Author and social critic. Includes journals, notes, typewritten drafts of novels and short stories, galley proofs, clippings, and correspondence concerning writings; letters from family, publishers, literary agents, colleagues, friends, and readers, including Richard Hofstadter, Saul Bellow, James Thomas Farrell, Herbert Gold, Irving Howe, Bernard Malamud, and Charles Wright Mills; letters from Swados, especially to family, friends, and editors; book reviews; notes, background material, and drafts of speeches and lectures; financial records; biographical and autobiographical sketches; bibliographies.
Collection open for research.
Background on Harvey Swados
Harvey Swados, novelist and social critic, was born in Buffalo, New York, October 28, 1920, and died in Amherst, Massachusetts, December 11, 1972. His parents were Aaron Meyer Swados, a physician, and Rebecca Bluestone Swados, a painter. He married Bette Beller September 12, 1946. Their children are Marco, born 1947, Felice, 1949, and Robin, 1953. Swados received his B.A. in 1940 from the University of Michigan. From 1948, the Swados' "permanent" home was at Valley Cottage, Rockland County, New York, 20 miles north of Manhattan, until their move to Amherst, Massachusetts in 1970. Cagnes-Sur-Mer in Southern France was considered a second home.
Harvey Swados had two principal passions: politics and literature. "By temperament and conviction he was a socialist...His belief in the possibilities of a just society was as primitive in faith as it was sophisticated in judgment" (Katz, Leslie, "Thoughts after Harvey Swados" in American Journal, 4-10-73). According to Swados: "I remain a social radical, at once dismayed and exhilarated by my seemingly doomed yet endlessly optimistic native land" (unpublished autobiography). "To call himself a socialist meant for Harvey most of all to preserve the power of moral responsiveness...It meant, as he wrote..., 'My kinship has been with those writers who imply, even as they treat of trouble and terror, that the world could be better just as my commitment has been to those human beings who believe-despite every awful evidence to the contrary-that the world must be better'" (Howe, Irving, "Harvey Swados 1920-1972" in Dissent, Spring 1973).
Swados wrote both fiction and non-fiction. However, "a good deal of Swados' most effective work appears in his stories, a genre in which he takes chances and more often than not succeeds in making art out of his severe social criticism" (Shapiro, Charles, "Harvey Swados: Private Stories and Public Fiction" in Contemporary American Novelists, edited by Harry T. Moore, Southern Illinois University Press, 1964). His awards and honors through the years included: Hudson Review fellowship in fiction, 1957-58; Sidney Hillman Award, for "The Myth of the Happy Worker", 1958; Guggenheim fellowship, 1961-62; Philip M. Stern Family Fund Magazine Grant Program for UAW article, 1963; American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award in literature, 1965; Arts and Letters grant for art, 1965; University of Michigan Sesquicentennial Award, 1967; National Endowment for the Arts grant for fiction, 1967-68; Judge in 1970 Fiction Division of National Book Awards competition; and Five short stories included in Best American Short Stories annual volumes. He held professional memberships in the Authors League and P.E.N.
Swados played the flute, in chamber music with friends and in a local orchestra. Irving Howe states that "part of the fun of visiting the Swadoses was always the sense one had of a rich, intense family life, with its interweaving of politics and music and theater, its incomparable closeness and devotion" (Howe, "Harvey Swados 1920-1972").
Papers consist of journals, notes and reference materials, typewritten drafts of novels and short stories, galley proofs, clippings, and correspondence concerning writings; letters from family, publishers, literary agents, colleagues, friends and readers, including Richard Hofstadter, Saul Bellow, James Thomas Farrell, Herbert Gold, Irving Howe, Bernard Malamud, and Charles Wright Mills; letters from Swados, especially to family, friends, and editors; book reviews; notes, reference material, and drafts of speeches and lectures; financial records; material concerning teaching positions, workshops and seminars, awards and honors; biographical and autobiographical sketches; and bibliographies.
Acquired from Bette Swados, October 1978, with many letters written by Swados contributed later by friends. Additional materials, such as letters of condolence and separated manuscript materials, were provided by family members.
Processed by Virginia Conrad, 1980.
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Cite as: Harvey Swados Papers (MS 218). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.