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   André Schiffrin papers, 1944-2014

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Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); André Schiffrin Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

COinS Metadata available (e.g., for Zotero).

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1748
Bib ID:11359744 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Schiffrin, André
Title:André Schiffrin papers, 1944-2014
Physical description:10.5 linear ft. ( 19 document boxes and 2 flat boxes)
Language(s):English , with some correspondence in French . In addition to English, the press clippings are in the following languages: Chinese , French, German , Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Russian, Swedish, Spanish.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. This collection has no restrictions.  More information »



This collection is arranged in three series and several subseries.

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Scope and Content

The collection consists of a wide range of material from early Pantheon papers (1944-1963) pertaining to the presence of Jacques Schiffrin and Helen and Kurt Wolff, including correspondence, business files, manuscripts and proofs, book covers, and media clippings. Later papers include correspondence and business files from André Schiffrin's time at Pantheon, followed by press clippings and correspondence regarding his forced removal, his launch of New Press, books he published, and finally personal papers that include notebooks, travel diaries and journals, along with his articles in various publications and miscellaneous press that he'd collected for personal interest.

With the exception of the majority of the correspondence, the collection was not organized; thus the organization evident in this collection has been imposed by the processor of the collection.

Series I.: Correspondence Files, 1944-2010

Pantheon correspondence, i.e. 1944-1962, including letters of Kurt and Hellen Wolff (original owners of Pantheon before they sold it to Random House) and Jacques Schiffrin, followed by André Schiffrin’s correspondence at Pantheon until 1990 and shortly after his removal, including in-house correspondence as well as letters to authors, editors, colleagues abroad and agents, among others. These also include letters written by editors and authors to him in solidarity with his dismissal from Pantheon and a number of angry letters addressed to Pantheon, as well as letters of a personal nature between him and his aunt and uncle (Bella and Serge). Later correspondence in this section consists of letters (and later, e-mails) addressed to Schiffrin after his removal from Pantheon in 1990.

Series II. Business and Subject Files, 1946-2011

Subseries II.1. Business files, 1946-2003 undated

Pantheon proposals, inventories, pension plans, assets, payments, personnel files, employment agreements, sale to Random House papers, sales reports and accounts from 1944 to 1961, before André joined the publishing house, followed by the 1962-1991 files including Pantheon salary reports, business plans, contact sheets, contracts, inventories, sales reports, expense reports, cash flow analyses, and guest lists for events. There are also some personal business files, both from his time at Pantheon and after, which include curricula vitae, employment agreements for his teaching positions at Yale and the University of California, itineraries of his trips and schedules of conferences he was attending or speaking at.

Subseries II.2. Subject Files, 1958-2011 undated

Series III. Personal and Biographical Files, 1956-2014 undated

Subseries III.1. Diaries, notes and notebooks, 1957-1995 undated

Travel diaries, journals and calendars, handwritten notes and notebooks, drafts of speeches and lectures. With the exception of two calendars, the rest are undated.

Subseries III.2. Printed material and photographs, 1956-2014 undated

Subseries III.3. Miscellaneous, 1958-2002 undated

Some photographs, memorabilia and printed material related to his family, along with some miscellaneous printed material of personal interest to Schiffrin.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least two business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); André Schiffrin Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Finding aid available online.

Selected Related Material-- at Columbia

New Press Records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Pantheon Books Records, 1944-1968, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries. Rare Book and Manuscript Library; machine readable finding aid created by Columbia University Libraries Digital Library Program Division

Processing Information

Papers processed by Atefeh Akbari (GSAS 2018), 2015. Small addition (1 folder) processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi, 2018.

Finding aid written by Atefeh Akbari (GSAS 2018), August 2015

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion August 5, 2015 Finding aid written in English. Finding aid adheres to that prescribed by Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    2015-08-05 File created.
    2015-08-06 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi
    2016-10-27 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi
    2018-05-08 XML document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi

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Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Book jacketsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Clippings (information artifacts)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (document genre)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Authors and publishersPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bjurström, Carl Gustaf, 1919-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book editorsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Book publishingPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
New PressPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pantheon BooksPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Pantheon Books--History--20th centuryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishingPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing--EuropePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Random House (Firm)--HistoryPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, AndréPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, JacquesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Schiffrin, Jacques--CorrespondencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wolff, Helen 1906-1994PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Wolff, Kurt, 1887-1963PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

André Schiffrin, a dominant presence and pioneer publisher in the American publishing world from the 1960s onward, was born on June 14, 1935 to a French mother and Russian emigre father in Paris. Before they fled to New York (aided by his father's close friend André Gide) as a result of the increasing, flagrant anti-Semitism in France in 1941, his father, Jacques Schiffrin, founded La Bibliotheque de la Pleiade in Paris, and later in New York, he joined Pantheon books in 1944, founded by his German exiled friend, Kurt Wolff, where he would continue to publish French authors and design all the books, until his death in 1950.

Schiffrin was admitted to Yale in 1953 where he majored in history and graduated with honors. During his time at Yale, his anti-Communist socialism led him and some friends to found the Student League for Industrial Democracy which would later become the Students for a Democratic Society. During his last year at Yale, he was awarded one of two Clare Fellowships to Cambridge University. This scholarship allowed him to enroll in a two-year program that was specifically intended for visiting American students who could experience undergraduate studies in Britain but at a higher intensity than their British counterparts, and upon completion they would receive the equivalent of an American Master of Arts degree. He stayed there for two years from 1957 to 1959. At Cambridge, he was offered the position of editor at Granta magazine, the leading University publication, thus becoming the first American to hold this position. He also met his future wife there, Maria Elena de la Iglesia (known as Leina), whom he married in 1961 and would have two daughters with, Anya and Natalia. In the summer of 1958, he took a summer job at New American Library in New York, where he would return to work after graduating from Cambridge in 1959. In fall 1959 he pursued doctoral work at Columbia University but he did not earn a degree. During this time he also wrote a series of articles for Socialist Commentary.

In 1962, a year after Pantheon and Knopf had been bought by Random House, Schiffrin was invited to join Pantheon as a junior editor. He later became editor-in-chief and finally managing director, and remained with the publishing house until 1990. At Pantheon, he was responsible for familiarizing American readers with the works of Michel Foucault, Simone de Beauvoir, Marguerite Duras, Gunter Grass, Jean Paul Sartre, Julio Cortazar, Anita Brookner, Noam Chomsky, E.P. Thompson, Edward Said, and Art Spiegelman, among countless others. His staunch advocacy of intellectual freedom and his emphasis on publishing significant and serious books that wouldn't result in high profits for the publishing house coupled with his leftist tendencies lead to his dismissal in 1990 by Alberto Vitale, the new CEO at Pantheon, after he refused to downsize or severely cut down the number of books he would publish every year. Several top editors and writers left Pantheon with Schiffrin and demonstrations were held in support of his actions. He raised sufficient funds to start the New Press, an independent, not-for-profit publishing house, and its first book was Stud Terkel's Race, published in spring of 1992. Schiffrin remained director at the New Press until 2003, when he decided to spend a year in Paris with his wife. Afterwards and until his death, they split their time between their apartments in New York and Paris, and he continued to work in the capacity of editor-at-large and founding director at the New Press. He published two books in English about the publishing industry: The Business of Books: How International Conglomerates Took over Publishing and Changed the Way We Read (Verso, 2000) and Words and Money (Verso, 2010), both of which have been translated into several languages. He also published a memoir in 2007 titled A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York. He frequently contributed to The Chronicle of Higher Education, among other publications. He was the second person to receive the Grisan Cavour Bullati Prize in Milan that is awarded to a publisher each year for their life's work, and in 2011, he received the insignia of Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government. He died of pancreatic cancer in Paris on December 1, 2013.

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