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   Susan Orlean papers, 1930s-2015

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Preferred Citation

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

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

Summary Information

Abstract

This collection documents Orlean’s career as a writer and a journalist, and also includes some personal materials and school papers. The collection includes address books, appointment books, audio recordings, clippings, computer files, contracts, correspondence, drafts, interviews, notes, notebooks, photographs, proofs, publications, research materials, school records, and video recordings.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#1777
Bib ID:11614020 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Orlean, Susan
Title:Susan Orlean papers, 1930s-2015
Physical description:30.75 linear feet (21 record cartons, 10.5 document boxes, 3 card files, 2 cassette boxes, and 3 flat boxes)
Language(s): In English.
Access: This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least 2 business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. Some records with sensitive personal information, including social security numbers, are restricted at this time. If you would like to use analog or digital materials in Series V, please contact the library in advance of your visit to discuss access options.  More information »

Arrangement

Arrangement

The collection is arranged in five series, and several subseries:

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Description

Scope and Content

This collection documents Orlean’s career as a writer and a journalist. The collection contains address books, appointment books, audio recordings, clippings, computer files, contracts, correspondence, drafts, interviews, notes, notebooks, photographs, proofs, publications, research materials, school records, and video recordings.

Documentation of the full process of Orlean’s writing is most extensive for her book projects: Saturday Night (1990), The Orchid Thief (1998), and Rin Tin Tin (2011). The records for these projects include Orlean’s notebooks, which she brings on research trips, and her research materials. The notes and research for Saturday Night are organized by chapter. For The Orchid Thief and Rin Tin Tin , Orlean also used a system of numbered index cards to plot out her points and to prepare before beginning to write on a computer. These index cards, and related notes also organized by number, are included in the records.

Orlean also kept notebooks and research materials for her projects for The New Yorker and other magazines. Records are most extensive for articles written from the late 1980s to the present. The collection also include copies of many of Orlean’s newspaper and magazine articles, including clippings scrapbooks of her early work in Portland, Oregon and Boston, Massachusetts that were created by Orlean’s mother.

The collection includes personal, family, and professional correspondence. Most correspondence was only loosely organized, and remains in its original groupings. The personal correspondence files include correspondence, postcards, and greeting cards. Professional files include correspondence on various proposals, projects, and other professional matters, as well as personal messages. In addition to the professional correspondence, the collection includes other professional files that include agreements, contracts, event information, lecture notes, press passes, royalty statements, clippings, interviews, and reviews.

The papers also contain personal materials and school papers, including diaries, diplomas, journals, passports, postcards, and various mementos. Orlean’s school records date primarily from middle school, high school and college, and include class notes, student newspapers, notebooks, and writing assignments. In addition, the papers include family correspondence, photographs, and postcards - some of the family correspondence includes Susan Orlean, but other pieces are between other family members, and do not involve her directly.

The collection includes both personal and professional photographs. The printed photographs include childhood photographs, family photographs, professional headshots and photographs from events, and photographs which appear to show Orlean on location at professional assignments.

The collection also includes audiocassettes and videocassettes, compact disks, DVDs, floppy disks, hard drives, and a personal digital assistant device. These materials document Orlean’s writing, as well as her professional appearances. Many of these materials have not been reformatted; please contact the Rare Book & Manuscript Library in advance of your visit to discuss access options.

Series I: Writings, 1977-2015

This series contains clippings, drafts, notebooks, notes, outlines, research materials, magazines, proofs, publications, and memorabilia related to Orlean’s writings.

Subseries I.1: Saturday Night , 1975-2011

This subseries includes clippings, drafts, notebooks, notes, proofs, publications, and research materials. Most of files are organized around the book’s individual chapters. There are also drafts and research notes for the afterword that was written for the 2011 edition.

Several related articles and excerpts were published in newspapers and magazines to coincide with the release of the book in 1990; these articles are also filed in this series.

Subseries I.2: The Orchid Thief , 1955-2004

This subseries contains material related to both the article “Orchid Fever,” published in The New Yorker on January 23, 1995, and the non-fiction book The Orchid Thief , published in 1998.

The research materials include notebooks, notes, publications, and research materials. Some notes and research materials are filed are by topic, others follow the numbering system assigned by Orlean.

The records also include drafts and proofs for both the article and the book, as well as book covers, and hardcover copies of the book.

Subseries I.3: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend , 1922-2015

This subseries includes manuscripts, proofs, publications, and research materials.

The research materials include notebooks, notes, and source material, some of which is annotated. The source materials include information on Lee Duncan, Herbert Leonard, Daphne Hereford, and the dog Rin Tin Tin and its history in television and film. Some notes and research materials are filed are by topic, others follow the numbering system assigned by Orlean. The research materials include articles, clippings, film treatments, legal documents, and scripts.

The records also include manuscripts corrections and corrected proofs, as well as a recording script, and a hardcover copy of the book.

Subseries I.4: The New Yorker , 1987-2017

This subseries includes clippings, manuscripts, notes, notebooks, proofs, publications, and research materials. There are also a few general files containing professional materials, such as fact checking manuals, and drafts.

This subseries primarily consists of notebooks and research materials on topics related to specific articles written for The New Yorker by Orlean. There is also a biographical statement, and notebooks related to talks given by Orlean.

The subseries also includes clippings of published articles and full issues of The New Yorker .

Materials related to The Orchid Thief and its related New Yorker article are filed together in Subseries I.2.

Subseries I.5: Other Writings, 1975-2015

This subseries contains materials that are not related to the specific publications in Subseries I.1-4. The records include book proposals, drafts, notebooks, and research materials, and as well as clippings, publications, and scrapbooks of Orlean’s published articles.

The subseries also contains a paperback copy of Orlean’s Twitter feed (a “Twournal”) from June-November, 2010.

Articles related to Saturday Night and The Orchid Thief are filed in Subseries I.1 and I.2, respectively.

Series II: Correspondence, 1950s-2013

This series contains both personal and professional correspondence files. A few files are related to specific activities: The New Yorker , The Orchid Thief , and Saturday Night , but most files are a mix of correspondence, emails, greeting cards, and postcards.

In general, most correspondence was only loosely organized, and the professional correspondence can be a mix of professional correspondence and personal messages from professional contacts.

Subseries II.1: Personal Correspondence, 1950s-2006

The personal correspondence files include postcards, greeting cards, and correspondence. Some of the correspondence files, particularly the early postcards, contain items written to/from other family members that do not Susan Orlean herself. Additional family correspondence and materials are filed in Series IV.

Subseries II.2: Professional Correspondence, 1983-2013

The professional correspondence includes emails, quotes from reviews, correspondence regarding various proposals and projects, fan mail, reactions to particular pieces, and files related to The New Yorker , The Orchid Thief , and Saturday Night .

Series III: Professional Files, 1985-2010

This series includes agreements, clippings, contracts, correspondence, financial documents, itineraries for book tours and other events, lecture notes, posters and other publicity materials, proposals, and royalty statements.

Subseries III.1: Contacts and Financials, 1985-2007

This subseries contains agreements, contracts, royalty statements, and other financial records.

Subseries III.2: Speaking and Other Events, 1991-2011

This subseries includes files related to events for specific publications, including Saturday Night , My Kind of Place , and The Orchid Thief . The subseries also includes records on Orlean’s master classes and her involvement with the Bush Family’s literacy events, as well as general files and lecture notes.

Subseries III.3: Press and Reviews, 1987-2011

This subseries includes clippings, interviews, profiles, and reviews, as well as publicity items such as catalogs, posters, and shopping bags.

Subseries III.4: Adaptations, 1991-2008

This subseries contains business files, press, proposals, and reviews related to adaptations and proposed adaptations of Orlean’s work.

Series IV: Personal and Biographical Files, 1930s-2009, undated

This subseries includes address books, appointment books, business cards, calendars, diaries, family correspondence and materials, journals, passports, photographs, school papers, and various mementos and souvenirs.

Family correspondence can also be found in Series II; most of the correspondence in Series IV is from the 1940s and does not directly involve Susan Orlean.

Series V: Audiovisual and Digital Materials, 1987-2010, undated

This subseries includes all audiocassettes and videocassettes, compact disks, DVDs, floppy disks, hard drives, and a personal digital assistant device.

The materials include answering machine tapes, personal items, recordings of Orlean’s appearances, research materials, as well as computer files and backups of files related to Orlean’s writing and other professional work.

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Using the Collection

Offsite

Access Restrictions

 This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least 2 business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Some records with sensitive personal information, including social security numbers, are restricted at this time.

If you would like to use analog or digital materials in Series V, please contact the library in advance of your visit to discuss access options.

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); Susan Orlean Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University 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

This collection was processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Tiana Reid (GSAS 2019) in 2017-2018.

Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi and Tiana Reid in July 2018.

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion August 22, 2018 Finding aid written in English.
    2018-08-22 File created.
    2018-08-24 XML document instance created 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.

Genre/Form

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
CorrespondencePortalCLIOArchiveGRID
PhotographsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Programs (documents)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
SyllabiPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

Subjects

HeadingCUL Archives:
Portal
CUL Collections:
CLIO
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
ArchiveGRID
AuthorsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
History--Social historyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Nursery growers--Florida--Hollywood--BiographyPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Orlean, SusanPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Rin-Tin-Tin (Dog)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women authors, AmericanPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Women journalists--United StatesPortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

History

Susan Orlean was born on October 31, 1955 in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of Edith (nee Gross) and Arthur Orlean.

Orlean studied literature and history at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, graduating in 1976. After graduating from college, Orlean moved to Portland, Oregon. Although she considered attending law school, Orlean began writing for local publications, including Paper Rose Magazine and Williamette Week . In 1982, Orlean moved to Boston, where she wrote for the Boston Phoenix and the Boston Globe . A collection of Orlean’s Boston Globe columns on New England were collected and published as Red Sox and Bluefish: And Other Things That Make New England New England in 1987, around the time that she left Boston and moved to New York. Orlean began writing for The New Yorker in 1987, and became a staff writer in 1992. She has also contributed articles to many other magazines, including Rolling Stone , Vogue , Times Magazine , Spy , Esquire , and Outside .

Orlean published the first of her books, Saturday Night , in 1990. Other books followed, including The Orchid Thief (1998) and Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend (2011). Orlean’s magazine articles have been collected in two anthologies: The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup: My Encounters with Extraordinary People (2001) and My Kind of Place: Travel Stories from a Woman Who's Been Everywhere (2004).

Two of Orlean’s works have been adapted for film: Charlie Kaufman’s film Adaptation (2002) was based on The Orchid Thief , and Blue Crush (2002) was based on Orlean’s article "Life’s Swell” for Women Outside .

Orlean was married to Peter Sistrom in 1983; they divorced after sixteen years of marriage. In 2001, she married John Gillepsie, and they had one son together, Austin, born in 2004.

Currently, Orlean continues to write for The New Yorker and other magazines, and to work on book projects, including The Library Book , due to be published in October 2018.

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