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   Allen Ginsberg papers, 1943-1991 [Bulk Dates: 1945-1976]

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Preferred Citation

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

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

Summary Information


Papers of Allen Ginsberg, American poet and one of the founders of the beat generation. The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and publications created by Ginsberg and his associates.

At a Glance

Call No.:MS#0487
Bib ID:4078809 View CLIO record
Creator(s):Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Title:Allen Ginsberg papers, 1943-1991 [Bulk Dates: 1945-1976]
Physical description:11.25 linear ft. (26 boxes & 1 oversized document box)
Language(s): Material is in English.
Access: This collection has no restrictions. This collection is located on-site.  More information »



This collection is arranged in 5 series:

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Scope and Content

The Allen Ginsberg papers contain correspondence, artwork, manuscripts, and printed material by and about Ginsberg, including the manuscript for "Indian Journals" and the manuscript for a collection of Ginsberg's lectures entitled "Allen Verbatim." The collection also contains a significant number of artworks and manuscripts by Ginsberg's friends and associates, including William Burroughs's "Interzone" (Naked Lunch) manuscript. There are a very small number of audio recordings included in the collection as well- a recording of an interview with Ginsberg a reel to reel tape of Ginsberg singing poems of William Blake.

1987 Addition: Letters from Allen Ginsberg to Imamu Amiri Baraka.

1991 Addition: Two tape recordings on the subject of William Blake.

1993 Addition: Books & periodicals.

1998 Addition: Letters from Allen Ginsberg to Arthur Knight.

Series I: Correspondence, 1943-1982

This series consists of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and his friends, family and associated. Included is early correspondence between Ginsberg and his friends and fellow writers William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, and Gregory Corso as well as letters including poetry critiques from his Columbia University professors Lionel Trilling and Mark Van Doren. There is also a significant amount of correspondence between Allen Ginsberg and his father, the poet Louis Ginsberg.

Series II: Writings and Manuscripts, 1950-1974

This series includes manuscripts of writing both by Ginsberg and by his friends and collaborators, including the manuscript for Ginsberg's Indian Journals and the galleys for Howl and Other Poems. There are a number of Gregory Corso's poetry manuscripts as well as some poems by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, and some examples of Jack Kerouac's poetry and prose, including a scroll that includes a partial draft of Mexico City Blues.

Of particular interest and importance in this series is William S. Burroughs's "Interzone" manuscript-- the working title of what was later published as Naked Lunch. The manuscript was submitted to City Lights Publishing, but rejected and returned to Allen Ginsberg who was acting as Burroughs's literary agent.

Series III: Artwork and Photographs, 1961-1968 and Undated

This series is comprised of drawings and sketched executed by Ginsberg and his friends. There are also a small number of photographs of Ginsberg in this series.

Series IV: Sound Recordings and Recording Projects, 1967-1971

This series is comprised of records relating to Ginsberg's audio recordings with Barry Miles on the Zapple label. Most of the documents in this series relate to the planning and recording of Gnsberg's "Songs of Innocence and Experience by William Blake, Tuned by Allen Ginsberg."

There are also two audio reels in this series, one of Ginsberg performing the poems of William Blake and a recording of an interview with Ginsberg wherein he talks about the hallucinogenic visions of Blake that he has while a college student in New York.

Series V: Printed Material, 1956-1991

The Printed Material series is comprised primarily of small literary magazines and newsletters that were either collected by Allen Ginsberg, include his work, or include articles or biographical sketches about him. Included are examples of the Poetry Project Newsletter and issues of Unmuzzled Ox. There are a small number of books owned by or with contributions by Ginsberg, most notable the first edition of Howl and Other Poems published by City Lights in 1954.

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Using the Collection


Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions.

This collection is located on-site.

Restrictions on Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. Permission to publish material from the collection must be requested from the Curator of Manuscripts/University Archivist, Rare Book and Manuscript Library (RBML). The RBML approves permission to publish that which it physically owns; the responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

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

Selected Related Material-- at Columbia

Barry Miles Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Peter Orlovsky Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

William S. Burroughs Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Gregory Corso Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University.

Selected Related Material-- Other Repositories

Allen Ginsberg Papers, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas.

Allen Ginsberg Papers, Department of Special Collections Green Library Stanford University Libraries.

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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

Cataloged 06/--/1989 Christina Hilton Fenn

2 tape recordings Processed 01/15/1992 HR

Printed materials Processed 02/08/1995 HR

AG letters to A. Knight & replies Cataloged 10/08/1998 HR

Machine readable finding aid generated from MARC-AMC source via XSLT conversion May 22, 2010 Finding aid written in English.
    2010-05-22 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz

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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.

Additional Creators

HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Ball, Gordon.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
Audio tapes.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Galley proofs.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Manuscripts (literary).PortalCLIOArchiveGRID


HeadingCUL Archives:
CUL Collections:
Nat'l / Int'l Archives:
American literature--20th century.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Barzun, Jacques, 1907-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Beat generation.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bohemianism--United States.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cassady, Carolyn.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Cassady, Neal.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Charters, Ann.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Corso, Gregory.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Di Prima, Diane.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ferlinghetti, Lawrence.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Ginsberg, Louis, 1895-1976.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
India--Description and travel.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Literature publishing.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
McClure, Michael.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Miles, Barry, 1943-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Orlovsky, Peter, 1933-PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Trilling, Lionel, 1905-1975.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID
Van Doren, Mark, 1894-1972.PortalCLIOArchiveGRID

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History / Biographical Note

Biographical Note

Allen Ginsberg, born Irwin Allen Ginsberg, grew up in Paterson New Jersey with his parents, Louis and Naomi Ginsberg and his brother Eugene Brooks. Both of Allen's parents were to be major influences on him and his work-- his father, a poet and high school English teacher, was one of his earliest and most constant readers and critics. His mother's mental illness would profoundly affect Ginsberg as well, though in a very different way, ultimately inspiring Ginsberg's poem "Kaddish: for Naomi Ginsberg 1894-1956."

Ginsberg left Paterson for New York City when he was accepted to Columbia University as an undergraduate. He entered University in the Fall of 1943 and soon met fellow Columbia student, Lucien Carr who would introduce Ginsberg to Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. This group of friends would form the nucleus of the Beat Generation. Though a brilliant student, Ginsberg was expelled from Columbia in 1945 for scrawling an obscenity on his window and for engaging in homosexual sex. He did, however, return to the University the next year and completed his BA in 1948.

After Ginsberg's graduation he remained in New York City and his apartment became a meeting place and crash pad for his group of friends, including Herbert Huncke-- a drug addict, petty thief, and Times Square habitue. When the apartment was busted containing Huncke's stolen goods, Huncke took the jail time, but Ginsberg was still implicated. Rather than go to jail, Ginsberg plead that he was psychologically unfit to stand trial and was sent to the Columbia Psychiatric Institute for an eight month sentence. It was here that he met Carl Solomon, to whom he would dedicate the poem "Howl."

After he was released from the psychiatric hospital, Ginsberg remained in New York for a few years, starting to write and working odd jobs, before he moved to San Francisco in 1953. Once he was in San Francisco, he met a group of California artists and poets including Philip Whalen, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti and became involved in the San Francisco Renaissance movement that was taking place on the west coast literary scene. It was in San Francisco that Ginsberg first wrote "Howl" and read it for the first time at the 1955 Six Gallery reading hosted by Kenneth Rexroth. It was also in San Francisco that Ginsberg met Peter Orlovsky who would be his lover, collaborator, and companion throughout the rest of his life.

Ginsberg spent the next few years nominally based in New York City, but traveling widely. He visited William Burroughs in Tangier, Morocco and famously lived in Paris at "The Beat Hotel" at 9 Rue Git-le-coeur with Gregory Corso and Willaim Burroughs where he helped assemble Burroughs's The Naked Lunch manuscript. He and Peter Orlovsky spent the greater part of 1962-1963 in India. This experience would be the basis for his non-fiction book Indian Journals. He moved back to New York, living in both the city and a farm house in Cherry Valley in upstate New York where he based his non-profit artists' relief fund, The Committee on Poetry.

In 1974 Ginsberg helped to found the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics of the Naropa Institute where he was also a member of the faculty. He returned to teach at his alma mater as a visiting professor in 1968 and took a teaching position at Brooklyn College which he retained until his death of liver cancer in 1997.

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