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Series I: Correspondence, 1920-1955
Series II: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1919-1991
Series III: Personal, 1899-1955
At a Glance
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.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
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.
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
Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
2016-2017-M124: Source of acquisition--Katharine Consenza Butler. Method of acquisition--Gift; Date of acquisition--date.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Will Glovinsky (GSAS 2020), 2017.
Finding aid written by Will Glovinsky (GSAS 2020), July 2017.
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.
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.