Fonds RBSC-ARC-1768 - Maxim Lieber fonds

Title and statement of responsibility area

Title proper

Maxim Lieber fonds

General material designation

  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title based on contents of the fonds.

Level of description

Fonds

Reference code

RBSC-ARC-1768

Edition area

Edition statement

Edition statement of responsibility

Class of material specific details area

Statement of scale (cartographic)

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1923-1990, predominant 1965-1985 (Creation)
    Creator
    Lieber, Maxim

Physical description area

Physical description

3 cm of textual records
1 photograph : b&w ; 5 x 6 cm

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1897-1993)

Biographical history

Maxim Lieber was born in Warsaw, Poland to Jewish parents in 1897. In 1907, his family moved to New York City, where they settled in the Bronx.

In 1918, Lieber joined the West Ontario Regiment of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. In 1919, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, from which he was honorably discharged in 1920. After serving the in the army, Lieber founded a New York-based publishing house, Lieber & Lewis, which was eventually taken over by Albert Boni in 1923. In 1925, Lieber co-edited an anthology entitled Great Short Stories of the World for this publisher. From 1926-1930, Lieber worked as head of publishing for Brentano’s, an independent bookstore and publishing company.

In 1930, Lieber created the Maxim Lieber Literary Agency. Many significant authors were represented by the agency. It is likely that Langston Hughes, Erskine Caldwell, John Cheever, Nathan Asch, Bob Coates, Carson McCullers, Josephine Herbst, Thomas Wolfe, Louis Adamic, and more were affiliated with it, though in the absence of more detailed records in the Lieber fonds, this assertion cannot be confirmed. Lieber remained working at his agency until 1950.

Lieber, his wife, and their children moved to Mexico in 1951. Whittaker Chambers claimed in his 1952 memoir Witness that Lieber was involved in Communist espionage activities in New York City, which may explain Lieber’s departure from the United States. In 1954, Lieber moved with his family to Warsaw, Poland. After taking up brief residency in the United Kingdom in 1968, the Liebers returned to the United States, settling in East Hartford, Connecticut. Lieber died in this town on April 10, 1993.

Custodial history

Maxim Lieber did not retain detailed accounts of his career as writer, editor, and literary agent. Many of the records that were in his possession—particularly correspondence between himself and other writers, agents, and publishers dating from 1922 onward—were destroyed by members of the Lieber family when they left the United States in 1951. At this time, Lieber’s book collection was also disposed of. In 1968, more of Lieber’s records were lost when the family moved from Poland. The surviving records in the fonds were donated to Rare Books and Special Collections in April 2017 by Harry Lieber, son of Maxim Lieber.

Scope and content

The fonds primarily features Maxim Lieber’s personal correspondence, particularly from 1965-1985; correspondence with academics interested in aspects of his personal and professional life; and publishing contracts for his edited anthologies. Additionally, some personal correspondence belongs to Maxim Lieber’s wife, Minna Lieber. Significant individuals represented include Langston Hughes, Erskine Caldwell, Malcolm Cowley, Vladimir Solomonovich Pozner, Howard Fast, Albert Maltz (of the Hollywood Ten), and Allen Weinstein (author of Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case).

Records are arranged in files. Documentary forms include the following: personal correspondence; signed copies of poems; a photograph of Langston Hughes from 1965; signed contracts for Lieber’s various edited anthologies; and cheque stubs.

Notes area

Physical condition

Records in the fonds are generally in good condition. Some correspondence is on highly acidic paper. Additionally, some ink is beginning to fade from paper records, which will eventually obscure readability.

Immediate source of acquisition

Arrangement

The archivist maintained records, both physically and intellectually, in the order in which they were received. It is unclear if this order is Maxim Lieber’s original order.

Language of material

Script of material

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

Restrictions on access

No access restrictions have been applied.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Some records in the fonds are protected under copyright. Permission to reproduce copyrighted materials must be obtained from the copyright holder(s). See archivist for details.

Finding aids

Associated materials

Langston Hughes Papers, 1862-1980: Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Charles Humboldt Papers, 1910-1964: Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Victor Jeremy Jerome Papers, 1923-1967: Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Related materials

Accruals

No further accruals are expected.

General note

Contains RBSC-ARC-1768-PH-01.

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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Description created by Gillian Dunks in July 2017.

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Accession area