Matusow Papers II

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The collection comprises autograph, typescript and printed papers, photographs, tape-recordings, film, embracing correspondence, drafts, press-cuttings, periodical issues and scripts. See Administrative/Biographical History.

Administrative / Biographical History

See the collection level record for SxMs 8, Matusow Papers I, for Harvey Matusow's early life and, in 1950-54, service as an informer to the FBI on the Communist Party and as an official witness in cases heard before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, etc., and, in 1955, his trial and imprisonment for giving false testimony. This portion of the Archive contains some personalia (relating to family members) and further material documenting Matusow's involvement with Senator Joe McCarthy, both in the 1952 Presidential election campaign (as pro-Republican speaker) and as assistant in a project to undermine public trust in the New York Times. His prison correspondence is also included. Matusow has described prison as 'the university I never attended' and he spent his time directing plays and painting canvases.

The principal focus of this part of the Matusow archive is 'alternative culture' in New York and London, with particular strength in the late 1960s and early 1970s. On his release from prison in 1960, Matusow worked his way in to the New York art scene and, by 1963 was editor and publisher of listings magazine The New York Arts Calendar. He also wrote and edited The Art Collector's Almanac, a well-received book, but increasing bitterness and a sense that he would never be truly forgiven for his acts in the previous decade drove him deeper into counter culture. He became involved in New York's first underground newspaper, The East Village Other(EVO) and, on moving to London in 1966, began to contribute to its closest British equivalent, the equally groundbreaking International Times (IT). The collection is strong on small-press, counter culture magazines of this era and the Matusow Archive includes copies of EVO, IT, Friends/Frendz, INK, Oz (including the published account of the notorious Oz obscenity trial and the infamous 'School Kids' issue), Crawdaddyand Forum. There are drafts of articles and reviews Matusow penned for various publications and a copy of his interview with Norman Mailer for IT in 1968 (Matusow had made Mailer's acquaintance two years earlier).

After the anti-Communist paranoia of the 1950s, Matusow's years of freedom found him allied to another movement driven by distrust and a perceived threat to individual liberty. In the late 1960s, he became involved with the Anti-Computer Campaign and organised the International Society for the Abolition of Data-Processing Machines. His activity and interest is recorded in the form of contemporaneous newspaper and magazine articles voicing concern over the growth of technology. Matusow's work spawned a book, The Beast of Business: A record of computer atrocities(1968), and his stance, very much the product of a new technological era, parallels that of contemporary but better-known thinkers such as Lewis Mumford.

More tangential and esoteric strengths of the second part of the Matusow Archive include two boxes of material on Wilhelm Reich of 'Orgone Box' fame, a fellow inmate from Matusow's prison years. Reich's extravagant claims for his inventions and experiments had led to prosecution by the Food and Drugs Administration for fraud, and Matusow's collection contains a transcript of Reich's (unsuccessful) appeal against his conviction. Magazine articles and copies of Reich journal Organic Functionalism(Rutter Press) from the late 1950s and early 1960s are also included.

One further dimension to Matusow's work well represented in the Archive is his involvement with music. He staged concerts of John Cage's compositions and organised ICES-72 (International Carnival of Electronic Sound). Married at the time to minimalist musician Anna Lockwood, Matusow also had a band of his own: Harvey Matusow's Jew's Harp Band. The Archive contains some arts and music magazines with related features from the period, including Time Outand Rolling Stone. There is also documentation of the staging of ICES and the process of making his own recordings.

This part of Matusow's archive ends with his return to the USA in 1973. His summary of his life down to 1996 is (September 2002) at www.ibiblio.org/mal/ MO/matusow.

Conditions Governing Access

Items in the collection may be consulted for the purpose of private study and personal research, within the controlled environment and restrictions of The Keep's Reading Rooms.

Acquisition Information

Presented by Harvey Matusow in June 1974.

Note

Prepared by John Farrant, September 2002.

Other Finding Aids

An online catalogue is available on The Keep's website.

Conditions Governing Use

COPIES FOR PRIVATE STUDY: Subject to copyright, conditions imposed by owners and protecting the documents, digital copies can be made.

PUBLICATION: A reader wishing to publish material in the collection should contact the Head of Special Collections, in writing. The reader is responsible for obtaining permission to publish from the copyright owner.

Related Material

SxMS 8 Matusow Papers I, for Harvey Matusow's early life and, in 1950-54, service as an informer to the FBI on the Communist Party and as an official witness in cases heard before the House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities, etc., and, in 1955, his trial and imprisonment for giving false testimony.