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Harry Smith papers, 1888-2010, bulk 1987-1990

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Smith (Harry) papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection, assembled by the Harry Smith Archives after Smith's death, comprises most of what remained of Smith's work after an itinerate life. Correspondence in Series I is focused on the last few years of Smith's life, when he received mail from former students, acolytes, and medical or social service institutions. Series II contains interesting examples of Smith's poetry, photocopy collage art, and daily ramblings in his journals, though much of the written material is in the form of photocopies. Series III contains a large number of photographs of Smith in a range of activities, some by notable American photographers, and a number by Allen Ginsberg. Series IV contains biographical research, clippings from several decades about Smith's work, and about the posthumous performances of his work organized by the Harry Smith Archives, which is also the primary focus of the videos in Series VII.

Series V contains recordings by and about Smith, along with Smith's Materials for the Study of Religion and Culture in the Lower East Side or Movies for Blind People, comprised of audio cassette recordings of collected sounds such as faucet drippings, wind, bird calls, and traffic. Series VI contains most of the extant works in 16 mm film, and amply documents Smith's major film, Mahagonny, which the Harry Smith Archives transferred to various formats. Smith's collections in Series VIII are the highlight of the archive, where Smith's unique aesthetic strikingly emerges in the patterns that embrace multiple cultures, commercial and handmade objects, and paper ephemera of every imaginable kind.


The papers are arranged in eight series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1974-1992, undated;
Series II. Writings, research, and artwork, circa 1920-1991, undated;
Series III. Photographs, slides, and transparencies, 1940-2006, undated;
Series IV. Printed matter, 1943-2008, undated;
Series V. Audio recordings, 1964-2010, undated;
Series VI. Film projects, 1947-2003;
Series VII. Videos, 1964-2007;
Series VIII. Collections, 1888-circa 1990, undated.

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