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UD Special Collections > Finding Aids > David T. Bazelon Papers Index > Series Outline
DAVID T. BAZELON
1935 - 1994
(bulk 1942 – 1985)
Manuscript Collection Number 495
Location : Library Annex | Special Collections Use Only. Library requires 24 hour notice for retrieval.
Accessioned: Gift of David T. Bazelon, November 1996
Extent: 27 linear ft.
Contents: manuscripts, galleys, correspondence, clippings, photographs, books, posters, scrapbooks
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: July – September 2004 by Kevin Burke
Table of Contents
critic David T. Bazelon was one of the “New York Intellectuals” whose work
appeared in journals like Commentary,
Partisan Review, Dissent, and Politics in
the years following the Second World War.
Throughout his career, Bazelon was associated with writers and
intellectuals like James T. Farrell, Saul Bellow, Irving Howe, Norman
Podhoretz, and others. He was born in
At every stage of his careers, Bazelon thought of himself first as a writer. Beginning in 1943 with book reviews in The New Republic and The New York Times Book Review, Bazelon contributed more than a hundred articles, reviews, stories, and poems to periodicals including Commentary, Reporter, Partisan Review, New Leader, and Dissent. He was an early contributor to Dwight MacDonald’s influential journal, Politics. Although Bazelon’s initial interest was in writing fiction and poetry, his earliest success came from his essays and reviews, and he established his reputation as a social critic. Bazelon continued to write fiction, much of it autobiographical, as well as poetry throughout his career, most of which remained unpublished. Bazelon also gave speeches in academic, professional, and civic venues and contributed to a number of conferences. He wrote the script for the 1964 documentary Point of Order about Joseph McCarthy, and contributed liner notes for Columbia Records releases.
Bazelon published three books: The Paper Economy (1963), Power in America (1967), and Nothing But a Fine Tooth Comb (1970). The Paper Economy was an analysis of the corporation and its relation to the structure of the American economy. It was listed by the American Library Association as one of its fifty notable books of 1963. In Power in America, Bazelon took up the ideas of Milovan Djilas and John Kenneth Galbraith to examine the growing power of intellectuals in American society. Publication of the book was a seminal moment in the discussion of the idea of a “New Class” that culminated in the “New Class Study” and subsequent publication of the volume The New Class? (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books, 1979). Bazelon served as an advisor to the project. Nothing But a Fine Tooth Comb, Bazelon’s third book, collected many of the essays and reviews he had published in periodicals together with previously unpublished material and new introductory material and an epilogue written for the book.
of Bazelon’s literary and professional careers is discussed and documented in
the extensive collection of letters contained in the David T. Bazelon
Papers. He met the future novelist and
film-writer Calder Willingham at the
Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2004. Reproduced in
Other information derived from the collection.
Scope and Content Note
The David T. Bazelon Papers, spanning the dates 1935-1996, comprises 27 linear feet of manuscripts, correspondence, books, clippings, and photographs documenting the work of the social critic and member of the post-war “New York Intellectuals,” David T. Bazelon.
collection is divided into four series corresponding to the major areas of
Bazelon’s work and life. The files
closely follow the original order of the papers, with correspondence collected
carefully and records of freelance writing meticulously maintained by the
author throughout his life. The first
series documents Bazelon’s literary work.
Series two contains material related to Bazelon’s academic career as a
student and as a professor at
Literary Work series includes Bazelon’s files on his three books: The
Paper Economy (1959), Power in
“Ghost-writing” section of the series documents Bazelon’s work during the late
1950s and early 1960s as a researcher-writer for his uncle, federal judge David
L. Bazelon, as well as his brief employment as a writer and interviewer for the
ABC television program The Mike Wallace
Interview Show during the late 1950s.
Bazelon’s research files are included in the literary series. The files include a vast array of clippings
and other printed material related to his work, mostly focused on issues of
contemporary politics, economics, and popular culture. The research files as a whole provide a great
sense of the times and represent topical fodder for a social critic. He collected clippings and articles, some
annotated and underlined, on everything from Law and Lawyers to consumerism,
from the Kennedy administration to the rise of Reagan and
neo-conservatism. He observed cultural
phenomena from the 1950s television quiz scandal to Jim Jones and mass suicides
of the People’s
Also included is material related to conferences in which he participated and organizations to which he belonged. The sub-series on organizations includes Bazelon’s sole foray into political activism with position papers and correspondence related to his attempt to found a National Coalition for a New Congress in 1964. Bazelon’s collection of reprints, typescripts, and clippings by and about his friends and associates completes the Literary works series. Material generally follows the arrangement made by Bazelon himself.
Academic Series includes material relating to Bazelon’s undergraduate career
and to his career as a professor at
series includes class notes from law school courses at
Most notable in the Personal series is the extensive collection of Bazelon’s correspondence. Part of this collection is organized by individual correspondent and includes letters to Bazelon from the novelist James T. Farrell, to whom Bazelon wrote in 1942 seeking advice on his writing career. Farrell and Bazelon continued to correspond through 1944 and the collection includes forty letters with substantial content from Farrell. Bazelon’s early correspondence also includes a large number of letters from the novelist and film-writer Calder Willingham and from the peace activist Robert Pickus, both of whom were college friends. Saul Bellow, Irving Howe, and Dwight MacDonald were other important early correspondents, the latter two as editors and friends involved in the early stages of Bazelon’s career as a freelance writer. The Individual files of the Correspondence also includes over thirty years of letters (1937 – 1967) from Judge David L. Bazelon which supplement the letters included in the section of the Ghost-writing sub-series devoted to Bazelon’s work with his uncle. The letters in the correspondence series deal mainly with the personal relationship between Bazelon and his uncle and document the judge’s early efforts to assist David T. Bazelon’s career.
The second part of the Correspondence series is arranged in chronological sub-sets of alphabetical series, according to Bazelon’s original arrangement, i.e. 1944-1949 A-Z; 1950-1957 A-Z, etc.. This section includes letters from Bazelon’s cousin, the composer Irwin Bazelon; Norman Podhoretz; the psychiatrist Leslie Faber; the sociologist Dennis Wrong; and many others. Throughout the correspondence files are occasional letters from editors such as Delmore Schwarz or Harold Hayes, who wrote to Bazelon about writing assignments. A small but substantial group of nine letters in the post-war chronology (1944-1949) are from former German officer and prisoner of war Horst Raczynski. In a sort of re-education program, Raczynski became a penpal with Bazelon to broaden his understanding of his own role in the war and non-German world views.
The personal series also includes files related to his wives and to his son, ephemera, family photographs, and financial records as they pertain to his freelance writing career. An item of tangential interest in the collection is an educational game designed by Jack Bazelon, David Bazelon’s father, called “Cross-Number Puzzles: Decimals & Percent; Whole Numbers.”
a. The Paper Economy (1963)
b. Power in
c. Nothing But a Fine Tooth Comb (1970)
d. Articles, 1943 - 1988
e. Unpublished Materials, 1940 - 1995
f. “The New Class” Study
h. Research Files
k. Reprints and clippings by and about Friends and Associates
II. Academic Career
a. Undergraduate Career
III. Legal Career
b. Law Career
IV. Personal Life
a. Letters to David T. Bazelon
b. Family and Personal records
UD Special Collections > Finding Aids > David T. Bazelon Papers Index > Series Outline