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Sterling Lord Papers

Call Number



1946-2014, inclusive
; 1952-1998, bulk


Lord, Sterling, 1920-
Sterling Lord Literistic Agency


442.5 Linear Feet in 436 record cartons, 5 manuscript boxes, and 3 oversize flat boxes.

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


Sterling Lord founded the Sterling Lord Agency in 1952 (later to become Sterling Lord Literistic). He has worked with well-known writers, such as Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Anne Sexton, and the Berenstains. This collection contains Lord's professional papers, including financial records, contracts, correspondence, and subject files for the many authors he has worked with. Books and other print material represented by Sterling Lord are also included.

Biographical Note

Sterling Lord was born in Burlington, Iowa in 1920. He had an interest in tennis from a young age, and in high school became involved in sports journalism, calling in tennis scores to the local newspapers, and writing for his school newspaper. Lord's passion for tennis brought him to Grinnell College in Iowa. After college, he was drafted into the army, where he studied electronics and radar before being transferred to Europe. At the end of WWII, Lord started working for the European edition of "Stars and Stripes", an army publication. There he became the editor for "Weekend", a weekly magazine, which was shortly thereafter shut down by the army. Lord and Richard Evan Jones, the editor in chief, continued printing the magazine as a private enterprise, with offices in Frankfurt and, eventually, in Paris, where Lord met his wife, artist Dodie Yencesse. When "Weekend" folded in the late 1940's, Lord moved to New York City.

During his first two years in New York, Lord worked as an editor for three different magazines. Deciding that that the magazine industry was too unstable, Lord opened up a literary agency with partner Stanley Colbert in 1952. After a couple of years, Colbert left the agency and in 1954 it became the Sterling Lord Agency. During the early years of the agency, Lord mostly managed non-fiction and ghost writers, such as Charlie Samuels, John Keats, Rowland Barker and Al Hirshberg. That was also the period when he met, and started working with, Jack Kerouac. The agency grew quickly as Lord and the authors he published made names for themselves.

In 1987, Sterling Lord Agency merged with the firm Literistic, and has since continued to serve the literary community. Throughout the years, the Sterling Lord Literistic Agency has managed many well known authors such as Terry Southern, David Wise, Jimmy Breslin, Anne Sexton, Erica Jong, the Berenstain family, and many others.


This collection is organized into six series: Series I. Subject Files; Series II. Financial, Administrative, and Legal; Series III. Media; Series IV. May 2016 Accretion; Series V. June 2016 Accretions; and Series VI. Print Materials.

Series I, Subseries A: General subject files, is arranged chronologically by year, and alphabetically within each year. The rest of the collection is arranged alphabetically. Series IV and V have not been arranged by an archivist.

Scope and Content

This collection contains records created by Sterling Lord and the Sterling Lord Literistic Agency, including correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, promotional material, contracts, personnel files, financial records, and books and print material represented by the agency. The bulk of the collection comprises subject files of the authors who were managed by Sterling Lord and others at the agency. The collection covers a brief period of time before Sterling Lord founded the agency, and throughout the agency's operation, up to 2013.

Conditions Governing Access

Donor permission is required for access. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright (or related rights to publicity and privacy) for materials in this collection was not transferred to New York University. Permission to use materials must be secured from the copyright holder. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Preferred Citation

Published citations should take the following form:

Identification of item, date (if known); Sterling Lord Papers; MSS 058; box number; folder number; Fales Library and Special Collections, New York University Libraries.

Location of Materials

Some materials are stored offsite and advance notice is required for use. Please request materials at least two business days prior to your research visit to coordinate access.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Sterling Papers were was donated to NYU Libraries by Sterling Lord in two sections, in 1969 and 2010. In May of 2016 Paulina Calistru (on behalf of Sterling Lord) donated an addition to the collection. The accession number associated with this gift is 2016.024.

Collection processed by

Laura Newsome

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2023-08-20 17:07:11 -0400.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: English

Processing Information

Books and print material that comprised part of the 2016 accretions were arranged into Series VI.

In February 2019, boxes 448 and 449 were prepared for offsite storage.


Fales Library and Special Collections
Fales Library and Special Collections
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012