Reznikoff Materials

Major Collections

The major collections of Reznikoff’s papers are located in Archive for New Poetry in the Mandeville Special Collections at the University of California, San Diego, and The University of Arizona, with other material of interest scattered across several other collections, including ones held at Western Michigan University Special Collections (in Kalamazoo), the American Jewish Archives (in Cincinnati, Ohio), Brandeis University (in Waltham, Massachusetts), Western Reserve Historical Society (in Cleveland, Ohio), and the College of Charleston.

Charles Reznikoff Papers at UCSD

The correspondence, which provides documentation of the literary community of 40s, 50s, and 60s America, as well as providing insights into Reznikoff’s personal life, includes letters from Robert Creeley, David Ignatow, Denise Levertov, George Oppen, John Perlman, Willilam Carlos Williams, and Louis Zukofsky. Also included are the various exchanges between Reznikoff and his numerous publishers. The bulk of the collection consists of Reznikoff’s writings, ranging from original source materials up to finished typescripts, and includes thousands of pages of revisions. Most of the materials in the collection date from the 1940’s to the early 1970’s. The 1989 addition to the Reznikoff papers consists primarily of letters written by Reznikoff to his wife Marie Syrkin between 1928 and 1939. Also included are Reznikoff’s letter of will to his wife dated 1961; letters of condolence to Marie following the poet’s death in 1976; and several miscellaneous correspondences. In addition, Reznikoff’s personal copies (with annotations) of eight of his published works have been included. The 1991 addition to the Reznikoff papers contains personal letters from Reznikoff to Marie Syrkin written in 1930 before their marriage; financial records which detail Reznikoff’s activities between 1947 and 1976; and miscellaneous memorabilia.1From the “Abstract” in UCSD’s finding aid: https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/findingaids/mss0009.html

Finding Aid

The UCSD libraries maintain a detailed finding aid for their Reznikoff materials.

Online Availability

Papers of Charles Reznikoff at the University of Arizona

The papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, poetry, plays, prose, biographical material, and copies of his published works and translations. Published materials by other authors are also present. Some are concerned with Jewish history and stories. Others are poetry books, including ones by Allen Ginsberg, Alfred Kreymborg, and Reznikoff’s wife, Marie Syrkin. Articles, reviews, and one book are about Reznikoff and his work; the book is titled Charles Reznikoff: a Critical Essay, by Milton Hindus. The main correspondent is Albert Lewin, a Hollywood agent and personal friend. The letters, from 1916 to 1945, discuss their own work, as well as their opinions of other contemporary books and plays.2From the “Scope and Content Note” in the University of Arizona’s finding aid.

Finding Aid

Arizona Archives Online maintains a detailed finding aid for the Reznikoff papers.

The Marie Syrkin Papers at The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives

The Marie Syrkin Papers (1915-1989) consist of correspondence and Syrkin’s literary efforts including poetry, a diary, translations, and journal articles. Additional materials include lecture notes and class syllabi from her teaching at Brandeis University, and materials relating to her work with displaced persons in German refugee camps immediately following World War II.3Abstract to the American Jewish Archives’ finding aid.

Charles Reznikoff married Marie Syrkin in 1930. Syrkin, a longtime leader of the Labor Zionist movement in the United States, helped found the Labor Zionist journal Jewish Frontier in 1934 and served as its editor from 1948-1971. In 1950, she joined the faculty at Brandeis University, in 1957 she published Blessed is the Match: The Story of Jewish Resistance, the first English-language account of Jewish resistance to the Nazi regime, and she published a biography of her longtime friend Golda Meir in 1969. Syrkin’s papers, held by the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio, contain several of her letters to Charles Reznikoff written between 1928 and 1936, as well as notes and documentary material related to Holocaust, much of which dates from 1946-1947.

Finding Aid

The American Jewish Archives maintain a detailed finding aid for the Marie Syrkin papers.

Milton Hindus Papers at Robert D. Farber University Archives, Brandeis University

Milton Hindus was one of the founding faculty members of Brandeis University, where he taught for 33 years, retiring in 1981. At Brandeis, he was a colleague and friend of Reznikoff’s wife Marie Syrkin, and Hindus published a critical study of Reznikoff’s work, and edited both a collection of Reznikoff’s letters as well as the Charles Renikoff: Man and Poet volume published by the National Poetry Foundation in 1984. His papers contain correspondence with both Charles Reznikoff and Marie Syrkin, and a large amount of Reznikoff-related material.

Finding Aid

Brandeis University maintains a detailed finding aid for the Milton Hindus Papers.

The Seamus Cooney Black Sparrow Press Collection

The Seamus Cooney Black Sparrow Press Collection is named in honor of Seamus Cooney (1933- ), a Western Michigan University professor emeritus of English. Cooney served as an editor with Black Sparrow Press for many years and it was via his connection with the press that this collection was purchased by Western Michigan University Libraries after the press shut down in 2003. The collection is comprised of the records of the press’s editorial office, plus copies of close to every book the press ever published in all of their various editions. … This finding aid describes the contents of the editorial office records which consist primarily of typescripts for books, editors’ copies of the manuscripts, first proofs, uncorrected page proofs, corrected page proofs, galley proofs, catalogs, screenplays, prospecti and correspondence between the editorial office and authors. … Many of the editors’ copies of manuscripts or proofs contain editorial comments, suggestions and corrections. 

The Black Sparrow Press collection at Western Michigan University Special Collections in Kalamazoo, Michigan contains a large amount of Reznikoff-related material, including correspondence between Reznikoff and Seamus Cooney.

Charles Reznikoff Papers at the Western Reserve Historical Society

The Charles Reznikoff Papers, 1950s, consist of two folders of an unpublished manuscript for a book concerning the history of the Cleveland, Ohio, Jewish community. Lloyd P. Gartner used this manuscript as a source for his book, History of the Jews of Cleveland. This book, published in 1978 by the Western Reserve Historical Society in cooperation with the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, was reprinted in paperback in 1987.

This collection is of value to researchers studying the development of the Cleveland, Ohio, Jewish community. The manuscript covers the period 1837-1900, in three sections: 1837-1845, 1845-1870, and 1870-1900. The footnotes are particularly useful as they often quote entire primary source documents.4From “Scope and Content” section of the Western Reserve Historical Society finding aid.

Finding Aid

OhioLINK maintains a detailed finding aid for the Reznikoff papers in the Western Reserve Historical Society collection.

The Jews of Charleston Manuscript

Reznikoff’s rough draft manuscript for what would be published by the Jewish Publication Society of America in 1950 as The Jews of Charleston: A History of an American Jewish Community is held by the Marlene and Nathan Addlestone library at the College of Charleston and can be viewed in their special collections 5The library record for this manuscript can be found in the College of Charleston’s online catalogue..

 

Literary Executor

The estate of Charles Reznikoff has authorized Black Sparrow Books (an imprint of David R. Godine, publisher) to grant permission for use of archival and manuscript materials, and has “requested that we should do our utmost to smooth the path for scholars.”6Email correspondence with Aaron Kerner, July 27, 2015. It is my understanding that requests to reproduce Reznikoff’s archival and manuscript materials can be directed to Aaron Kerner, the editorial director at David R. Godine/Black Sparrow.

References   [ + ]

1. From the “Abstract” in UCSD’s finding aid: https://library.ucsd.edu/speccoll/findingaids/mss0009.html
2. From the “Scope and Content Note” in the University of Arizona’s finding aid.
3. Abstract to the American Jewish Archives’ finding aid.
4. From “Scope and Content” section of the Western Reserve Historical Society finding aid.
5. The library record for this manuscript can be found in the College of Charleston’s online catalogue.
6. Email correspondence with Aaron Kerner, July 27, 2015.