Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Grand Street Publications Inc. Records, 1980-2004

Summary Information


These records contain the editorial, production and correspondence files of Grand Street, a New York literary quarterly founded by Ben Sonnenberg Jr. in 1981 and published through 2004. Throughout its two decades, Grand Street prided itself on nurturing authors and presenting a smart and eclectic mix of contemporary poetry, fiction, art and journalism. The bulk of this collection consists of annotated manuscripts, proofs and correspondence related to the magazine: featured writers include Anne Carson, Arthur Coleman Danto, Jonathan Franzen, Dennis Hopper, Ted Hughes, Norman Mailer, Susan Minot, Toni Morrison, Alice Munro, Orhan Pamuk, Salman Rushide, Edward Said and David Foster Wallace. Production files related to the magazine's operation are also housed within these records and these files include contracts, press and publicity files, design ideas and materials pertaining to Grand Street's attempts to rebrand itself as an online only magazine in the 2000s.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0508
Bib ID 4078372 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Grand Street Publications, Inc
Title Grand Street Publications Inc. Records, 1980-2004
Physical Description 53.85 linear feet (47 legal sized document boxes 18 record cartons [legal sized] 13 record cartons [letter sized])
Language(s) English .

This collection has no restrictions.

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



This collection is arranged in three series.


Scope and Content

The bulk of these records comprise annotated manuscripts, correspondence and editorial and production files for Grand Street. Manuscripts include multiple annotated drafts of poems, articles and fiction as well as final proofs. Professional correspondence related to these files with authors, editor and agents is also contained within the records. Other materials include art files, photographs and slides, press clippings and financial documents.

  • Series I: Editorial Files, 1982-2004

    This large series holds materials related to the artistic content of Grand Street, including drafts and galleys of poems, essays and stories; images by featured artists; unused submissions and ideas for future stories. Grand Street's original filing order has been preserved: in the 1980s editorial files were arranged chronologically by magazine issue while from the 1990s on these same materials were sorted alphabetically by author. Similarly, volume numbers reflect Grand Street's own arrangement: during the 1980s, the journal classified each quarterly issue as part of a yearly volume while from the 1990s onwards, each issue was given its own number.

  • Series II: Correspondence, 1981-2000

    Letters, postcards and notes from authors, editors and agents are included within this series. Correspondents include Anne Carson, Noam Chomsky, Arthur Danto, Ted Hughes, Joyce Carol Oates, Edward Said and Virgil Thomson. The correspondence is arranged in two subseries: correspondence from authors and correspondence from editors and agents.

  • Series III: Production, 1990-2004

    Production and administrative files from the 1990s on are contained within this large subseries, which is arranged alphabetically by subject. Materials relating to the printing and distribution of Grand Street, financial files, contracts from authors, promotional materials and press clippings, and reports from international bookfairs are included within this series. The files relating to Grand Street's website changeover offer a glimpse into the postmillennial relationship between print and online journalism. These detail Grand Street's unsuccessful reinvention as an online only magazine in 2000 and its attempted shift back to print in 2003. Also here are research files about other literary webzines, authors contacted for the online "dispatches column and internal correspondence about the changeovers. An index of authors and works featured in Grand Street is also included in this subseries.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection has no restrictions.

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

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); Grand Street Publications, Inc. Records; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.

Selected Related Material at Columbia

Benjamin Sonnenberg Papers, 1956-2001 Columbia University, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.


No additions are expected

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Editorial files Processed HR 02/--/1986.

1989 addition Vols. 7 & 8 Processed HR 12/05/1989.

Editorial files Processed HR 02/22/1990.

Records reprocessed Darragh Martin, GSAS 2012 2009 December.

Finding aid written Darragh Martin, GSAS 2012 2009 December.

Records recataloged Lea Osborne 2010 September.

Revision Description

2009-07-07 File created.

2010-10-04 xml document instance created by Lea Osborne.

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:"
Essays Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Fiction (general genre) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (literary) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Photographs Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poems Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Carson, Anne, 1950- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Hughes, Ted, 1930-1998 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Literature -- Periodicals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Little magazines -- Periodicals Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Minot, Susan Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Said, Edward W Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Sonnenberg, Benjamin, 1901-1978 Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Stein, Jean, 1947- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Historical Note

Ben Sonnenberg founded Grand Street in 1981 and edited the magazine through the 1980s, defining its important role in New York's literary landscape. Sonnenberg capitalized upon his affluent New York upbringing and friendships with writers such as Ted Hughes to forge a "little magazine" in the tradition of The Parisian Review and Granta. Devoted to contemporary literature and politics, Grand Street was published quarterly and featured an enticing and eclectic selection of poetry, fiction and journalism.

Sonnenberg was a devoted and nurturing editor, striving to recompense writers financially and artistically; many writers were pleased by the generous fees and detailed editorial advice that Grand Street offered them. Sonnenberg also created a literary circle, hosting dinners with contributors in his Riverside Drive apartment and worked strenuously to promote new talent, including Anne Carson and Susan Minot. Carson attested to the close mentorship Sonnenberg provided, writing to him that he was "always in the back of my thoughts like a piece of chocolate saved in the corner of the cupboard all through Lent." Other writers featured throughout the 1980s include Grover Amen, Arthur Coleman Danto, Ted Hughes, W.S. Merwin, Alice Munro, Joyce Carol Oates, Laura Riding, Edward Said and Virgil Thomson.

Upon Sonnenberg's retirement in 1989, Jean Stein took over Grand Street's lease as editor. Stein expanded the magazine's portfolio to include more international authors and work by contemporary artists. Featured artists were given a high-quality spread in Grand Street and these portfolios were usually accompanied by a short critical commentary. The increasing presence of art assisted another transition in the 1990s, when Grand Street became theme-driven from issue 48 onwards. These themes were often rather broad, allowing for interesting approaches from the featured artists and writers. Themes included Games (Issue 51), Fetishes (Issue 53), Dirt (Issue 57), Fire (Issue 67) and Berlin (Issue 69).

Ironically, Grand Street's initial theme--Oblivion--was strangely prophetic for the path of print journalism after the millennium. Encouraged by economic exigencies, Stein made the bold move of establishing Grand Street as a "state of the art" online magazine (with one print issue each year) in 2000. As part of this transition, Grand Street redesigned its website and put much of its artistic and literary archives online. Despite this stylish website and continued crop of interesting artists and writers, Grand Street struggled in its new home and attempted to revert back to a print journal in 2003. Having lost momentum and faced with an increasingly difficult market for journals, Grand Street ceased publication after the release of its 73rd Issue (Delusions) in the Fall of 2004.