Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Charles Henri Ford
Date (inclusive): 1906-1989
Date (bulk): 1939-1989
Collection number: 900194
ca. 40 linear ft.
(79 boxes, 6 flat file folders )
Getty Research Institute
Special Collections and Visual Resources
1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90049-1688
Abstract: American poet, playwright, painter, and
publisher. The Charles Henri Ford archive contains correspondence,
manuscripts, ephemera, art works, and newspaper clippings relating to himself,
his companion, Pavel Tchelitchew, and a large circle of friends, artists, and
Language: Collection material
is in English
Open for use by qualified researchers.
Charles Henri Ford papers, 1906-1989, bulk 1939-1989, Research
Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 900194
Acquired in 1990.
Processed by Alan Tomlinson.
Charles Henri Ford, the American poet, playwright, publisher and
painter, was born Feb. 10, 1910, in Hazelhurst, Mississippi and died in 2002.
Ford's early and avid interest in poetry prompted him to publish a magazine
while he was still a young man in Mississippi.
Blues: A Magazine of new rhythms
attracted submissions from well-known writers such as Gertrude Stein and
William Carlos Williams, as well as from new voices, James Farrell, Erskine
Caldwell and Paul Bowles. Through the magazine Ford struck up a literary
conversation with Parker Tyler, whose descriptions of bohemian life in New
York's Greenwich Village drew Ford to New York. Ford turned their
correspondence into the collaborative novel,
Young and evil (Obelisk Press, 1933),
described by Michael Duncan as “a fragmented record of cruising, drag balls and
brittle repartee.” (
Art Forum, p.25) It was when
Young and evil was published that Ford
re-stated his birthdate as 1913 to become (in his words) “younger and more
evil.” (Information from MaryLynn Broe, Grinnell College in a scholar note
dated 27 March 1998 in Getty Research Library files.) Michael Duncan lists
Ford's birthdate as 1908 in his essay on Ford in
Art Forum, 41, no.5, Jan. 2003, p.
In 1933 Ford traveled to Europe for the first time to meet artists
and writers. In Paris he met the Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew. Pavel,
apparently dazzled by Ford, moved with Ford to New York City and thus began
the stormy 26-year relationship that continued until Tchelitchew's death in
Ford is probably best remembered for editing the influential
View (1940-1947). Parker Tyler became
the associate editor and they published the avant-garde, of which they were now
Ford lived for extended periods in Nepal and Crete, keeping a home
base in the Dakota in New York City. Besides his publishing projects, Ford
wrote poetry and plays, produced photographs, collages, and an experiental film.
Shortly before he died he exhibited his art works at the Scene Gallery in New
In 1927 Ford wrote in his diary, “In two years I will be famous. In
two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will
be famous. In two years I will be famous. In two years I will be famous. This
is my oath.” His papers document his intent, and his circle of intimates and
acquaintances, the little known and the famous.
Scope and Content of Collection
Papers contain correspondence (1920-1989), Ford's journals
(1938-1986), literary drafts, papers relating to the publication of
Blues 10 (1929-1930), works of art by
Ford and others (1934-1988), clippings and announcements (1940-1989), and
The correspondence details the business and personal activities of
Ford and his circle of friends. Correspondents include Angel Borrero, Paul
Bowles, Ronnie Burk, Ira Cohen, Nancy Cunard, Leonor Fini, Kimon Friar, Peter
Kostakis, Ted Joans, Gerard Malanga, Lynne Tillman, and Parker Tyler. Letters
from his sister Ruth Ford provide a detailed picture of her social life in New
York. Also included are pieces of mail art from Ronnie Burk, John Chick, Buster
Cleveland, Ira Cohen, Jerry Dreva, Paul Grillo, Ted Joans, Ray Johnson, and
Valery Oisteanu. Diverse works of art by Ford and others also are part of the
Ford's journals served as diaries and include drafts of his literary
works: poems and haiku appear in fragments throughout the journals. Also
included are his agendas and datebooks, and Pavel Tchelitchew's datebooks from
Drafts of Fords novels, plays, and poetry exists in various stages of
revision. Manuscripts by others were sent to Ford, perhaps for publication in
View. Several folders relate to the
Blues 10, the tenth issue of his
literary magazine, 1929-1930.
Several folders, intended for Ford's scrapbook, contain ephemera that
document his publications, gallery openings, poetry readings, dinners, teas and
other social events that he attended or that where given in his honor.
Newspaper clippings, many sent to him by his sister Ruth Ford, document social
activities, theater, exhibitions, opera, dance, literature, and gay rights.
Announcements and invitations provide a picture of the artistic events that
were an important part of Ford's life: exhibitions, readings, auctions,
announcements for publications, theatrical events.
The collection also includes miscellaneous papers, such as receipts
(royalty reports, gallery receipts, invoices) and some personal documents. Five
boxes hold publications and unprocessed materials.
Arranged in 11 series:
Series I. Correspondence, 1906-1989
Series II. Notebooks and datebooks, 1938-1986
Series III. Ford's manuscripts, 1933-1986
Series IV. Works by others, ca. 1980s
Series V. Blues 10, 1978-1989
Series VI. Works of art, 1934-1988, undated
Series VII. Personal and business documents, 1936-1986
Series VIII. Dossier scrapbook, undated
Series IX. Newspaper clippings, 1952-1989
Series X. Program announcements, 1940-1989, undated
Series XI. Receipts, ca. 1920-1989
Subjects - Names
Subjects - Topics
Genres and Forms of Material