Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Donald C. Brace Papers, 1839-1991, bulk 1901-1955

Summary Information


This collection contains the papers of Donald C. Brace, one of the founders of the New York publishing house Harcourt, Brace & Company. Materials include correspondence, business records, and proofs of the U.S. editions of Virginia Woolf's works Orlando, The Waves, and The Second Common Reader; the latter two proofs include the author's corrections.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#1824
Bib ID 12414983 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Brace, Donald C., 1881-1955
Title Donald C. Brace Papers, 1839-1991, bulk 1901-1955
Physical Description 3 linear feet (1 record carton; 3 document boxes; 1 flat box; 1 Portrait of Brace)
Language(s) English .

The following boxes are located off-site: 1, 3-5. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.



The material is arranged into five series and several subseries.



The collection contains the papers of Donald Brace and his family and chiefly relates to Brace's publishing activities. The first series includes Brace's correspondence with authors, professional associates, family members, and friends. The author correspondence includes letters from many prominent American writers during the 1930s through 1950s, but includes no correspondence with the firm's British authors. Series II includes the papers of Harcourt Brace, the bulk dating from 1919 to 1960: proofs of three Virginia Woolf books and one novel by fellow Bloomsbury writer David Garnett; as well as business files, financial records, catalogs, and photographs of the firm's offices and personnel. Series III contains the personal papers of Donald Brace and materials related to his involvement with Columbia College. Series IV holds the Brace family papers - including deeds, marriage certificates, compositions, and correspondence - dating from 1839 to 1977. Series V contains limited-edition or privately printed books owned by Donald Brace, including a complete series of leaflets from writer and activist J. E. Spingarn's Troutbeck Press.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1920-1955

    This series includes Donald Brace's correspondence with authors, professional associates, and family members and friends.

  • Series II: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1919-1991

    This series 1991 includes proofs, business records, catalogs, and photographs related to the firm's publishing operations. The bulk of the material dates from 1919 to 1960.

  • Series III: Personal, 1899-1955

    This series includes materials related to Brace's personal life and his involvement as a student and alumnus of Columbia.

  • Series IV: Family, 1839-1977

    This series includes the Brace family papers, including deeds, marriage certificates, compositions, and correspondence. The bulk of the material from the nineteenth and early 20th centuries includes family deeds and wills, and the papers of Frank Brace (1852-1936), who worked at the West Winfield Star, the American Press Association, the Frank Presbrey Company (a New York advertising firm), and finally at Harcourt Brace. The series also contains diaries, letters from Ernest to Frank Brace and Ida Brace's correspondence, including letters of condolence on the death of Donald Brace (including one note containing a clipping of the obituary T. S. Eliot wrote for him). The material postdating Donald Brace's decease includes Ida Brace's donation of a personal library to Clark University and an unsuccessful attempt by the University of Wyoming to acquire Donald Brace's papers in 1977.

  • Series V: Publications, 1910-1958

    This series includes privately printed or limited-edition works, mostly published by friends of Donald Brace with the exception of "Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years" by Carl Sandburg, which Harcourt Brace published as a promotional addition to Sandburg's biography. Other miscellaneous items include a chapbook by Humbert Wolfe and a book on Henry Winthrop Sargent by J. E. Spingarn. The series also includes a set of Troutbeck Press Leaflets, published by J. E. Spingarn, which include works by Lewis Mumford and W. E. B. Du Bois.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

The following boxes are located off-site: 1, 3-5. You will need to request this material from the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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); Donald C. Brace Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Papers processed by Will Glovinsky (GSAS 2020), 2017.

Finding aid written by Will Glovinsky (GSAS 2020), July 2017.

Revision Description

2017-07-12 File created.

2017-07-16 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2018-01-10 XML document instance revised by Catherine C. Ricciardi

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

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.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Awards Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book catalogs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Chapbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Clippings (Information Artifacts) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Diaries Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Page proofs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Wills Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Yearbooks Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
typescripts Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Authors and publishers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Book editors Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Brace, Ernest C. Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Brooks, Van Wyck, 1886-1963 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cane, Melville, 1879-1980 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cape, Jonathan, 1879-1960 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Columbia College (Columbia University) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Cozzens, James Gould, 1903-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
De Kruif, Paul, 1890-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Deeds Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Dodd, Martha, 1908-1990 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Eliot, T. S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fisher, Dorothy Canfield, 1879-1958 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Garnett, David, 1892-1981 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Glasgow, Ellen Anderson Gholson, 1873-1945 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harcourt Brace & Company Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harcourt, Alfred, 1881-1954 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Harcourt, Brace & Howe Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Kent, Rockwell, 1882-1971 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lewis, Lloyd, 1891-1949 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Lewis, Sinclair, 1885-1951 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
McKenney, Ruth, 1911-1972 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Moore, Merrill, 1903-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Porter, Katherine Anne, 1890-1980 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Publishers and publishing -- United States -- History Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Reynal & Hitchcock Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Robinson, Henry Morton, 1898-1961 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Snow, Wilbert, 1884-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stafford, Jean, 1915-1979 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Untermeyer, Louis, 1885-1977 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Van Loon, Hendrik Willem, 1882-1944 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Woolf, Virginia, 1882-1941 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

Donald Brace was born in 1881 in West Winfield, N.Y., where his father was a local newspaper publisher. In 1901 he matriculated at Columbia University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the Spectator and was named 1904 class valedictorian. He began his career in publishing at Henry Holt & Co. before founding his own firm with Columbia classmate Alfred Harcourt in 1919. The newly formed Harcourt, Brace & Howe (William Howe soon left the firm) found early success with John Maynard Keynes' The Economic Consequences of the Peace and Sinclair Lewis' Main Street (both released in 1920). Through Keynes Brace met other Bloomsbury writers, and over the next decade he made frequent trips to England to secure the U.S. rights to books by novelists and poets such as Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, T.S. Eliot, and George Orwell. Prominent American authors on Harcourt Brace's list included Lewis Mumford, Katherine Anne Porter, Carl Sandburg, Jean Stafford. The firm also established a successful textbook department and ran the Harcourt Brace bookshop in Manhattan. After Alfred Harcourt's retirement in 1942, Brace served as chairman until his retirement in 1948.

Brace and his wife Ida lived in Riverside, Connecticut with their two children. The Brace family was friendly with several writers and artists published by Harcourt Brace, including Paul de Kruif, Christopher Morley, and Rockwell Kent, and with the British publisher Jonathan Cape, whose children lived with the Braces during World War II. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Brace's father Frank joined his son at the publishing firm, while Brace's younger brother Ernest became a novelist in Woodstock, N.Y. An active Columbia alumnus in later life, Brace chaired scholarship fundraising efforts and received the university's Medal of Excellence in 1950.

When Brace died in 1955, T. S. Eliot wrote in a London Times obituary"No American publisher was better known or better liked in the literary world of my generation." After Brace's death, Harcourt Brace (under the names Harcourt Brace & World and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich) became more focused on textbooks, and took an increasingly commercial orientation under William Jovanovich's leadership. It nonetheless maintained an interest in literary translation, with the Helen and Kurt Wolff (Pantheon Press founders) imprint. The firm's backlist is now a part of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.