Reviews on File Collection: Literary Clippings 1929 - 1970
This collection comprises book reviews from the morgue of a newspaper clipping service, for the period 1927-1970. An older general business, Hemstreet Press Clippings, had been purchased by Estelle L. Boyd in 1927, and moved out of New York City to Walton, New York. In 1929, the emphasis was changed to book reviews and the name became Literary Clipping Service, offering subscriptions to authors. If an author did not subscribe, or let his subscription lapse, his reviews were nonetheless filed systematically, creating the morgue. At its peak, some 3000 authors subscribed, and over time clippings were filed for more than 18,500 different authors. The current subscription section was sold off in 1960, by Mrs. Boyd's daughter Dorothy Brandt, who continued to add new items to the non-subscription morgue under the name Reviews on File. Mrs. Brandt's estimate of her holdings in 1990 was over 5 million clippings. However, in her 80's, Mrs. Brandt made quite systematic efforts, with some success, to sell off her clippings on more prominent authors to libraries and individual scholars. In 1996, Thomas Cooper Library acquired the remainder of the morgue (some 50 boxes).
The clippings were stored folded in recycled billing envelopes, packed in small candy or shoe boxes, and sorted only by author, not date or work reviewed. By the time of transfer, storage conditions hand led to much of this packing material becoming moldy, and many individual clippings are extremely brittle; in 2004, following review, a decision was made to preserve and re-house only the author-collections that related to the library’s other special collections or to recurrent teaching or research interests. It is worth noting also that the clippings for several major authors for which the library is well-known (including Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Rawlings) either went directly to the author or had been successfully sold off by Mrs. Brandt before the library acquired the balance of the morgue.
The finding list indicates the sixty authors now represented in the collection. Areas of interest include: literature (Nelson Algren, Willa Cather, James Dickey, Robert Lowell, Anne Tyler, Robert Penn Warren); drama (Eugene O’Neill, Thornton Wilder); science fiction and fantasy (Algernon Blackwood, Ray Bradbury, Lord Dunsany, Robert A. Heinlein, J. C. Powys); African-American writers (Arna Bontemps, W.E.B. DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Martin Luther King, LeRoi Jones); and political figures (Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Roosevelt, and Truman–mostly reviews of memoirs or biographies). For some authors, the clippings relate only to a single work or a limited time period (nearly all the Dickey clippings, for instance, relate to Deliverance). The collections have been boxed alphabetically by author, with two boxes for the most widely reviewed authors (Churchill, Maugham), and with two or even three authors grouped in a single box with an internal divider where the clippings were fewer.