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Guide to the Clay Felker Papers, 1945-1996

Abstract

Clay Felker (1925-2008) was an editor and publisher who edited magazines such as New York Magazine (which he founded in 1968), New West Magazine, Village Voice, and Esquire.

Collection includes materials from Felker's journalism career, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1968 through 1981. The majority of the materials relate to Felker's publishing and editorial work on New York Magazine, New West Magazine, Village Voice, Esquire, and Daily News Tonight. Included are story ideas and correspondence with various writers and editors; drafts of articles and columns; contract and legal negotiations; correspondence from Felker's fans and friends; budgetary materials; press clippings and news coverage; and other miscellaneous materials. Also includes copies of Duke University Chronicle, 1948-1952, dating from Felker's years as a writer and editor; copies of The Blue Jacket, 1944-1945, dating from Felker's years as a sports editor; some personal correspondence and materials from Felker's friends and family; and some other miscellaneous material.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Felker, Clay.
Title
Clay Felker papers 1945-1996
Language of Material
English
Extent
14.0 Linear Feet, 9000 Items
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

Collection includes materials from Felker's journalism career, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1968 through 1981. The majority of the materials relate to Felker's publishing and editorial work on New York magazine, New Westmagazine, Village Voice, Esquire, and Daily News Tonight. The collection contains the publications' annual reports, financial projections and budgets, circulation and advertising plans, and materials from stockholder questionnaires and meetings. Also included are story ideas and correspondence with various writers and editors, as well as drafts of articles and columns. Many materials are anonymous and undated, because the author's name is missing from Felker's version of the draft. Some writers and journalists represented in the collection include George Dennison, Benjamin Sonnenberg, Gail Sheehy (Felker's third wife), Aaron Latham, Robert Karen, Thomas Thompson, Arnold Beichman, Jimmy Breslin, Jane O'Reilly, Andrew Tobias, and many more.

Other magazine-related materials include contract and legal negotiations, particularly regarding Felker's launch of New York; his loss of New York and Village Voice; his acquisition of Esquire, The Advertiser, and AdWeek; and his subsequent loss of Esquire. Correspondence between Felker and various law firms involved in these sales and mergers is also included. There are also many letters, both congratulatory and condoling, reacting to his various career changes. Many of his friends and fans were powerful figures in the publishing world, including George Lang, Marianne Partridge, Peter Derow, Felix Rohatyn, Tom Wolfe, Gloria Steinem, Herb Goro, and Malcolm Forbes.

Press clippings covering Felker's career are also present in the collection, beginning with his early journalism career in the 1960s, but heavily covering his various publication acquisitions and activities as editor of New York, New West, Village Voice, Esquire, and The Daily News Tonight. Besides reporting on the acquisitions, these clippings also include profiles of Felker as well as evaluations and criticisms of his work. One subcomponent of the clippings includes coverage of the 1976 CIA press leak by Daniel Schorr to the Village Voice and the subsequent Congressional investigations.

The collection also includes files and materials from Felker's years as a producer at 20th Century Fox, where he proposed and developed story ideas for television and movies. The files include synopses of proposed scripts as well as expense reports for some of the research and travel he undertook.

The remainder of the collection is somewhat miscellaneous in content. There are issues of The Blue Jacket, 1944-1945, dating from Felker's years as a sports editor. Also represented are Felker's years at Duke, including his articles and editorials in a few issues of The Archive and Duke 'n' Duchess, as well as bound copies of the Duke University Chronicle, 1948-1952, dating from Felker's years as a writer and editor. There are also small amounts of correspondence and reports from some of Felker's other interests and ventures, many of which never went past the planning stages. There is some personal correspondence and materials from Felker's friends and family, dating largely from the 1970s, and some other miscellaneous material.

Administrative Information

A majority of collections are stored off site and must be requested at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Contact Rubenstein Library staff before visiting. Read More »

warning Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48 hours to retrieve these materials for research use.

Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Blue Jacket, July 1944-March 1945

Military newspaper with issues featuring Felker as Sports Editor.

(2 folders)
Box 1
The Archive (Duke University), February 1948-April 1948

Magazine issues with articles written by Felker.

Box 1
Duke 'N' Duchess (Duke University), September 1948-December 1948

Magazine issues featuring Felker as Assistant Editor.

Box 1
Correspondence, Duke-related, 1948
Box 1
Article drafts by Felker, 1956 and undated
Box 1
Casey Stengel's Secret, 1961

Book written by Felker.

Box 1
Felker News Service reports, 1962
Box 1
Teen magazine plans, undated
Box 1
International Intelligence Report, 1962-1963

Memos, plans, correspondence, etc.

(3 folders)
Box 1
Research and Reportage, Inc., 1963-1968
Box 1
The Girl of the Year movie plot, 1965
Box 1
Correspondence, miscellaneous, pre-1967
Box 1
Miscellaneous stories edited by Felker, undated
(3 folders)
Box 1
World Journal Tribune, 1967

Regarding the shut-down of its Sunday feature, New York Magazine.

Box 1
Capital, 1967

Correspondence between Felker and Adolph Theobald about setting up an independent magazine.

Box 1
Cheetah magazine venture, for people under 30, 1967
Box 1
Duke University, 1967-1976

Alumni affairs and donations.

Box 1
Correspondence, re: Felker family, 1968-1977

Includes condolence letters following the death of Felker's father, and recommendation letters for Felker's nephew.

Box 1
Scheduling and invite lists, 1967-1975

Guest lists for events, including New York Magazine and Village Voice programs.

Box 1
Clippings and press coverage, 1960s-1975

Coverage of Felker, his career, and his various publications.

(9 folders)
Box 1
Clippings and press coverage, 1975-1977
(4 folders)
Box 2
Phone log books, 1977-1979
(4 folders)
Box 2
Battle, Fowler, Stokes, and Kheel, 1968-1977

Includes correspondence and transcripts with Felker and Theodore Kheel, a lawyer who worked with Felker and the New York Magazine Company.

Box 2
Summer house, 1969-1975

Leases, etc., for house rentals on Long Island, N.Y.

Box 2
Miscellaneous article by George Dennison, undated
Box 2
Correspondence and articles by Benjamin Sonnenberg, undated
Box 2
Correspondence and articles by or about Lally Weymouth, 1976 and undated
Box 2
Pamela Tiffon/Clay Felker divorce, 1967-1975
Box 2
Correspondence and clippings by Gail Sheehy, 1972-1976
Box 2
The Colonel, undated

Draft by Marge Crumbaker and Gabe Tucker.

(4 folders)
Box 2
Herald Tribune's New York magazine (Sundays), 1965
Box 3
Founding and planning, 1968
Box 3
Annual reports, 1969-1975
Box 3
Budgets and budget projections, 1967-1974
(4 folders)
Box 3
Stockholder meetings, 1970-1973
Box 3
Annual issues, 1971-1972
Box 3
Editorial memos, 1974-1976

Internal correspondence between Felker and his editors, including discussions of the magazine's news coverage, etc.

Box 3
Flow of Reading study, 1975
Box 3
Bonuses/salaries, 1975
Box 3
Circulation, 1971-1975
(2 folders)
Box 3
Legal guidelines, 1975-1976
Box 3
Stockholders Questionnaire, 1976
Box 3
Board of Directors, 1971-1976
Box 3
Copyright, 1973-1976
Box 3
Agreements between Felker and Carter Burden, 1975
Box 3
Advertising reports, 1975-1976
Box 3
Drafts of articles, 1970s and undated

Reporters and writers represented inclue Arnold Beichman, Paul Gardner, Robert Karen, Aaron Latham, Barth Schwartz, Charles Sopkin, and Thomas Thompson.

(3 folders)
Box 3
Story ideas and other drafts, 1968-1976

Reporter, writer, editor, and agency correspondence with Clay Felker for New York Magazine articles and ideas, including Ken Auletta, John Berendt, Jimmy Breslin, John Bryson, Jon Carroll, Rasa Gustaitis, Anthony Haden-Guess, George Harris, Judith Kipper, Joan Kron, Aaron Latham, Leonard Mosley, Jane O'Reilly, Richard Reeves, Edgar Scherick, Gail Sheehy, Andrew Tobias, and John Walsh.

(4 folders)
Box 3
Draft of Abraham Michael Rosenthal/New York Times profile, undated
Box 3
Correspondence, with Tony Mayer, 1976
Box 3
Ms. magazine, Felker's personal finances, 1972-1975
Box 3
MAC/Jim Kelly, 1973-1975
Box 3
Felker's employment contracts, 1972-1976

Includes negotiations and contracts for New Yorkmagazine and Village Voice.

Box 3
Village Voice stockholders, 1974
Box 4
Clippings and coverage of the Village Voice's CIA leak with Daniel Schorr, 1976
(3 folders)
Box 4
New West finances and advertisements, 1975-1976
(2 folders)
Box 4
New West clippings and coverage, 1976
Box 4
New West story ideas, 1976
Box 4
New West Magazine, 1980
Box 4
Research reports, New York Magazine Company, 1975-1976
Box 4
Murdoch's purchase of New York Magazine Company, 1976
Box 4
L'Express, 1977
Box 4
Stigwood Group, 1977-1978

Includes contracts, correspondence, and other materials from the joint venture between Felker and Stigwood Group for literary and movie projects.

Box 4
The American Lawyer, 1978-1979
Box 4
Felker's purchase of Esquire, 1977
Box 4
Congratulatory letters, 1977

Includes correspondence from Dorothy Monet, George Lang, Marianne Partridge, Peter Derow, Richard Wald, Felix Rohatyn, Terry Gwyn, David Brown, Barrett Gallagher (includes photograph portfolio), Herb Goro, Albert Goldman, and Malcolm Forbes.

Box 4
Press clippings and coverage of Esquire, 1977-1979
(3 folders)
Box 4
Reports and finances, 1978-1979
Box 4
Board of Directors reports and finances, 1977-1979
Box 4
Sale, 1978-1979
Box 4
Purchase of N.E. Corporation, 1979
Box 4
Mail about Esquire, 1977-1979

Includes general fan mail as well as condolence notes for Felker after losing Esquire; writers include Gary Trudeau, Geoffrey Norman, Gloria Steinem, and Ted Hearne.

Box 5
Felker Communications Inc., 1979-1982

Correspondence regarding the purchase of other papers.

Box 5
Winslow Maxwell and Partners, invoices and correspondence, 1978-1981
Box 5
The Advertiser, 1978-1981

Includes materials from its purchase by Felker, insurance papers, content, advertising, profits, and employees.

(3 folders)
Box 5
AdWeek, 1981-1982

Includes materials on its columns and finances.

(2 folders)
Box 5
East Bay Newspapers, Inc., 1981-1982
Box 5
Travel expenses, 1979-1982
(2 folders)
Box 5
Expenses, 1967-1978
(13 folders)
Box 5
Duke Chronicle clippings, 1948-1951
Box 6
Broadside Art, Inc., 1967-1968
Box 6
Clay Felker Publications, 1967-1969
Box 6
London magazine project, 1972-1974
Box 6
New York magazine office furniture, 1974-1976
Box 6
Riverdale Press acquisition, 1977
Box 6
Speeches and articles by Felker, 1968-1979
(3 folders)
Box 6
Thesis on its history, 1973
Box 6
Correspondence and reports, 1974 and undated
Box 6
Promotions and advertising, 1974
Box 6
Subscriber surveys and lawsuit, 1973-1975
Box 6
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, 1980
Box 7
Employment, 1980-1981
Box 7
Congratulatory letters, 1981
Box 7
Press clippings and coverage, 1980-1981
(2 folders)
Box 7
Focus groups, editorials, and plans, 1980
Box 7
Operations, 1980
Box 7
Promotions and advertising, 1980-1981
Box 7
Name files, A-F, 1980-1981

Name files include correspondence, story ideas, notes, clippings, and drafts from Felker's time at Daily News.

(3 folders)
Box 7
Name files, G-Z
Box 8
Correspondence, Mike O'Neill, 1980-1981
Box 8
Correspondence, Liz Smith, 1980-1981
Box 8
Stigwood Group story, 1981
Box 8
Expenses, 1980-1981
Box 8
Active story numbers, 1980
Box 9
Submissions, 1979-1980
Box 9
Rejections, 1979-1980
Box 9
Untitled Brazilian Rock and Roll (Rio), with Aaron Latham
(2 folders)
Box 9
Hip Capitalism, with writer Jack Nessel
Box 9
Jacques Mesrine story, with writer Harry Stein
Box 9
Lisa Lyon, body building
Box 9
Mob Lawyer, with Steven Brill
Box 9
Preppie, 1980
Box 9
Redneck Riviera, with Geoffrey Norman, 1980
Box 9
Super Thief, with Tom Zitto, 1980
Box 9
Woman of the Year, undated
Box 9
Woman Who Has Everything, 1967
Box 9
Weekly advance to producer reports, 1979-1980
Box 9
General correspondence and miscellaneous movies, 1980-1981
Box 9
Movie studio funding, undated
Box 9
Los Angeles to New York trips, 1980
Box 9
Correspondence, personal, 1980
Box 9
Correspondence, Richard Berger, 1980
Box 9
Correspondence, Claire Townsend, 1980
Box 9
Correspondence, Dennis Stanfill, 1980
Box 9
Notebooks, 1993 and undated
Box 9
Exclusive right to sell, New York apartment, 1996
Box 9
Duke University Chronicle, 1948-1952

Oversize bound issues from Felker's career at the Chronicle.

Box 10

Historical Note

Chronology List

DateEvent(s)
1925 October 2Born, Webster Grove, Mo.
1942Entered Duke University
1943Left Duke University to join the Navy
1948Editor, Duke Chronicle newspaper
1948Expelled from Duke for staying out with his date, Leslie Blatt, past the Women's College curfew
1949Married Leslie Blatt
1950Re-enrolled at Duke University
1951Graduated Duke University
1950-1951Worked as a statistician with New York Giants broadcasting
1951-1954Sports writer for Life magazine
1954Helped develop Sports Illustrated
1954-1957Political reporter in Washington for Life magazine
1957-1962Features editor, Esquire
1962Married Pamela Tiffin, an actress and fashion model
1963-1967Editor, New York, the Sunday supplement magazine of the New York Herald Tribune
1966Herald Tribune, World-Telegram and Sun, and Journal-American merged into the World Journal Tribune
1967World Journal Tribune folded; Felker purchased naming rights to New York
1969-1976Editor, New York magazine
1969Divorced Pamela Tiffin
1971 DecemberNew York issue included an insert of selections from Ms. magazine
1972 JanuaryFunded first stand-alone issue of Ms. magazine
1974New York Magazine Company merged with The Village Voice; Felker became editor of The Village Voice
1975New York spin-off, New West, began publishing in California
1976Lost control of New York Magazine Company to Rupert Murdoch; resigned as editor of New York
1977 AugustPurchased Esquire magazine; became Esquire editor
1979Sold Esquire magazine; resigned as editor
1980-1981Editor, The Daily News Tonight, a division of The New York Daily News
1980-1981Producer, 20th Century Fox
1981-1982Editor, AdWeek
1984Married Gail Sheehy, a writer
1987-1990Editor, Manhattan Inc. magazine
1994Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley
2008 July 1Died, New York City, New York

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Clay Felker Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Clay Felker Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2010.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, November 2010

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, November 2010

This collection is minimally processed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.