Atlantic Monthly, The

The Atlantic Monthly collection consists of two series: records of two lawsuits involving the Atlantic Monthly Company (1972-1981) and editorial correspondence (1965-2005).

The first series includes material regarding Anthony Herbert’s libel suit against the Atlantic Monthly. Herbert was a retired Army officer who had served in Vietnam; in 1969-1970, he accused his superior officers of covering up evidence of war crimes and atrocities committed by the United States Army. In 1973, reporter Barry Lando reported on Herbert and his accusations for the CBS television program 60 Minutes, and later wrote a related article published in the Atlantic Monthly. Herbert claimed that Lando had portrayed him as a liar making false claims and accusations to explain his relief from command. He then sued Lando, Mike Wallace (who narrated Lando’s CBS report), CBS, and the Atlantic Monthly for defamation in Federal District Court; he also claimed damage to the literary value of his recently published memoir regarding his accusations. Lando claimed that under the First Amendment, Herbert had no right to ask certain questions regarding Lando’s state of mind and editorial decisions; the Federal District Court rejected this claim, but the Appeals Court accepted it. Finally, the Supreme Court ruled in Herbert v. Lando (1979) that Herbert could ask Lando these questions. The collection includes the depositions of Barry Lando (1974-1975, 1979), as well as Atlantic Monthly editors Robert Manning (1975), Richard Todd (1976), and others associated with the magazine. After ten years in court, Herbert finally lost his case when an appeals court found that Lando’s claims on the 60 Minutes program were either accurate or not actionable. Other material regarding the Anthony Herbert case in this series includes a manuscript titled The Herbert Affair; a copy of the Atlantic Monthly (May, 1973); copies of other newspapers and magazines with coverage of the Herbert case (1972-1979); and correspondence regarding the case (1971-1979).

This series also includes legal material regarding a different libel case (1976-1980).

The second series, editorial correspondence, consists of numerous files arranged chronologically by year, and alphabetically within each year. The files primarily contain correspondence involving four Atlantic Monthly senior editors: C. Michael Curtis (Associate and later Senior Editor), Robert Manning (Editor-in-Chief), Richard Todd (Associate and later Executive Editor and Senior Editor), and Peter H. Davison (Staff Editor, Poetry); it is heaviest for Curtis and Davison (though not particularly extensive). There is much material, often letters to the editor, pertaining to James Fallows, Washington Editor for many of these years. Many of the magazine’s other Staff Editors, Contributing Editors, and Correspondents have individual files in some or all of these years. This is true of Phoebe Lou Adams, Ward Just, John L’Heureux, Sanford J. Ungar, Gregg Easterbrook, and Seymour Hersh. There are some files pertaining to Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Chairman of the Editorial Board of The Atlantic Monthly Company; this list is not extensive.

In addition to the above files, special folders for authors, editors, agents, publishers, or other individuals or organizations of interest to the Atlantic Monthly are interfiled in the general editorial correspondence files. These files include letters from authors or agents; frequently, the editor wrote his reply in pencil on the letter, then stapled a copy of the editor’s typed reply to the incoming letter. The files also contain telegrams to and/or from authors, phone messages, letters of evaluation solicited from third parties, memoranda, newspaper clippings, reviews, fragments of manuscripts in which corrections are proposed, and occasionally photographs of the authors. Many letters to the editor from interested readers can be found in some of the files.

Notable individuals with “name” files are too numerous to list in full. They include Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood, Louis Auschincloss, Nicholson Baker, John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Jacques Barzun, Saul Bellow, Nathaniel Benchley, Alvah Bessie, Bruno Bettleheim, Jorge Luis Borges, T. Coraghessen Boyle, William F. Buckley, Jr., Raymond Carver, John Cheever, John Ciardi, Robert Coles, Michael Crichton, Roald Dahl, Annie Dillard, E. L. Doctorow, Richard Eberhart, Roger Ebert, Milton Friedman, John Kenneth Galbraith, John Gardner, Robert Gottlieb, Stephen Jay Gould, Günter Grass, Robert Graves, Germaine Greer, David Halberstam, Arianna S. Huffington, Ted Hughes, Samuel P. Huntington, Alfred Kazin, Garrison Keillor, Philip Knightley, Jonathan Kozol, Stanley Kunitz, Bernard Malamud, Larry McMurtry, James Merrill, W. S. Merwin, Arthur Miller, Toni Morrison, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Alice Munro, Vladimir Nabokov, Howard Nemerov, Elliot Norton, Joyce Carol Oates, Cynthia Ozick, Katha Pollitt, Katherine Anne Porter, Ezra Pound, V. S. Pritchett, Carl Sagan, William Saroyan, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Isaac Bashevis Singer, Wallace Stegner, Paul Theroux, Calvin Trillin, John Updike, Peter Ustinov, Gore Vidal, Robert Penn Warren, Garry Wills, Virginia Woolf, Richard Yates, and many others. Please note that the lack of an individual file did not mean that the Atlantic Monthly was not interested in an author, nor did it mean that the author’s work was rejected by the magazine, although this was often the case. Also, the presence of an individual file did not always mean that an author’s work was accepted for publication (though usually it did). A “name” file will not necessarily contain correspondence from the author whose name is on the file; frequently the letters will be from the author’s agent. Additionally, many prominent authors are represented in the general files; a lack of an individual file for them usually means there is little material concerning them. It may also indicate that they were not frequent contributors to the Atlantic Monthly.

Internal finding aids can also be found in some files. An annual “Contributor’s List” is one; also three files titled “National Magazine Awards” (1975-1977) provide a means of searching for authors and articles. Some years have an “Inventories” file which lists authors, articles, and fees paid; some years also have an “Awards” file listing awards won by articles that appeared in that year’s Atlantic Monthly . Some years have a “Specials Received” or just “Specials” file, which lists materials sent to the magazine. Annual inventories can sometimes be found under the files pertaining to C. Michael Curtis.

Other material in the collection includes publication proposals, dust jackets, catalogs, and microfilms (1960-1964).

Associated Subjects
1. Literary Collections Subject Guide
2. Editing and Publishing Subject Guide
3. Literature publishing – United States
4. Fiction – History and criticism
5. Periodicals – Publishing – United States
6. Periodicals – Publishing – Massachusetts – Boston
7. American literature--History and criticism
8. Publishers and publishing – Massachusetts – Boston