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James Stevenson papers

 Collection
Call Number: GEN MSS 1693

Scope and Contents

The James Stevenson Papers contains personal and literary correspondence, original artwork, writings, notes, personal papers, clippings, photographs, and audiovisual material documenting the life and career of American cartoonist and children's book author James Stevenson. The bulk of the collection consists of drafts of writings and illustrations for children's books, illustrated memoirs, and young adult novels, as well as cartoons, writings, and illustrations submitted to The New Yorker and The New York Times. Additional material includes proofs, correspondence, and financial and legal records related to publication of his works. The papers also contain drafts of his lesser known body of theatrical writings and early cartoons and illustrations he created for the student newspaper of the Hackley School. Correspondents include fellow illustrator Frank Modell, Judy Blume, Ethel Kennedy, and composer Gabriel Fontrier. The records span from 1902 to 2017, with the bulk of the material falling between 1945 and 2016.

Dates

  • 1902 - 2017
  • Majority of material found within 1945 - 2016

Creator

Language of Materials

In English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Boxes 71, 153-154 are restricted until 2040. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Box 147 (computer disks): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 148 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Box 149 (record album storage): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The James Stevenson papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Josephine Merck, 2018, 2019, 2021.

Arrangement

Organized into six series: I. Correspondence, 1962-2017. II. Writings and Illustrations, 1907-2017. III. The New Yorker, 1956-2016. IV. Visual Materials, circa 1950-2016. V. Personal Papers, 1902-2017. VI. Computer and Audiovisual Media, 1986-2016.

Extent

236.5 Linear Feet ((151 boxes) + 2 art, 1 record album storage)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

https://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/beinecke.jstevenson

Overview

The James Stevenson Papers contains personal and literary correspondence, original artwork, writings, notes, personal papers, clippings, photographs, and audiovisual material documenting the life and career of American cartoonist and children's book author James Stevenson. The bulk of the collection consists of drafts of writings and illustrations for children's books, illustrated memoirs, and young adult novels, as well as cartoons, writings, and illustrations submitted to The New Yorker and The New York Times. Additional material includes proofs, correspondence, and financial and legal records related to publication of his works. The papers also contain drafts of his lesser known body of theatrical writings and early cartoons and illustrations he created for the student newspaper of the Hackley School. Correspondents include fellow illustrator Frank Modell, Judy Blume, Ethel Kennedy, and composer Gabriel Fontrier. The records span from 1902 to 2017, with the bulk of the material falling between 1945 and 2016.

James Stevenson (1929-2017)

James Stevenson (Yale 1951) was an American illustrator and writer. He worked as a cartoonist for The New Yorker from 1956 to 2003 and was the author and illustrator of more than 100 children’s picture books. Stevenson was born on July 11, 1929 in New York City to architect Harvey Stevenson and Winifred Worcester and attended the private Hackley School in Tarrytown, New York. He received a B.A. in English from Yale in 1951, where he worked on the campus humor magazine The Yale Record. While a student at Yale, he submitted cartoon ideas and sketches to The New Yorker. He was hired by the magazine in 1956 to develop ideas for the art department before starting to draw cartoons himself. During his 47-year career at The New Yorker, he published 1,988 cartoons and 79 magazine covers. He also began working as a reporter in 1960 and continued to contribute articles and essays, such as pieces for “The Talk of the Town” section, after retiring from the magazine in 2003. He previously worked as a reporter for Life from 1953 to 1954, and later wrote the column “Lost and Found New York” for The New York Times from 2003 to 2009.

Stevenson published his first children’s book, Walker, the Witch, and the Striped Flying Saucer, in 1969. One of his earliest books, If I Owned a Candy Factory, was written in collaboration with his young son James in 1968. Other titles include The Worst Person in the World (1978), Don’t You Know There’s a War On? (1992), and No Laughing, No Giggling, No Smiling (2004). His books What’s Under My Bed? (1983) and Could Be Worse! (1987) were featured on the PBS Reading Rainbow television show. Could Be Worse! was also selected as The New York Times Outstanding Children’s Book of the Year. In addition to his many picture books, Stevenson published adult and young adult novels, several illustrated collections of his poetry, and an illustrated biography of fellow New Yorker cartoonist Frank Modell. He also illustrated books for authors such as Judy Blume, Dr. Seuss, Jack Prelutsky, Cynthia Rylant, and Alan Arkin. Stevenson married Jane Walker in 1953, and later painter Josephine Merck in 1993. He was the father of nine children and a longtime resident of Cos Cob, Connecticut, where he died on February 17, 2017.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
Title
Guide to the James Stevenson Papers
Status
Completed
Author
by Emma Gronbeck
Date
April 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2022-06-13: Updated by Rosemary K. J. Davis to reflect donor restriction.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

Contact:
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977

Location

121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.