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Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]
Extent: 233 boxes
The papers document the literary career, professional endeavors, rabbinical work, and personal life of 20th-century writer Chaim Potok. The collection comprises personal and professional correspondence, writings, lectures, sermons, research, drawings, promotional material, contracts, memorabilia, and letters from admirers. Potok’s writing process can be traced from conception to publication: from notebooks for ideas, outlines, hand-written drafts, and annotated typescripts and galleys. Some works took on many forms and required several collaborations: one example, The Chosen, his first novel, published in 1967, was adapted into a film, a musical, and a play. There are over 1500 correspondents, including colleagues, family members, and friends. Potok’s working and social relationships are demonstrated in letters with his editor, Robert Gottlieb, and with scholars such as Jonas C. Greenfield, Moshe Greenberg, and Nahum M. Sarna. Other correspondents include writers Elie Wiesel, Saul Bellow, and Cynthia Ozick. The papers record aspects of Potok’s life with his family while living in Israel from 1973 to 1977. Also preserved is his detailed correspondence with the Slepak family for his study of the refusniks, resulting in the publication of The Gates of November in 1996. Further displaying his multi-faceted life and career are drawings and children’s books.