Scholarly presses are better known for publishing the results of archival research: documentary editions, works of history, sociological studies–all the amazing scholarship that is supported by memory institutions and records repositories. But as cultural institutions with long and storied histories of their own, presses often light upon some pretty amazing archival finds in their working files. During this Archives Awareness Month, we’ve happened on a couple of stories of such recent finds:
* While working on a massive contracts digitization project, Peter Froehlich, Rights & Permissions Manager of Indiana University Press, came across the press’s original contract with one Jorge Luis Borges for the book Borges at Eighty: Conversations. Borges happened to be visiting Bloomington and signed the contract in person; attached was a photo of the occasion featuring the great writer and the Press’s then-editor, now-director Janet Rabinowitch. The Press is now working with the University Archivist to preserve this wonderful history.
* Penn State University Press is working on a reprint of a seminal work on the poetics of Maurice Sendak, by John Cech, originally published in 1996. In the marketing files for the original edition, PSU Press Marketing & Sales Director Tony Sanfilippo found a letter to Sendak about how the press might use some of his illustrations, marked up in Sendak’s handwriting with a personal note to Tony’s predecessor. Perhaps even more appealing to a university press sales director, Sendak also appended an order for a copy of Penn State’s The Photographic Experience! (The story of how the reprint finally came to fruition is also worth reading, so flip over to Tony’s blog for the full tale.)
There have to be hundreds, even thousands, of stories like this–please share some of your favorites in the comments!