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Ira Silverberg Papers

Call Number



1980-2015, inclusive


Silverberg, Ira


70.8 Linear Feet
in 53 record cartons, 29 manuscript boxes, 3 flat boxes, 41 boxes, and 16 flat file folders

Language of Materials

Materials are in English.


Ira Silverberg has been an influential literary agent and editor in New York City for almost two decades. His papers contain the correspondence and manuscripts of many of the city's young talents. Additionally, his papers offer a unique insight into the world of New York City publishing. Of special interest in the Silverberg papers is the extensive amount of material relating to authors Kathy Acker, William S. Burroughs and Dennis Cooper.

Biographical Note

Ira Silverberg has been influential in the Downtown scene in his capacity as both literary agent and editor. Silverberg has been a literary agent at Donadio & Ashworth, Editor-in-Chief at Grove/Atlantic Press, and editorial and publishing director at Serpent's Tail's U.S. projects, High Risk Books and Midnight Classics. He also developed the marketing and public relations firm, Ira Silverberg Communications, which as attracted such prestigious clients as: The Academy of American Poets, William S. Burroughs, Dennis Cooper, City Lights Publications, Re/Search Publications, and the estate of David Wojnarowicz.

Silverberg began his career in publishing in 1984 as an Editorial and Publicity Assistant at The Overlook Press. In 1985, he was named Publicity Director of Grove Press. He left Grove in 1990 to begin work for Serpent's Tail. He returned to Grove/Atlantic in 1997 before moving on to Donadio & Ashworth.

While working for Serpent's Tail, Silverberg co-edited two anthologies, High Risk (Dutton/Plume U.S.; Serpent's Tail U.K.) and High Risk 2 (Plume U.S.; Serpent's Tail U. K.), that proved influential in defining the Downtown aesthetic. Many of the then-unknown authors included went on to have successful and prolific careers.

In addition to his publishing and editorial duties Silverberg has become affiliated with many cultural institutions in New York City. He serves on the Board of Directors of BOMB magazine and the Member's Council of PEN American Center. He has also acted as judge for the Gregory Kolovakos Award for AIDS writing; he has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts Literature Program and the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund; and he has acted as editorial advisor to the Portable Lower East Side. He has also served as a member of the visiting faculty at The New School for Social Research.


Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject/author heading, and then chronologically.

The Ira Silverberg Papers are organized by subject into eleven series.

Missing Title

  1. Group 1, Series I: Correspondence
  2. Group 1, Series II: Manuscripts
  3. Group 1, Series III: Affiliations
  4. Group 1, Series IV: Business/Administrative Files
  5. Group 1, Series V: Personal Files
  6. Group 1, Series VI: Computer Files
  7. Group 1, Series VII: Other Media
  8. Group 1, Series VIII: Books/Periodicals
  9. Group 1, Series IX: Burroughs
  10. Group 1, Series X: Ephemera
  11. Group 1, Series XI: J.T. Leroy
  12. Group 2, Series I: Correspondence
  13. Group 2, Series II: Manuscripts
  14. Group 2, Series IV: Business/Administrative Files
  15. Group 2, Series VIII: Books/Periodicals
  16. Group 2, Series IX: Burroughs
  17. Group 3, Series I: Correspondence
  18. Group 3, Series II: Manuscripts
  19. Group 3, Series III: Affiliations
  20. Group 3, Series IV: Business/Administration Files
  21. Group 3, Series V: Personal Files
  22. Group 3, Series VI: Computer Files
  23. Group 3, Series VII: Other Media
  24. Group 3, Series VIII: Books/Periodicals
  25. Group 3, Series IX: Burroughs
  26. Group 3, Series X: Ephemera
  27. Oversize I
  28. 2016 Accretion
  29. Oversize II

Scope and Content

The Ira Silverberg papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, subject files, business/administrative files, personal files, cassette tapes, videos, books, periodicals, posters, and three-dimensional objects. The following is a brief series description that provides a general guide to the contents of each series.

Series I: Correspondence - Includes correspondence to and from Ira Silverberg, with correspondents such as Kathy Acker, Lawrence Chua, Dennis Cooper, Tim Dlugos, Gary Indiana, James Purdy, Jon Savage, Art Spiegelman, Lynne Tillman, John Waters, and David Wojnarowicz, as well as correspondence regarding certain writers, namely Kathy Acker and Jacqueline Susann. This series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

Series II: Manuscripts - Includes manuscripts received by Ira Silverberg, such as those by Dennis Cooper, Lawrence Chua, Karen Finley, Allen Ginsberg, Lynne Tillman, David Trinidad, John Waters, and David Wojnarowicz. This series is arranged alphabetically by author.

Series III: Affiliations - Includes correspondence and related materials involving Ira Silverberg's affiliations, such as with the Academy of American Poets, CLMP, the New School, and PEN. This series is arranged alphabetically by institution.

Series IV: Business/Administration Files - Includes files relating to Ira Silverberg's various positions as editor and literary agent, such as activity reports, contracts, general business correspondence, events, insurance, tax files, mailing lists, and notebooks. This series also includes correspondence and related files regarding Silverberg's business associates and contacts, such as Donadio & Ashworth, Grove/Atlantic, Peake Associates, Re/Search Publishing, and Serpent's Tail/High Risk. The files in this series are arranged alphabetically by subject.

Subseries A: General Business/Administration FilesSubseries B: Client Projects - Includes files related to projects by Silverberg's clients, especially projects by Kathey Acker, Dennis Cooper, Richard Grossman and Gary Indiana. Files are arranged by client name when known, or by original folder title when client is unspecificed.Subseries C: Financial Files - The majority of this subseries consists of receipts, bills, and other financial documentation. Arranged aplphabetically by original folder title, and then chronologically.Subseries D: Tear Sheets, Reviews and Clippings - Various press clippings relating to Silverberg's projects and clients. Arranged alphabetically by client name or subject when known, or chronologically as general "tear sheets" files.

Series V: Personal Files - Includes articles by and about Ira Silverberg, Silverberg bios, Personal correspondence, personal finances, and photographs. The 2005 accretion includes a large number of photographs and negatives. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series VI: Computer Files - Includes information downloaded from Silverberg's hard drive and computer disks, as well as the actual disks themselves. Files include, Kathy Acker, client lists, bios, William S. Burroughs, and email correspondence. This series is arranged alphabetically by the file names given by Silverberg. The actual disks are listed at the end.

Series VII: Other Media - Includes cassette tapes, compact disks, DVDs, and movie film arranged alphabetically by title.

Series VIII: Books/Periodicals - Includes books and periodicals collected by Silverberg and arranged alphabetically by title. Books and periodicals not found in the New York University catalog (Bobcat) were catalogued and are now shelved in the Downtown Collection in the Fales Library and Special Collections.

Series IX: Burroughs - Includes materials relating to William S. Burroughs, such as a variety of Burroughs's projects, Burroughs-related manuscripts, correspondence between Burroughs, James Grauerholz, and Ira Silverberg, Burroughs-related events, and Burroughs photographs. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject, based on original file titles.

Series X: Ephemera - Includes one box containing Jacqueline Susann publicity from Grove/Atlantic, and one box of three-dimensional objects.

Series XI: J.T. LeRoy - The majority is clippings and correspondence. The clippings are largely reviews of LeRoy's books, or articles about the LeRoy "hoax." The correspondence consists of email printouts, faxes, and letters, mostly about LeRoy, although some of the correspondence is from "J.T. LeRoy" to Silverberg. Folders are arranged alphabetically by title, and materials within are arranged chronologically.

Map Case 1: Oversize - Currently unprocessed. Includes movie posters and original artwork.

Access Restrictions

Materials are open to researchers. Please contact the Fales Library and Special Collections,, 212-998-2596.

Use Restrictions

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); The Ira Silverberg Papers; MSS 110; 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 Ira Silverberg Papers were donated to the Fales Library by Ira Silverberg 2001, with additional donations in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2016. The accession numbers associated with this collection are 2001.110, 2003.110, 2005.110, 2007.110, 2008.110, 2009.110, 2010.110, and 2016.006.

Audiovisual Access Policies and Procedures

Access to some audiovisual materials in this collection is available through digitized access copies. Researchers may view an item's original container, but the media themselves are not available for playback because of preservation concerns. Materials that have already been digitized are noted in the collection's finding aid and can be requested in our reading room. To request an access copy, or if you are unsure if an item has been digitized, please contact with the collection name, collection number, and a description of the item(s) requested. A staff member will respond to you with further information.

Related Material at the Fales Library and Special Collections

Dennis Cooper Papers (MSS.085)

Tim Dlugos Papers (MSS.087)

Serpents Tail/High Risk Archive (MSS.086)

David Wojnarowicz Papers (MSS.092)

Collection processed by

Matt Moore, Will Culinan and Lisa Darms.

About this Guide

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2024-02-06 14:12:01 -0500.
Using Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language: Description is in English.

Processing Information

The original processing plan of this collection is unknown. The 2016 accretion was placed in acid free boxes and original order was maintained in the state in which it was received. This accretion was intellectually added to a separate series at the end.

In August 2017, one item was prepared to be moved to offsite art storage in September 2017.

In February 2019, boxes of unprocessed material were prepared to be moved to offsite storage in March 2019.

Revisions to this Guide

May 2017: Oversize series updated by ACM staff to reflect accurate box numbers.
August 2017: Updated by Megan O'Shea to prepare artwork being sent to offsite art storage in September 2017
March 2019: Updated by Jennifer E. Neal to incorporate artwork being sent to offsite art storage in April 2019
January 2023: Updated by Rachel Mahre to state that some audiovisual materials are digitized and accessible to patrons


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