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RESEARCH HELP > HUMANITIES AND AREA STUDIES > AMERICAN LITERARY STUDIES

American Literary Studies


Allen Ginsberg Papers

The Papers

Location: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Call Number: M0733

Size: ca. 1200 linear feet

Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.

Research Access and Use: Materials in the Department of Special Collections are non-circulating and must be used in the Special Collections' Reading Room in the Cecil H. Green Library. The Reading Room is open 10:00am to 5:00pm Monday through Friday. Photocopies and photographs can be made of some materials in the collections. For more information about the collections and access policies, please contact Special Collections by telephone at (650) 725-1022, by electronic mail at speccollref@stanford.edu or by regular mail at the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, California 94305-6004.


Career of Allen Ginsberg

Irwin Allen Ginberg was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1926 to Louis and Naomi Ginsberg. Originally intending to major at Columbia University in prelaw, Ginsberg changed his major to literature and studied with Mark Van Doren and Lionel Trilling. A larger impact was made on him by his acquaintance with Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Lucien Carr, and Neal Cassidy; a group which was to become known as the "Beat Generation". He took his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1948, remaining in the New York City area until 1953, supporting himself mainly as a market researcher. He left New York City in December 1953 to follow Neal Cassady, who had married and moved to San Jose, California. In San Francisco, Ginsberg became part of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance, a literary circle including Kenneth Rexroth, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Robert Duncan, and Philip Whalen. In October 1955, Rexroth hosted a poetry reading in which Snyder, McClure, Whalen, Lamantia, and Ginsberg participated.in a poetry reading at the Six Gallery in San Francisco premiering his newly written poem "Howl." From the 1950's on, Ginsberg based himself in Manhattan's Lower East Side, where he rented a tenement until 1996. There he wrote the first two parts of "Kaddish to Naomi Ginsberg (1894-1956)", published in Kaddish and Other Poems (City Lights, 1961). He travelled extensively in Euope during this time and produced Planet News : 1961-1967 (City Lights, 1968), based on his experiences abroad. The following collection The Fall of America : Poems of These States, 1965-1971(City Lights, 1973) won the National Book Award. In 1974, Ginsberg helped to found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics of the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado, a Buddhist university where he continued to teach courses in poetry and Buddhist meditation until his death. In 1974 he was also inducted into the American Institute of Arts and Letters. After publishing his books for years with small alternative-press houses, Ginsberg signed a $160,000 contract with Harper & Row for six books. The first was Collected Poems, 1947-1980 (1984) followed by White Shroud (1986) which brought together the poems that Ginsberg wrote between 1980 and 1985, and Cosmopolitan Greetings (1994). Ginsberg's books of prose include Indian Journals (1970), Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness (McGraw-Hill, 1974), Journals : Early Fifties-Early Sixties (Grove, 1977), both edited by Gordon Ball. His longtime interest in the visual arts - especially photography, a practice encouraged by his friend Robert Frank - have now been collected in two books, Photographs (1991) and Snapshot Poetics (1993). Ginsberg's photographs were also represented in a groundbreaking exhibit organized in 1995 by the Whitney Museum of Art, "Beat Culture and the New America: 1950 - 1965." Ginsberg was a visiting professor at Columbia University in 1986-87, and he taught at Brooklyn College from the fall of 1987 until his death. Allen Ginsberg died at the age of 70 on April 6, 1997 of a heart attack.

Highlights and Research Potential of the Ginsberg Papers

The collection contains Ginsberg's personal papers through 1997, including literary manuscripts, journals, correspondence, photographs, and tape recordings as well as his library.

The papers are arranged in 19 series:

Series 1: Correspondence, 1942-1994

Series 2. Notebooks and journals

Series 3. Manuscripts

Series 4. Business Records

Series 5. Financial Records

Series 6. Committe on Poetry Records

Series 7. Teaching Materials

Series 8. Political files

Series 9. Religious materials

Series 10. Photographs

Series 11. Audiovisual recordings

Series 12. Computer files

Series 13. Periodicals

Series 14. Clipping files

Series 15. Memorabilia

Series 16. Posters

Series 17. Printed ephemera

Series 18. Artwork

Series 19. Music

Photographs by and relating to Allen Ginsberg

Location: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Call Number: M1310

Size: 26 linear feet (88,000 images)

Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.

The massive Ginsberg Photographic Archive consists of approximately 88,000 images, dating from the 1930s until 1997. 78,000 of these are from Ginsberg's hand, either shot or set up by him, and are represented in the archive by all of the original negatives, a full set of contact prints, and numerous enlargements. The remaining 10,000 images, taken by others, document the contemporary scene from the 1950s until the 1990s. The Photographic Archive is made up almost exclusively of portraits, both formal and informal, single-subject and group images. It not only provides an exhaustive visual portrait of Ginsberg's family, personal, and artistic life, but also offers extensive documentation of the wider international scene -- social, political, and cultural. The collection is especially valuable for its coverage of other writers, visual artists, musicians and cultural figures.

Allen Ginsberg Film and Video Archive

Location: Department of Special Collections, Green Library

Call Number: M1245

Size: 12 linear feet (154 films and videos in 16 video boxes)

Finding Guide: A printed version is available in the reading room of the Department of Special Collections. Electronic versions of this finding guide are also available. If you have Microsoft's Internet Explorer version 6.0 or higher, click here to connect to the XML version on the Stanford server; if not, click here for the html version on the Online Archives of California server.

This collection of 154 VHS tapes about the life and career of Allen Ginsberg was assembled by the filmmaker Jerry Aronson in the process of producing his prize-winning documentary, Allen Ginsberg, His Life and Times (1997). More than 80% of this original material is unreleased and exists uniquely in this archive. In addition to covering various public appearances and performances by Ginsberg, Aronson also conducted private interviews with Ginsberg himself as well with members of his family, his friends, and such notable colleagues as Joan Baez, Amiri Baraka, Philip Glass, Ken Kesey, Michael McClure, Patti Smith, and Andy Warhol.

Bibliography of Allen Ginsberg

  • Morgan, Bill. The Works of Allen Ginsberg, 1941-1994. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1995. Z8342.5.M67 1995
  • _________. The Response to Allen Ginsberg, 1926-1994 : A Bibliography of Secondary Sources. Westport, Conn. : Greenwood Press, 1996. Z8342.5.M66 1996
  • Kraus, Michelle P. Allen Ginsberg, An annotated Bibliography, 1969-1977. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1980. Z8342.5.K7
  • Dowden, George. A Bibliography of Works by Allen Ginsberg, October, 1943 to July 1, 1967. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1971. Z8342.5.D65

Selected Biography and Criticism

  • Schumacher, Michael. Dharma Lion : A Biography of Allen Ginsberg. New York : St. Martin's Press, 1992
  • Miles, Barry. Ginsberg : A Biography. New York : Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Related Manuscript Collections at Stanford

Gregory Corso Papers

Irving Rosenthal Papers

 

 

 

Last modified: July 17, 2008

     
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