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Stephen Longstreet papers

Call Number: YCAL MSS 262

Scope and Contents

The Stephen Longstreet Papers consists of four types of material with which he described and illustrated his experiences during the Harlem Renaissance and the Jazz Age: a heavily illustrated typescript of an unpublished book project, 130 drawings in various formats and media, seven collages, and a small group of ephemeral items.


  • 1925-1990


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Stephen Longstreet 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 Stephen Longstreet, 1965-1992. The portraits of Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound were transferred from the Yale University Library's Arts of the Book Collection in 2005.


The Stephen Longstreet Papers is organized into five series: Series I. "From ‘The Lost Generation' to ‘The Grapes of Wrath,'" (1990, undated); Series II, Additional Papers (1948-1976); Series III, Harlem Sketch Books (1925-1939, undated); Series IV, Drawings (1925-1975, undated); and Series V, Stage Backdrop Collages (1952-1955, undated).


8.35 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The Stephen Longstreet Collection consists of four types of material: a heavily illustrated typescript of an undated and unpublished book project; 130 drawings in various formats and media; seven collages; and a small group of ephemeral items. The focus of the collection is Longstreet's observation of jazz culture, particularly as it engaged African Americans. He lived in cities on all three American coasts, as well as major cities in Europe, where he recorded scenes and people in local clubs, bars, and music and dance halls.

Stephen Longstreet (1907-2002)

The artist, novelist, and screenwriter Stephen Longstreet was born in New York City on April 18, 1907, and raised in New Brunswick, NJ. His birth name was Chauncey Weiner, a surname shortened from the family name Weiner-Longstrasse; as a youth he changed his first name to Henry and in the early 1940s became known as Stephen Longstreet. He began his career as a graphic artist in New York by publishing cartoons and vignettes in periodicals such as the New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Saturday Evening Post, and Colliers, then went on to write radio, television, and film scripts. Longstreet wrote, ghostwrote, compiled, and edited nearly 140 books between 1936 and 1999, which were published under the name Stephen Longstreet, as well as his pseudonyms Thomas Burton, Paul Haggard, David Ormsbee, Henri Weiner, Stephen Weiner-Longstreet, and Philip Wiener. Many of his early drawings appeared with the signature "Henri." Longstreet married Ethel Godoff (1909-1999) in Brooklyn in 1935; they had two children. He died in Los Angeles on February 20, 2002.

Longstreet wrote both novels and non-fiction works. Most of the latter were not reviewed kindly, with reviewers questioning his accuracy of content and reliability of sources. Perhaps his most notable hoax was Nell Kimball: Her Life as an American Madam, by herself, edited and with an introduction by Stephen Longstreet (1970). He claimed to have received a manuscript memoir from Kimball (1854-1934), a well-traveled prostitute and New Orleans madam, tried in vain to find a publisher for it in the 1930s, and then held on to her manuscript when she died. After citing it as primary source material for his own books Sportin' House: a History of New Orleans Sinners and the Birth of Jazz (1965) and The Wilder Shore: a Gala Social History of San Francisco's Sinners and Spenders, 1849-1906 (1968), Longstreet sold the manuscript to Macmillan Publishing. Kimball's autobiography received positive notices in newspapers and mass-market periodicals, but academics found too many close parallels in narrative and language to the works of Herbert Asbury (1889-1963), and shortly, both the text and the madam were found to be Longstreet's fabrications. The Wilder Shore itself was then revealed to have been paraphrased from Asbury's book The Barbary Coast (1933).

Guide to the Stephen Longstreet Papers
Under Revision
by Sandra Markham
July 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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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.