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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 650

Additional papers of Eve Merriam, ca.1930-1992

Correspondence, draft and published writings, royalty statements, journals, notebooks, publicity materials, etc., of Eve Merriam, poet, playwright, director, lyricist, and feminist.

Dates

  • 1930-1992

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Eve Merriam is held by her sons, Dee Michel and Guy Michel. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Extent

22.31 linear feet ((53 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 4 folio + folders, 1 oversized folder, 1 supersized folder, 13 photograph folders.)

The additional papers of Eve Merriam consist of draft and published writings (including scripts, lyrics, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, reviews, etc.), correspondence, journals, address books, notebooks, teaching materials, reviews and publicity, materials regarding public appearances and lectures, etc. Merriam maintained an active correspondence with a number of writers, directors, producers, and other intellectuals throughout her life whose names are listed as added entries. Correspondence from these individuals is located throughout the collection. Audiovisual materials have been removed to form a separate collection; see Eve Merriam Audiovisual collection, 1964-1992 (T-72, Vt-184). Finding aids for earlier collections of her papers received between 1978 and 1984 are available online (78-M146 - 78-M151; 84-M79). There is some overlap among the groups of papers. Notably absent from Merriam's papers is her work on children's literature which are a part of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota Libraries (CLRC-56).

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1935-1992 (#1.1-14.12, 54.1-54.9, PD.1-PD.3), includes account books and a small amount of financial material; address books; appointment books; correspondence; journals; notebooks; clippings; travel itineraries; material regarding boards, committees, etc., on which Merriam worked; and biographical material about Waldo Salt, as well as papers regarding their separation. Address books contain both personal and professional contacts, and her appointment books contain notations regarding both professional and personal meetings. Journal entries are often undated and contain voluminous references to Merriam's dreams (see also #33.4-33.8, Casual Astonishments), as well as entries regarding travel, personal thoughts, fragments of poems, and other writings in progress, etc. Notebooks generally include undated work on poems in progress and what appear to be research notes, ideas for writing, and notes regarding workshops and appearances. Biographical material consists mainly of clippings, short biographical sketches, resumes, medical information, etc. Correspondence is both personal and professional in nature, much of it regarding Merriam's writing, including commentary by friends and professional contacts; acceptance and rejection letters; poetry received from other poets; requests for appearances at conferences, book signings, and other events; fan letters, etc. Of particular note is her correspondence with Carl Marzani, who published several of her books of poetry and with whom she engaged in an affair in the 1950s (see also #41.4-41.7), her unusual correspondence with her fourth husband, Waldo Salt, which often consisted of a single sketch or word (see also #41.8-41.9), and her correspondence with close friend and historian Gerda Lerner. Other correspondents include fellow authors, poets, and playwrights Adele Bowers, Ruth Whitman, John Ciardi, Edmund Pennant, Peter DeVries, Judith Thurman, Carey McWilliams, and William Dickey; directors, producers, etc., Arthur Laurents, Leland Hayward, Tommy Tune, and Stephen Sondheim; and other people of note including Coretta Scott King, Frances Lear, W.E.B. DuBois, and Dolores Hayden. Additional correspondence with the same authors is located throughout the collection. See Series II (Writings), which contains correspondence regarding specific plays, individual poems and books of poetry, and other writing, as well as drafts and other writing-related material and Series III (Teaching materials, lectures, and appearances), which contains correspondence from students and school administration as well as correspondence regarding various lectures and appearances. The series is arranged alphabetically; most original folder titles were retained.

Series II, WRITING, ca.1930-1992 (#14.3-50.9, PD.4-PD.11), consists of draft, unpublished and published plays and works for film, poetry, reviews, fiction, non-fiction, and other works by Merriam, and includes a variety of related papers. In most instances the sequence of drafts is not recorded. It is arranged in three subseries. See also Series I (Biographical and personal) for correspondence, journals, notebooks, etc., also related to her writing.

Subseries A, Plays, film, etc., 1941-1991 (#14.3-32.9, PD.4-PD.8), contains draft, unpublished, and published plays and works for film; correspondence; publicity and reviews; contracts and royalty statements; rehearsal schedules and criticism; cast contact lists, stage directions, and scripts; photographs; notebooks; and lyrics and music scores. Titles for plays and works for film include Merriam's three most well-known works in this arena, The Club, Inner City, and Out of Our Father's House, and some of her lesser known works such as Viva Reviva, And I Ain't Finished Yet, and We, the Women, as well as a number of smaller productions and unfinished works. Correspondence in this subseries regards finances for productions, changes in scripts, scores, and stage direction, etc., international requests for permission from theater groups to stage Merriam's plays, and also includes letters from friends and fans commenting on productions. Merriam wrote the lyrics for her plays in this subseries with most music composed by collaborators including Helen Miller and Gary Bagley. Other lyrics were set to previously published music. Photographs in this series consist of production stills of various performances, actors' head shots, and several unstaged events. Pages of wirebound notebooks were numbered and the notebooks disbound. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title; original folder headings were retained.

Subseries B, Poetry, ca.1930-1992 (#32.10-43.14, PD.9-PD.10), consists of draft, unpublished, and published individual poems, as well as collections of poetry prepared for volumes; correspondence; annotated galley proofs and notes; press lists for complimentary book distribution; reviews and publicity; contracts and royalty statements; notebooks; etc. Correspondence in this subseries generally regards submissions, acceptances and rejections, criticisms and praise for both published and unpublished works, requests for specific types of poems for publication, requests to appear at book signings, etc. Correspondents of note in this subseries include W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Gerda Lerner. Titles represented in this subseries include some of her more prominent and controversial collections of poems: The Nixon Poems and the Inner City Mother Goose. Poorly documented in this subseries are her first collection of poems, Family Circle, and her collection of poems on racial prejudice, Montgomery, Alabama, Money, Mississippi, and Other Places. Also represented in this subseries are drafts of individual poems, proposed anthologies of Merriam's poetry, and anthologies including other authors, both published and unpublished. Pages of wirebound notebooks were numbered and the notebooks disbound. The subseries is arranged alphabetically; original folder titles were retained.

Subseries C, Other writings, 1942-1990 (#44.1-50.9, PD.11), includes draft, unpublished, and published reviews, works of fiction and non-fiction, books of quotations and word play; feminist works, lyrics, and a board game; correspondence; reviews and publicity; contracts and royalty statements; notebooks; etc. Most notable among her feminist works included in this subseries are After Nora Slammed the Door; Growing Up Female in America; an unpublished biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton; and an unpublished work of fiction entitled Down the Manhole, which appears to deal with the same topics and include many of the same characters as her off-Broadway play Viva Reviva. Many of Merriam's non-fiction articles included in this subseries, as well her book Figleaf: The Business of Being in Fashion, relate to women's dress and fashion. Also included is Pandora's Box, a feminist game proposed as both a board game and television game show by Merriam and friends Lois Gould and Carol Rinzler that appears to have been rejected and never produced. Correspondence in this subseries generally regards submissions, acceptances and rejections, criticisms and praise for both published and unpublished works, requests to appear at book signings, etc. Lyrics generally consist of works in progress and were never set to music, although a few published lyrics are also included such as the lyrics to "July Tree," which was recorded by Nina Simone. Pages of wirebound notebooks were numbered and the notebooks disbound. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title; most original folder headings were retained.

Series III, TEACHING MATERIALS, LECTURES, AND APPEARANCES, 1964-1989 (#50.10-53.7), consists of class lists, course outlines, notes regarding students, class assignments, student work, teaching notes, correspondence, clippings, flyers, pamphlets, etc. The bulk of material in this series documents Merriam's time as an instructor in various forms of writing (e.g., creative writing, playwriting, poetry) at the City University of New York in the 1960s and New York University in the 1980s, but also includes material related to various lectures, conferences, book signings, etc. Correspondence in this series includes correspondence between Merriam and students, with school administrators, and with planners of lectures, conferences, book signings, etc., regarding engagements. Transferred from this series to Series II, Subseries C (Other writings), was Merriam's article entitled If You're Black Step Back, If You're White Alright No More, regarding the 1969 student strike at the City University of New York. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by course title, with "Lectures, appearances, and related" (arranged chronologically) and "Other teaching materials" also falling within the alphabetical arrangement. Most original folder titles were retained.

Series IV, PHOTOGRAPHS AND OVERSIZED, 1952-1985 (#PD.12-PD.13sl, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.4, OD.1, SD.1), consists mainly of publicity shots of Merriam used for promoting books and speaking engagements, photographs of family members, and oversized material removed from other series.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].

BIOGRAPHY

Eve Merriam was born Eva Moscovitz in 1916 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She attended Cornell University, transferring after two years to receive her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1937. She continued her education at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University. She was first married to Erwin Edwin Spitzer in 1939. This marriage ended in divorce. In 1947 she married Martin Philip Michel. The couple had two sons, Guy Michel and Dee Michel, and divorced in 1960. During her marriage to Michel it appears Merriam engaged in an affair with Carl Marzani, left-wing political activist turned publisher. In 1963, Merriam married writer Leonard C. Lewin, author of the best seller, Report from Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace. This marriage also ended in divorce in 1980. Following the divorce, Merriam began a relationship with screen writer Waldo Salt. The couple married in 1983, but separated in 1985, maintaining separate residences: Merriam in New York and Salt in California. It appears that the couple continued a romantic relationship after their separation, having kept up an amorous correspondence until Salt's death in 1987.

Early in her career, Merriam worked as a copy writer, fashion editor of Glamour, and conducted a weekly radio show about poetry on WQXR, New York. Her first book of verse, Family Circle, was awarded the Yale Younger Poets Prize. Other books of poetry include The Nixon Poems, The Double Bed, and The Inner City Mother Goose. Although primarily a poet, Merriam was also a playwright, teacher, and lecturer, particularly on the subjects of education, the status of women, and poetry. She wrote satire, fiction, children's books, biographies (including one of Emma Lazarus), and the precedent-setting After Nora Slammed the Door, one of the early works of second-wave feminist writing. She read her poems on radio, television, in films, and in the theater; and her writings appeared in periodicals abroad and in the New York Times, the Nation, the New Republic, and the Ladies' Home Journal, as well as in many anthologies. Several of her plays were produced both on and off Broadway, including Viva Reviva, The Club, and Inner City (based on her book of poetry The Inner City Mother Goose), renamed Street Dreams in a 1989 revival. Her play Out of Our Father's House, which portrayed prominent American women such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, was performed at the White House in 1978 and on public television's Great Performances. For several years in the 1960s she taught writing at the City College of New York, and in the 1980s for several years at New York University. Merriam received numerous awards, including the Colliers Star Fiction Award, a CBS grant to write poetic drama for television, the National Council of Teachers Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children, and the Obie Award (1977). She also served as a board or committee member of a number of organizations, including the Dramatists Guild, the Authors League of America, and Very Special Arts, and was a member of the nominating committee for the Tony Awards. Merriam died of cancer in 1992.

ARRANGEMENT

The collection is arranged in four series:
  1. Series I. Biographical and personal, 1935-1992 (#1.1-14.12, 54.1-54.9, PD.1-PD.3)
  2. Series II. Writing, ca.1930-1992 (#14.3-50.9, PD.4-PD.11)
  3. ___Subseries A. Plays, film, etc., 1941-1992 (#14.3-32.9, PD.4-PD.8)
  4. ___Subseries B. Poetry, ca.1930-1992 (#32.10-43.14, PD.9-PD.10)
  5. ___Subseries C. Other writing, 1941-1992 (#44.1-50.9, PD.11)
  6. Series III. Teaching materials, lectures, and appearances, 1962-1991 (#50.10-53.7)
  7. Series IV, Photographs and oversized, 1952-1985 (#PD.12-PD.13sl, FD.1, F+D.1-F+D.4, OD.1, SD.1)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 92-M89, 92-M180, 92-M192, 96-M170, 2010-M223

The additional papers of Eve Merriam were given to the Schlesinger Library by her sons, Dee Michel and Guy Michel, between 1992 and 2010.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Eve Merriam, 1840-1978 (inclusive) 1930-1978 (bulk) (78-M146 - 78-M151, Additional papers of Eve Merriam, 1960-1984 (inclusive) 1978-1984 (bulk) 84-M79), and Eve Merriam Audiovisual collection, 1964-1992 (T-72, Vt-184).
SEPARATION RECORD Donors: Dee Michel and Guy Michel

Accession numbers: 92-M89, 92-M180, 92-M192, 96-M170

Processed by: Mark Vassar

The following items have been removed from the collection:
SEPARATION RECORD
  1. The following volumes of published plays, poetry, and non-fiction have been removed from the collection and added to the Schlesinger Library book collection: And I Ain't Finished Yet; At Her Age; The Club; Dialogue for Lovers; Out of Our Father's House; Family Circle; The Trouble with Love; Montgomery, Alabama, Money, Mississippi and Other Places; Basics: An I-Can-Read Book for Grownups; Tomorrow Morning; The Inner City Mother Goose; Emma Lazarus: Woman with a Torch.
  2. Audiotapes were removed to form their own collection, T-72.
  3. Videotapes were removed to form their own collection, Vt-184.

Processing Information

Processed: October 2010

By: Mark Vassar
Link to catalog
Title
Merriam, Eve, 1916-1992. Additional papers of Eve Merriam, ca.1930-1992: A Finding Aid
Author
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
EAD ID
sch01312

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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