The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has acquired the archive of the McSweeney’s publishing company. Founded in 1998 by Dave Eggers, McSweeney’s is considered one of the most influential literary journals and publishing houses of its time. McSweeney’s publishes books, Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Believer magazine, the food journal Lucky Peach and the DVD-journal Wholphin.
The bulk of the archive is composed of manuscripts of books, essays and short stories; correspondence drawn from the publishing house’s work with hundreds of writers; and award-winning design materials. A current digital copy of all files relating to McSweeney’s work will be included, as well as first editions of all its publications.
“We’re very happy to have the McSweeney’s archive at the Ransom Center,” said Eggers. “The Ransom Center is a world-class institution, and we’re honored to be included among their holdings. McSweeney’s is celebrating our 15th anniversary this year, and we’ve had the honor and pleasure of publishing hundreds of authors, established and upcoming, while navigating the choppy seas of independent publishing. We thank the Ransom Center for taking on our archive and for cleaning out our basement.”
In the early days of the journal, Eggers corresponded extensively with such notable writers as David Foster Wallace, Rick Moody, Zadie Smith, Michael Chabon, Heidi Julavits, William Vollmann, Lydia Davis, Nick Hornby and Sarah Vowell, among hundreds of others. Their correspondence is included in the archive.
The flagship publication of McSweeney’s is Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, a journal that has been honored every year with design awards. Each issue of the journal is uniquely designed, challenging the traditional form of the book and often including innovative features such as two spines or a magnetic binding. One issue was designed to resemble a bundle of junk mail and another looks like a human head. The archive documents the acquisition, correspondence, design and production associated with each issue and includes author submissions, edited drafts, final proofs, original art and unpublished submissions.
The Quarterly Concern has attracted work from some of the finest writers in the country, including Denis Johnson, T.C. Boyle, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Lethem, Robert Coover and Ann Beattie. At the same time, the journal continues to be a major home for new and unpublished writers.
Materials relating to The Believer, a monthly arts and culture magazine, make up a significant portion of the archive. The magazine publishes long-form journalism, interviews, new poems, comics and columns by Nick Hornby, Daniel Handler and other contributors. Works and interviews by writers such as Wallace, Salman Rushdie and Smith, as well as countless musicians, artists, actors and filmmakers, have appeared in the magazine’s pages. The archive includes 10 years of email correspondence between editors and artists, copy editing documents, early sketches for cover layouts by Eggers and other materials related to the publishing process.
McSweeney’s began publishing books in 2000. Archival materials related to these books include manuscripts submitted by authors, multiple drafts showing editorial notes and author revisions, outlines, alternate endings, deleted fragments, correspondence, proofs and design materials.
McSweeney’s magazines, journals and books have won numerous awards, including the National Magazine Award, the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Independent Publisher Book Awards and others.
The Ransom Center holds several publishers’ archives, including the records of Alfred A. Knopf, P.E.N. International, Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press, Anvil Press Poetry, Commentary magazine, the “London Review of Books” and “Little Magazine.”
The McSweeney’s archive will be accessible once processed and cataloged. High-resolution press images are available.