Guide to the Clay Felker Papers, 1945-1996
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.
- Collection Number
- Clay Felker papers
- Felker, Clay
- 14 Linear Feet, 9000 Items
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Material in English
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.
Access to the Collection
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.
Use & Permissions
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.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Clay Felker Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Military newspaper with issues featuring Felker as Sports Editor.
Magazine issues with articles written by Felker.
Magazine issues featuring Felker as Assistant Editor.
Correspondence between Felker and Adolph Theobald about setting up an independent magazine.
Includes condolence letters following the death of Felker's father, and recommendation letters for Felker's nephew.
Guest lists for events, including New York Magazine and Village Voice programs.
Coverage of Felker, his career, and his various publications.
Includes correspondence and transcripts with Felker and Theodore Kheel, a lawyer who worked with Felker and the New York Magazine Company.
Internal correspondence between Felker and his editors, including discussions of the magazine's news coverage, etc.
Reporters and writers represented inclue Arnold Beichman, Paul Gardner, Robert Karen, Aaron Latham, Barth Schwartz, Charles Sopkin, and Thomas Thompson.
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.
Includes negotiations and contracts for New Yorkmagazine and Village Voice.
Includes contracts, correspondence, and other materials from the joint venture between Felker and Stigwood Group for literary and movie projects.
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.
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.
Includes materials from its purchase by Felker, insurance papers, content, advertising, profits, and employees.
Name files include correspondence, story ideas, notes, clippings, and drafts from Felker's time at Daily News.
|1925 October 2||
Born, Webster Grove, Mo.
Entered Duke University
Left Duke University to join the Navy
Editor, Duke Chronicle newspaper
Expelled from Duke for staying out with his date, Leslie Blatt, past the Women's College curfew
Married Leslie Blatt
Re-enrolled at Duke University
Graduated Duke University
Worked as a statistician with New York Giants broadcasting
Sports writer for Life magazine
Helped develop Sports Illustrated
Political reporter in Washington for Life magazine
Features editor, Esquire
Married Pamela Tiffin, an actress and fashion model
Editor, New York, the Sunday supplement magazine of the New York Herald Tribune
Herald Tribune, World-Telegram and Sun, and Journal-American merged into the World Journal Tribune
World Journal Tribune folded; Felker purchased naming rights to New York
Editor, New York magazine
Divorced Pamela Tiffin
New York issue included an insert of selections from Ms. magazine
Funded first stand-alone issue of Ms. magazine
New York Magazine Company merged with The Village Voice; Felker became editor of The Village Voice
New York spin-off, New West, began publishing in California
Lost control of New York Magazine Company to Rupert Murdoch; resigned as editor of New York
Purchased Esquiremagazine; became Esquireeditor
Sold Esquiremagazine; resigned as editor
Editor, The Daily News Tonight, a division of The New York Daily News
Producer, 20th Century Fox
Married Gail Sheehy, a writer
Editor, Manhattan Inc. magazine
Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley
|2008 July 1||
Died, New York City, New York
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- 20th Century-Fox
- Duke University -- Periodicals
- Felker, Clay
- Felker, Clay
- Murdoch, Rupert, 1931-
- New York Magazine Company
The Clay Felker Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a gift in 2010.
Processed by Meghan Lyon, November 2010
Encoded by Meghan Lyon, November 2010
Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.