Processed by Crystal Alberts: Summer 2003, 2004
Processed by Benjamin Cooper: Summer 2005
At Fortress FAE, before shipping, the older boxes in which the
collection was packed (some of them apparently Gaddis' own liquor
boxes), had to be replaced as they were water damaged. Often the
shipping cartons into which the materials were placed were smaller
than the original boxes, and so were re-numbered using letters of the
alphabet. For example, during pre-shipping pre-processing, a box
numbered 20 in the original booksellers inventory might be replaced
with three cartons numbered 20a, 20b, and 20c. The same process was
used with oversize folders, in order to save wear and tear on the
materials as they were shipped. There is a shipping inventory that
describes all of this. In addition to housing problems, a large
portion of the collection was in poor order, but the decision was made
to ship the materials and address the organization of the collection
at Washington University.
The William Gaddis Papers arrived from Fortress FAE in New York
City after having been packed in 42 archival cartons. They were
accompanied by 3 pallets of books from his working library. The
collection arrived with two inventories: one created by the bookseller
and a partial inventory created and maintained by William Gaddis
through 1994. The bookseller's inventory roughly followed
In the course of processing at the university, the box numbers
established by the bookseller's inventory were retained with the
materials, but processing and preservation issues required a different
arrangement with a new enumeration of boxes and folders. When an item
was moved from a location in the intial inventory, a separation note
was added to describe from where the item was taken and to where it
Currently the collection is housed in buffered archival folders and
8 1/2 x 14 clamshell manuscript boxes.
The correspondence in the collection was surveyed at Washington
University. Two sorts of correspondence files were in the collection.
There were files consisting of correspondence alone. These
correspondence files were filed in chronological order by year in a
correspondence series. Other correspondence within files was left
where it was.
The novel drafts were left in the order in which Gaddis and/or the
bookseller placed them. Some of the longer drafts were placed in
multiple folders where this was necessary for preservation purposes.
In certain cases, some of the drafts in the collection were created by
Gaddis using strips of paper with typed text taped or glued to other
pieces of paper. These were placed in protective mylar sleeves and
photocopied. At times the strips had fallen off of the page because of
the deterioration of the tape or glue. If this occurred, processors
noted that the original order was lost.
The collection contains a large amount of newspaper print materials
and faxed items. As Gaddis's works engage popular culture so
intensely, these have been retained within the collection. There is no
telling which bit of popular culture may have found its way into his
novels. The most at risk of these items are being photocopied for
preservation purposes. Occasionally, the items are so faded and/or
deteriorated that they require a transcription by the processor in
order to preserve the information. When this occurs, the processor
makes a note that a transciption was made of the original. Rarely, the
item is too damaged and/or faded to preserve the information.
Business papers consists of contracts and royalty statements found
in correspondence files. These materials were transferred to their own
series for preservation purposes.
Personal papers consists of materials related to personal, medical,
and educational business, as well as genealogy that were found in
correspondence files. These materials were transferred to their own
series for preservation purposes.
The audiovisual series consists of cassette tapes, a Beta
videocassette, photographs and negatives originally found throughout
the collection. They were gathered into a separate series during the
processing of the collection for preservation purposes. Most items
have a separation note describing from which folder the item was
Bound texts found in the collection, particularly those found in
boxes designated by the bookseller as 12, 26-29, 41-42, were moved to
Rare Books for cataloging. The books that made up William Gaddis'
Working Library were also moved to Rare Books for cataloging. Whenever
a bound text was transferred from the collection to Rare Books, a
separation note was added.
A limited amount of material in the William Gaddis Papers has been
designated by the copyright holders as restricted. As such, these
materials were transferred into manuscript boxes with their own
numbering system and are found in the series entitled Restricted
Any items determined to be oversize were transferred from the
location they were in when the collection arrived at Washington
University to an oversize location for preservation purposes.
Generally, separation notes accompany these items.
By accession at end of collection.
Purchased from the Estate of William Gaddis ca. March 2002.
Users of the collections must read and abide by the University
Department of Special Collections Rules for the use of manuscript collection materials
Users of the collections who wish to use items from this
collection, in whole or in part, in any form of publication (as
defined in the form) must sign and submit to the Washington University
Department of Special Collections a hard copy of the Notification of intent publish manuscript collection
All publication not covered by fair use restricted to those who
have permission of the copyright holder.
Copyright to significant portions of the collection held by Matthew
and Sarah Gaddis. All inquiries concerning publication should be
directed to The Wylie Agency. This information was current as of
August 11, 2004.
The Wylie Agency
250 West 57th Street, Suite 2114
New York, NY 10107.