Black Sparrow Press Archive

This collection comprises archival materials related to the Black Sparrow Press from its founding in April 1966 to November 1970. The press was one of the most important private presses on the west coast of the United States, and it endured for 36 years. Its importance came from publishing some of the most avant-garde writers of the period. Black Sparrow editions, published in limited runs, represent some of the most remarkable examples of fine press work in the late twentieth century. Publisher John Martin sold his collection of D.H. Lawrence first editions in order to finance Black Sparrow and to regularly publish Charles Bukowski’s poetry, among works of other innovative writers, including John Ashbery, Diane Wakoski, Charles Reznikoff, and Kenneth Koch. Totalling over one thousand items, the Black Sparrow Press Archive includes manuscript drafts, typescripts, corrected proofs and galleys, letters, posters, original artwork, photographs, master reel-to-reel recordings, and various peripheral materials related to publications of the press. This archive is unusual in that the publisher deliberately gathered material artifacts related to press publications, preparing a collection for potential buyers. In 1969, the University of Alberta Library purchased the first 94 files of the press; however, in 1970 purchases discontinued due to the lack of funding. As a result, the balance of the Black Sparrow Archive is now located in numerous other North American institutions. This collection presents research opportunities in the socio-economics of small press operations, the history of the book, and the work of associated writers and poets. Users can learn more about the Black Sparrow Press Archive and access a bibliographical list of records that has been archived here.

To learn about the work currently underway to revive the Black Sparrow Press, see "Press On: Black Sparrow is Back," Los Angeles Review of Books (19 Sept 2022) by Josh Sherman.

Collection Formats: 20th Century, Art Work, Correspondence, Manuscripts, Photographs -- click to see other collections with this format