Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Lionel Trilling papers, 1899-1987

Series I: Personal Papers, 1899-1975

Series I holds some of Lionel Trilling's personal items. This small series has been arranged into two subseries: Documents and Journals. Academic records, biographical information, certificates, and other general personal documents are found in Subseries 1. Subseries 2 contains extensive personal writings, ranging from the mid-1920s to the end of Trilling's life. Subseries 1 is arranged by topic, while Subseries 2 is arranged chronologically. Family and personal photographs are located in Series V.

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Subseries I.1: Documents, 1899-1975

This small subseries is composed of Lionel Trilling's personal items. Academic records, such as report cards from Columbia, the DeWitt Clinton High School yearbook and other publications featuring Trilling as a student, and essays written for his English classes at Columbia are found here. Other personal documents include a representative sample of his appointment books, a copy of the Trillings' marriage license, early poems written for family members, several passports, and birth and death certificates. There are also a few items belonging to his mother, Fannie Trilling.

Box 1 Folder 1 Academic Records, 1922-1928

Box 1 Folder 2 Address Book, undated

Box 1 Folder 3 Appointment Books, 1957-1974

Box 1 Folder 4 Biographical Material, 1974

Box 1 Folder 5 Birth and Death Certificates, 1956, 1975, 1956, 1975

Box 1 Folder 6 Columbia University Assignments, 1921-1923

Dewitt Clinton High School

Box 1 Folder 7 Publications, 1920-1921

Box 1 Folder 8 Scrapbook, 1919-1921

Box 1 Folder 9 Yearbook, 1921

Box 2 Folder 1 Early Writings, undated, 1918

Box 2 Folder 2 Funeral Program, 1975 November 10

Box 2 Folder 3 Marriage Certificate, 1929 June 12

Box 2 Folder 4 Passports, 1956-1972

Box 2 Folder 5 Printed Material, 1918-1925

Box 2 Folder 6 Trilling, Fannie, 1899, 1964, 1899, 1964

Subseries I.2: Journals, 1926-1975

Trilling recalled his daily activities, including classes taught, events observed, and conversations conducted with colleagues, friends and family members. However, the journals are not limited to narrative. Trilling also jotted down hypotheses concerning life, literature, and, in particular, the relationship between men and women, as well as potential stories and essays. These diatribes ranged from the merely observant: "Is it a terrible struggle for a bird to fly? Has he always the imminent panic of falling?" to the profoundly theoretical:

"There is one thing the world has immediate need of: I thought once it was a new religion but it is not that: it is that someone should ask a great thundering question-someone should ask it or the very earth should shout it, and the attentions of all to be turned to answer. We could not stand the certainty of a faith, I think. It is not at all necessary that the question be answered or answerable; it is only necessary that it be formulated and valid. But probably this is even more naively an impossible desire than for a new faith. What if I had only one question to answer?"

And, occasionally, to the very personal:

"Why do I so easily forget, and remember with so much surprise that one of the most intense and most un[scribbled word]edly passionate experiences I have had is the light of a scarlet leaved tree and that a flower can delight me? Why am I a little embarrassed to record this for myself?"

Some of the journal entries have annotations that appear to have been added a later date by Diana Trilling. These notes clarify names or provide context for some of the entries. Some of the journals are clearly dated, albeit inconsistently, while others have approximated dates.

Box 2 Folder 7 Undated

Box 2 Folder 8 1926 September-1929 Spring, 1926

Box 2 Folder 9 1930-1931

Box 2 Folder 10 1934-1936

Box 14-L-1 Abstract of the Final Report of the Commission of Inquiry into Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, 1937

Box 2 Folder 11 1938-1943

Box 2 Folder 12 Late, 1930s-1940s

Box 3 Folder 1 Late, 1930s-1941

Box 3 Folder 2 1944 October-1945 September 9, 1944 October-1945 September

Box 3 Folder 3 1945 September 9-1946 Summer, 1945 September

Box 3 Folder 4 1946 Summer-1948 September, 1946

Box 3 Folder 5 Late, 1940s

Box 3 Folder 6 1948 September-1952 April

Box 3 Folder 7 1952-1955

Box 4 Folder 1 Late 1950s-Late, 1960s

Box 4 Folder 2 1956 January-1957 October

Box 4 Folder 3 Circa, 1958

Box 4 Folder 4 1958

Box 4 Folder 5 1959 March-1961 July

Box 4 Folder 6 1959 August 19-1963, 1959 August

Box 4 Folder 7 1960 March-August

Box 4 Folder 8 Sincerity and Authenticity , 1960s

Box 4 Folder 9 1963-1965

Box 4 Folder 10 1965 Fall-1968, 1965

Box 4 Folder 11 1967 December-1970 December

Box 4 Folder 12 1968 Fall, 1968

Box 4 Folder 13 1969-1970 ?, 1969-1970

Box 4 Folder 14 1969-1971 ?, 1969-1971

Box 5 Folder 1 1970-1974

Box 5 Folder 2 1971-1972

Box 5 Folder 3 1973

Box 5 Folder 4 1974 April

Box 5 Folder 5 1974-1975