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   Donald C. Brace papers, 1839-1991 [Bulk Dates: 1901-1955]

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Preferred Citation

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

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

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 Dates: 1901-1955]
Physical description:3 linear feet (1 record carton; 3 document boxes; 1 flat box ; 1 portrait)
Language(s): In English
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 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 »



The material is arranged into five series, with subseries:

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Scope and Content

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.

Subseries I.1: Author Correspondence, 1925-1953

This subseries includes letters from many prominent American writers, but includes no correspondence with the firm’s British authors. Correspondence is most extensive with Paul de Kruif, Christopher Morley, Lewis Mumford, and Katherine Anne Porter. Because Brace was intimately acquainted with some of the authors he published, this subseries includes letters and telegrams that bear on personal and professional matters.

Subseries I.2: Professional Correspondence, 1920-1954

This subseries includes letters with fellow officers of Harcourt Brace, other figures in the New York publishing industry, and other non-author business correspondents.

Subseries I.3: Personal Correspondence, 1921-1955

This subseries includes letters from Brace’s family, including his brother Ernest and father Frank, and friends who were not Harcourt Brace authors. It also includes correspondence regarding community organizations and several New York and Connecticut clubs of which Brace was a member (including the Century Club), notes of condolence on the passing of his father, correspondence regarding his guardianship of Jonathan Cape’s children during World War II, and letters of recommendation or introduction.

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.

Subseries II.1: Page Proofs, 1928-1933

This susbseries includes proofs of four books published by Harcourt Brace. The three Virginia Woolf titles, all first published in London by the Woolfs’ Hogarth Press, are Orlando (1928), The Waves (1931), and The Second Common Reader (1932). The proofs of The Waves and The Second Common Reader include Woolf’s handwritten corrections; the Orlando proofs are uncorrected. The fourth set of proofs, dated 16 Sept 1932 and marked “Second Proof,” is for David Garnett’s Pocahontas (1933; published the same year in the UK by Chatto & Windus); these proofs are also corrected by the author.

Subseries II.2: Business Files, 1919-1991

This subseries includes the minutes of incorporation outlining the corporate structure of Harcourt Brace & Howe in 1919 (Howe soon left and the firm was renamed Harcourt, Brace & Co.) as well as minutes of subsequent meetings of the board of directors and stockholders through 1939. The subseries also includes newspaper and magazine clippings about the firm, memoranda, letters of resignation addressed to the board of directors, the 1949 Report of the President to the Annual Meeting of Stockholders, a 1949 sales reports on the textbook division and 1949 Survey of the Textbook Publishing Industry, a 1953 report on the compensation of textbook salespersons, and the preliminary prospectus of Harcourt Brace’s initial public offering in 1960.

Subseries II.3: Publishing Catalogs, 1919-1943

This subseries contains four Harcourt Brace catalogs: the first announcement from Fall, 1919; Spring, 1923; Spring, 1936; and Spring 1943.

Subseries II.4: Photographs, 1921-1962

This subseries includes photos of Harcourt Brace’s personnel, offices, warehouse, and bookstore.

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.

Subseries III.1: Miscellaneous Personal, 1899-1956

The subseries includes Brace’s high school graduation program, newspaper clippings about Donald and Ida Brace, membership booklets of Brace’s clubs, obituaries of Frank Brace, two typescripts, a notebook with various memoranda (including several related to Harcourt Brace business in 1947) and addresses, a 1954 diary, an obituary of Donald Brace from the West Winfield Star, and several portraits of Brace and photographs of him with family and friends.

Subseries III:2: Columbia: 1901-1955

This subseries contains Donald ’04 and Ernest ’17 Brace’s undergraduate transcripts, Donald’s Sigma Chi certificate, a 1904 Sesquicentennial Columbia Calendar, newspaper clippings, 1904 and 1917 Class Day and Commencement programs, photographs of the 1904 Columbia College class and Spectator editors, the 1902 Yearbook of the Junior Class, and the 1904 Class Book. The subseries also includes correspondence and other materials related to Donald Brace’s activities as an alumnus and fundraiser for Columbia in the 1940s and ’50s and his 1950 Columbia Medal of Excellence.

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.

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Using the Collection

Partially Offsite

Access Restrictions

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

Online finding aid available.

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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 Will Glovinsky (GSAS 2020), 2017.

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

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion July 12, 2017 Finding aid written in English.
    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

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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 catalogsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Clippings (information artifacts)PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Page proofsPortalCLIOArchiveGRID


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

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History / Biographical Note


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.

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