folder 22-5
Nona Balakian
Correspondence: Star of Glass ( undated ) Box-folder 22-6
Correspondence and Clippings: Summer Situations ( undated ) Box-folder 22-7
Ellen Moers
Mark Schores
Hizzard, Shirley + Franceis Steegmeller
Bernard Malamud
Cynthia Ozick
Jose Iglesais
Walker Percy
Louis Kronenberger
David Godine
Elizabeth Janeway
Business Correspondence, Phyllis Bartlett
Richard Howard
Correspondence: Sweet Birds of Gorham ( undated ) Box-folder 22-8
Bernard Malamud
Francis Steegmuller
Carl Bode
Issac B. Singer
Louis Kronenberger
Louis Kronenberger
Edmond Wilson
Robert Clurman
Howard Baker
Richard Hofstadter
Jules Feiffer
Mark Schores
William Maxwell
Dorothy Baker
Victor Gollancz
Correspondence: The Troublemaker ( undated ) Box-folder 22-9
Mary Ellen Chase
Saul Bellow
William Maxwell
Phyllis Bartlett
James Merrill
Howard M. Jones
Peter Gray
Peter Davison
Nancy Hale
Richard Hostadter
Correspondence: What I Saw at the Fair ( undated ) Box-folder 22-10
Deirdre Bair
James Atlas
Joan Micklin Silver
Rejection Letters
General Correspondence ( undated ) Box-folder 22-11
Cynthia Ozick
Frank MacShane
Ann Malamud
Robert Lifton
Oe Machllis
Mrs. Eliot Porter
Mark Schorer
Mike Stewart (Myron Rubin)
Molly Picon
Grafe Godwin
Red Buttons
Lucinda Franks
Theodore Bikel
Article on Tel Aviv
William Maxwell
Series II: Manuscripts ( 1950-2001 )
The manuscript series includes multiple drafts of handwritten, typescript and annotated manuscripts; galley proofs and book jackets. The series is broken into ten sub-series by manuscript title, arranged alphabetically. The tenth sub-series contains published and unpublished short stories. The editing process of Birstein included stapling passages of text together in new arrangements. All staples used for editing manuscripts have been left as originally found. Birstein’s research and notes for some of the manuscripts can be found in Series III: Research and Notes.
Subseries A: American Children (c. 1979) ( 1979 )
Draft, partial: parts 1-4 Box 41-4
Draft, first complete Box-folder 4-5
Draft, final complete Box-folder 4-6
Draft, first galley proof Box-folder 4-7
Draft, final galley proof Box-folder 4-8
Subseries B: Dickie’s List (c. 1972) ( 1972 )
Draft outline Box-folder 5-1
chapters 1-10 drafts Box 52-10
miscellaneous drafts Box-folder 5-11
Full first drafts Box 512-15
full second draft Box-folder 6-1
full third draft Box-folder 6-2
full fourth draft Box 63-4
full fifth draft Box 65-6
final draft Box 67-8
Subseries C: The Last of the True Believers (c. 1987) ( 1987 )
first draft parts 1-4 Box 71-4
second draft parts 1-2 Box 75-6
third draft parts 1-2 Box 77-8
fourth partial draft Box-folder 7-9
fifth partial draft Box-folder 7-10
sixth partial draft Box-folder 8-1
seventh partial draft Box-folder 8-2
narratives: parts 1-4 Box 83-6
Draft, miscellaneous Box-folder 8-7
first complete draft Box 88-9
second complete draft: part 1 Box-folder 8-10
second complete draft: part 2 Box-folder 9-1
third complete draft Box 92-3
fourth complete draft Box 94-5
fifth complete draft Box 96-7
final draft Box 101-2
galley proof Box-folder 10-3
uncorrected bound proof Box-folder 10-4
master pages Box 105-6
corrected repro dupe Box 107-8
Subseries D: The Rabbi on 47th Street (c. 1981) ( 1981 )
Drafts Box 111-9
Draft 10: part 1 Box-folder 11-10
Draft 10: part 2 Box-folder 12-1
Draft 11 Box 122-3
final draft Box 124-5
galley proof Box-folder 12-6
Uncorrected bound proof Box-folder 12-7
Book jackets Box-folder 12-8
Subseries E: Star of Glass (1950) ( 1950 )
Draft Box 131-2
Subseries F: Summer Situations (c. 1971) ( 1971 )
Draft, “Love in the Dunes” Box-folder 13-3
Draft, “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” Box-folder 13-4
Draft, proof with corrections Box 135-6
Subseries G: The Sweet Birds of Gorham (c. 1965) ( 1965 )
first draft Box-folder 13-7
final draft Box-folder 13-8
Subseries H: The Troublemaker (c. 1954) ( 1954 )
final draft Box-folder 13-9
Subseries I: What I Saw at the Fair (c. 2001) ( 2001 )
Draft 1 Box 141-2
Draft 2 Box 143-4
Draft 3 Box 145-6
final draft Box 147-8
final draft (duplicate) Box 149-10
Advance reading copy Box-folder 14-11
Subseries J: Short Stories ( undated )
Forty-Seventh Street: A Memoir (partial draft) Box-folder 15-1
Forty-Seventh Street: A Memoir (late draft) Box-folder 15-2
Forty-Seventh Street: A Memoir (published copy) Box-folder 15-3
Forty-Seventh Street: A Memoir (radio script) Box-folder 15-4
Stab Me (published in The New Yorker) Box-folder 15-5
The Best for Sidney Box-folder 15-6
Maria Dolorosa Box-folder 15-7
Series III: Notes and Research ( undated )
This series includes notes and research on four of Birstein’s published works: American Children; Dickie’s List; The Last of the True Believers; Summer Situations and The Rabbi on 47th Street. Materials in this series include notes on biographical sources, historical research, interview notes, photographs and clippings. Additional correspondence to Birstein regarding The Rabbi on 47th Street can be found in this series.
American Children: general notes Box 161-3
American Children: Metropolitan College Box-folder 16-4
American Children: Joseph Box-folder 16-5
American Children: character notes Box-folder 16-6
American Children: World Almanac Box-folder 16-7
Dickie’s List: general notes 1 Box 168-9
Dickie's List: book proposal Box 1610-11
Dickie's List: articles, clippings Box-folder 16-12
Dickie's List: Guggenheim application Box-folder 16-13
Dickie's List: MLA conference Box-folder 16-14
The Last of the True Believers: character notes Box-folder 16-15
The Last of the True Believers: general notes Box 1616-17
The Last of the True Believers: Macdowell notes Box-folder 16-18
Summer Situations: notes Box-folder 16-19
The Rabbi on 47th Street: biography sources Box-folder 17-1
The Rabbi on 47th Street: biographical notes Box 172-6
The Rabbi on 47th Street: correspondence, clippings Box-folder 17-7
The Rabbi on 47th Street: notebooks Box-folder 17-8
The Rabbi on 47th Street: notes on outline Box-folder 17-9
The Rabbi on 47th Street: research interviews Box 1710-11
The Rabbi on 47th Street: Atlanta, Georgia Box-folder 18-1
The Rabbi on 47th Street: Temple Ezrath Israel Box-folder 18-2
The Rabbi on 47th Street: Rabbi Tobias Geffen Box-folder 18-3
The Rabbi on 47th Street: Bernard Birstein (photographs) Box-folder 18-4
The Rabbi on 47th Street: Hell's Kitchen, Temple Ezrath Israel Box-folder 18-5
The Rabbi on 47th Street: miscellaneous notes Box-folder 18-6
Burton Dilemma notes Box-folder 18-7
Dickie's List notes Box-folder 18-8
The Star of Glass Box-folder 18-9
Series IV: Personal Memorabilia ( 1940-2005 )
The Personal Memorabilia series includes a range of personal miscellaneous items, including Birstein's teenage diary (1940); appointment book (1950-51); programs; catalogs; photographs and press clippings.
Appointment Book, 1950-51 Box-folder 20-1
Diary, 1940 Box-folder 20-2
Programs: Temple Ezrath Israel (Actor's Temple) Box-folder 20-3
Publishers catalogs Box-folder 20-4
Photographs of Ann Birstein Box-folder 20-5
Press clippings Box-folder 20-6
Dodd Mead Lawsuit Box-folder 20-7
Background Information Box 208-15
Ephemera (pamphlets,newsletters, programs, lists) Box-folder 21-1
Illustrations - Eugene Greenman Box-folder 21-2
Diary: unpublished entries from Alfred Kazin's Journal 1982 Box-folder 21-3
Jewish American Women Writers Box-folder 21-4
Saul Bellow memorabilia - Correspondence, clippings, speeches Box-folder 21-5
School diplomas and yearbooks, personal papers Box-folder 21-6
Personal papers - Kenyon Box-folder 21-7
College papers Box-folder 21-8
PEN (Jane Jordan) Box-folder 21-9
Other courses (Queens College) Box-folder 21-10
Movie Reviews Box-folder 21-11
Uncle Felix and The Bad Boys Box-folder 21-12
Apple Pie and Coffee Box-folder 21-13
Brinker Box-folder 21-14
Binder: teaching notes and literature Box-folder 21-15
Series V: Printed Materials ( 1951-1987 )
This series consists of collected print materials, mostly on Birstein’s works. Included are news clippings, book reviews, and articles written by Birstein.
Clippings and book reviews (I) Box-folder 23-1
Clippings and book reviews (II) Box-folder 23-2
Clippings and book reviews (III) Box-folder 23-3