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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Am 2077

New Directions Publishing records


Records of the New Directions Publishing Corporation largely from the Norfolk, Connecticut office of the founder, James Laughlin.


  • 1932-2005

Language of Materials

Collection materials are primarily in English with some in Spanish.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

Conditions Governing Use

Images linked to this finding aid are intended for public access and educational use. This material is owned and/or held by the Houghton Library, and is provided solely for the purpose of teaching or individual research. Any other use, including commercial reuse, mounting on other systems, or other forms of redistribution requires the permission of the curator.


344 linear feet (910 boxes and 4 volumes)

The records described here are from James Laughlin's home office in Norfolk, Connecticut. Here Laughlin kept his own papers as well as materials sent to him from the New York City office. For example, when a letter concerning an editorial matter was written in the New York office, a copy would be made for Laughlin's Norfolk files. Additionally, there are memoranda, correspondence, and notes between Laughlin and the members of the staff in the New York office.

Series I: Correspondence, contains correspondence between Laughlin and authors, literary agents, publishers, small presses, university libraries, book dealers, employees of ND, and his personal friends. There is also correspondence between ND authors and members of the staff of New Directions Publishing Corp. including Barbara Epler, Peggy L. Fox, Peter Glassgold, Robert MacGregor, and Griselda Ohannessian, among others. Also included are interoffice communications such as memoranda and notes, correspondence, ephemera and clippings about the correspondent, and, occasionally, photographs. If Laughlin accumulated large amount of secondary material, he created an additional file for his correspondent. These files are found in the Title and subject files series. The International writing subseries is a small section of correspondence with writers, translators, literary agents, printers, publishing companies, and bookstores that Laughlin grouped together by nationality.

Series II: Title and subject files concern authors in general and specific titles published by ND as well as other topics of interest to Laughlin. They contain correspondence, interoffice communication such as memoranda and notes, ephemera and clippings about the person or topic. There is correspondence with other publishing companies, literary agents, printers, scholars studying the author, the author's family, as well as with other authors who are involved with the creation of a New Direction's book, i.e. the translator or the author of an introduction. Title files contain materials relating to the production and/or promotion of the book.

Series III: Compositions, contains poems, essays, book reviews, fiction, drawings, and other works. The majority of the items in this series have been removed from the Correspondence and Title and subject files series. Most of these pieces were not published by New Directions. However, Laughlin often compiled material for New Directions books, and these compilations are included in this series. There are also individual poems, essays, and other works collected by Laughlin in his files that are variants of those published in New Directions books.

Series IV: Business Records, contains records relating to the non-editorial aspects of New Directions. Most of these records concern Laughlin's corporate activities, but often his personal and corporate interests were interconnected; consequently, there are personal financial records here as well.

Series V: Contracts includes contracts between authors and the New Directions Publishing Corporation for books (both published and proposed) as well as for other rights and permissions.

Series VI: Literary Agencies contains correspondence and related material exchanged between New Directions and scholars, publishers, libraries, lawyers, and rights holders concerning copyrights administered by New Directions. Included are applications for use of original material held by libraries; compositions submitted with applications and for publication; interoffice memoranda and notes; legal documents; reviews; clippings; and photographs, slides, transparencies, and negatives.

Biographical / Historical

James Laughlin (1914-1997) began his publishing career as the literary editor of New Democracy, a magazine devoted to the economic theory Social Credit. Here Laughlin published Modern writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams in a section of the magazine entitled "New Directions." In 1936, while in his Junior year at Harvard University, Laughlin gathered the best of these pieces and put them together in the first annual anthology, New Directions in Prose and Poetry. Thus marked the beginning of the New Directions Publishing Company.

New Directions' publishing program focused on poetry, experimental writing, and quality translations of foreign literature, as well as bringing classics back into print. They are the main publisher for Ezra Pound, Tennessee Williams, and William Carlos Williams. Other authors whose work they have published include: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Henry Miller, Thomas Merton, Kenneth Patchen, Kenneth Rexroth, Delmore Schwartz, and Dylan Thomas. The company was incorporated in 1964 as the New Directions Publishing Corporation and continues to operate from New York City.


Arranged into the following seven series:

  1. I. Correspondence
  2. II. Title and subject files
  3. III. Compositions
  4. IV. Business records
  5. A. Business and financial correspondence and other papers
  6. A1. Business files arranged by correspondent
  7. A2. Business files arranged by subject
  8. B. Banking records
  9. C. Corporation minutes, reports, lists, sales materials, etc.
  10. C1. Annual meeting documents
  11. C2. Financial statements
  12. C3. Financial reports
  13. C4. Inventory materials
  14. C5. Sales materials
  15. D. James Laughlin Proprietorship tax-related documents, 1964-1981
  16. E. Robert MacGregor files, 1950-1982
  17. E1. Correspondence between JL and RM
  18. E2. Correspondence of JL with others concerning Robert MacGregor and his estate
  19. E3. Other papers relating to Robert MacGregor
  20. F. Gertrude Huston files, 1967-1979
  21. V. Contracts
  22. VI. Literary agencies
  23. A. Ezra Pound literary agency correspondence
  24. A1. Pound estate correspondence
  25. A2. Correspondence by individual and institutional name
  26. A3. By subject
  27. A4. Correspondence by title: works by, translated by, and about Pound
  28. B. Ezra Pound literary agency secondary files
  29. B1. Letters to and from Pound
  30. B2. Works by Pound
  31. B3. Articles about Pound's work
  32. B4. Biographical works on Pound
  33. B5. Poundiana
  34. B6. Lists
  35. C. William Carlos Williams literary agency correspondence
  36. C1. Williams estate correspondence
  37. C2. Correspondence by individual and institutional name
  38. C3. By subject
  39. C4. By author and title: works by and about Williams
  40. D. William Carlos Williams literary agency secondary files
  41. D1. Letters to and from Williams
  42. D2. Works by Williams
  43. D3. Articles about Williams and his work
  44. D4. Williamsiana
  45. D5. Lists
  46. E. Federico García Lorca literary agency correspondence
  47. E1. García Lorca estate correspondence
  48. E2. Correspondence by individual and institution name, country, title in Spanish, and subject
  49. F. Federico García Lorca literary agency title and translation files
  50. F1. Federico y su mundo (In the green morning)
  51. F1a. Editorial correspondence and documents
  52. F1b. Manuscripts for publication
  53. F1c. Visual materials
  54. F1d. Ephemera
  55. F2. Selected poems of Federico García Lorca
  56. F2a. Correspondence
  57. F2b. Translations
  58. F3. Translations of García Lorca works and compositions by others

Please note that item numbers 4545 and 4745-4747 were inadvertently omitted from this finding aid.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

97M-49. Bequest of James Laughlin IV, 1997; received 1998 Apr. 30.

44NM-2. bMS Am 2077 (881) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Oct.; bequest 1997.

44LM-4F. bMS Am 2077 (4075) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.

44LM-6F. bMS Am 2077 (4096) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.

44LM-5F. bMS Am 2077 (4098) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.

44LM-2F. bMS Am 2077 (4101) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.

44LM-7F. bMS Am 2077 (4102) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1944 Dec. 1; bequest 1997.

70M-39. bMS Am 2077 (4290) Deposited by James Laughlin, 1970 Dec.; bequest 1997.

2000M-54. bMS Am 2077 (1745) Gift of Eliot Weinberger, 2001 April 12. 2006M-12.bMS Am 2077 (1154a), (2021a), (2023a) Gift of William Reese Company; received: 2006 Aug. 16.

2008M-17r. Copies interfiled in bMS Am 2077 (1039) Gift of Elaine Lustig Cohen, 2002 March 20.

2011M-146. bMS Am 2077 (3617a) Gift of New Directions Publishing Corp., 2000 March 27. 99M-50. Deposit by New Directions, 2000. 2003M-7. Gift of New Directions, 2003. 2004M-3. Gift of New Directions, 2005. 2005M-11. Gift of New Directions, 2006.

Related Materials

The personal papers of James Laughlin have been processed separately as MS Am 2077.2. The reader will find that there is still some overlap in content between the various groupings of New Directions material and Laughlin's personal papers, and is advised to check all of the Houghton's holdings of New Directions materials when searching for specific topics. Manuscripts and proofs of New Directions books are described in MS Am 2077.1. Printed matter of New Directions Publishing Corporation such as catalogs, circulars, and ephemera have been described as MS Am 2077.3. New materials will continue to be added, so the reader is advised to also check the HOLLIS catalog. Monographs published by New Directions are listed in the HOLLIS catalog and can be found by searching under author "New Directions Publishing Corp."

Processing Information

Processed by: Jackie Dean, Mary Hammer, Bonnie B. Salt, and Melanie Wisner; with the assistance of Vicki Denby, Kristine Jelstrom-Hamill, Peter Hanlon, Jermaine Hollins, Paul Morel, Michael Newton, and Meghan Schmeltz-Kiel.

New Directions Publishing Corp. New Directions Publishing Corp. records, circa 1932-2005: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
Language of description

Repository Details

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