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Using the Collection
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Series I: Editorial Files, 1982-2004
Series II: Correspondence, 1981-2000
At a Glance
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
History / Biographical 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.