Series 1 - Administration

Identity elements

Reference code

US MBE MSS 026-1

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  • 1974-2000 (Creation)


3 boxes

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Administrative history

The Ploughshares literary magazine was founded in 1971 by DeWitt Henry and Peter O'Malley in the Plough and Stars, an Irish pub in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Each issue is guest-edited by a prominent writer, who assembles an issue around a central theme, aesthetic, or personal vision. Previous guest editors include: Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Rosellen Brown, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Sherman Alexie, Russell Banks, Lorrie Moore, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Richard Ford.

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Scope and content

This series includes correspondence, accounting ledgers, and trustee meeting materials and minutes. Some pages have been removed from their original three-ring binders for preservation purposes. Receipts, invoices, and checks were also removed from the ledgers.

The earliest materials in this series chronicle Ploughshares’ struggle to obtain recognition as a non-profit organization. In 1976, Ploughshares was officially denied tax-exempt status, which also rendered the magazine ineligible for state-funded grants. After successful litigation and appeals to the IRS and state-funding agencies, Ploughshares set a precedent for the funding of literary magazines by the state.

This series also documents important organizational changes and restructuring, including the negotiations to affiliate Ploughshares and Emerson College.

Subseries A: Book Affair, Inc. was a small press distribution project started by Ploughshares’ founder DeWitt Henry. Book Affair helped establish the state funding of literary magazines in Massachusetts. With funding from the Massachusetts Council on the Arts and Humanities, the project subsidized library purchases of small press books and literary magazine subscriptions. Book Affair also received a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts to host a yearly book fair with exhibits, panels, and a local reading series. The Book Affair project helped educate readers and librarians in the purpose and nature of literary magazines, and it also broadened the subscription base of Ploughshares.

This subseries contains catalogues, publicity materials, correspondence, and a project narrative and budget as submitted to the NEA.

Subseries B: This subseries contains issues of independent literary magazines and small press publications that are not directly associated with Ploughshares.

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The series is arranged chronologically.

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