Argus Book Shop correspondence
Scope and Contents
The collection also includes, in Series II, more than forty literary essays, poems, and book reviews which may have been submitted for an "Argus miscellany" that Abramson often discussed in his correspondence but apparently never produced. They do not appear in Abramson's journal Reading and Collecting (1936-1938), and likely date after 1938.
While the lack of financial, inventory, vendor, and publishing records keep the collection from being a complete record of the Argus Book Shop, the correspondence files present reveal how Ben Abramson developed business and personal relationships with authors, illustrators, and shop patrons, and, in particular with British authors, the obstacles he encountered while conducting business during World War II.
- 1857 - 1955
- Majority of material found within 1930 - 1944
Conditions Governing Access
Boxes 15-18: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
7 Linear Feet (18 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection also includes, in Series II, more than forty undated literary essays, poems, and book reviews which may have been submitted for an "Argus miscellany" that Abramson often discussed in his correspondence but apparently never produced. The writings do not appear in Abramson's journal Reading and collecting, and likely date after 1938. The Argus Book Shop correspondence files were acquired by Philip D. Sang (1902-1975), a Chicago businessman, philanthropist, and collector of historical and literary manuscripts, who then donated the material to Yale.
Ben Abramson and his Argus Book Shop
In 1944 Abramson closed his Chicago operations and moved to New York; on November first of that year he opened the Argus Book Shop at 3 West 46th Street. By 1947 he began to suffer what would become chronic health and financial problems. Acknowledging that much of his business was accomplished through the mail, Abramson moved with his daughter Deborah Benson Covington to Mohegan Lake, near Peekskill, New York, in April 1949. However, country life held little appeal and he returned to Chicago in March 1953 to reopen the Argus Book Shop at 218 South Wabash Avenue. Deteriorating health and financial situations continued to plague him there, and Abramson died by his own hand on July 16, 1955. He was survived by five siblings, his wife Mollie, and their daughter Deborah.
Throughout his career Abramson employed several assistants who interacted with patrons and authors in person and through the mail. One employee was George M. Dashe (1904-1984), who left Argus to open his Georgian Book Shop on South Michigan Avenue in Chicago in 1940.
Six letters and two postcards to Abramson from John Steinbeck had been retained by Deborah Covington, daughter of Ben Abramson; photostats of these items were made for Yale in June 1957 and are present in the Steinbeck folders. The original letters and postcards are now in the John Steinbeck Collection at the Harry Ransom Center, The University of Texas at Austin.
- Abramson, Ben
- Argus Book Shop (Chicago, Ill.)
- Austen, John
- Authors, American
- Authors, English
- Bailey, J. O. (James Osler), 1903-1979
- Baldwin, Faith, 1893-1978
- Booksellers and bookselling -- United States
- Bookstores -- United States
- Cost, March, -1973
- Dannay, Frederic, 1905-1982
- Davey, Norman, 1888-
- Davies, Rhys, 1901-1978
- Derleth, August, 1909-1971
- Douglas, Robin, 1902-
- Eisenschiml, Otto, 1880-1963
- Fraenkel, Michael, 1896-1957
- Grant, Joan, 1907-1989
- Hardy, W. G. (William George), 1895-1979
- Houghton, Claude, 1889-1961
- Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965
- McFee, William, 1881-1966
- Miller, Henry, 1891-1980
- Morley, Christopher, 1890-1957
- Nin, Anaïs, 1903-1977
- Papé, Frank Cheyne, 1878-1972
- Paul, Louis, 1901-1970
- Prokosch, Frederic, 1908-1989
- Publishers and publishing -- United States
- Rascoe, Burton, 1892-1957
- Sang, Philip D.
- Sang, Philip D. -- Ownership
- Saroyan, William, 1908-1981
- Sinclair, Harold, 1907-1966
- Steinbeck, John, 1902-1968
- Tice, Clara, 1888-1973
- Walton, Evangeline
- Welch, Patrick
- Guide to the Argus Book Shop Correspondence
- by Sandra Markham
- 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
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
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New Haven, CT 06511
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