Scope and Content
Arrangement of the Collection
Title: Wallace Stevens Oral History Collection,
Date (inclusive): 1975-1985, (bulk 1976-1978)
Brazeau, Peter A.
Extent: 605 pieces, consisting of 137 tapes, 105 transcriptions, and 363 pieces of correspondence
The Huntington Library
San Marino, California 91108
Tapes and transcriptions acquired from J. R. Harrison (executor of Peter Brazeau's estate) in June, 1989. Correspondence acquired
from Harrison in July, 1990.
Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information
please go to following
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission
from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical
property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances,
the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate
curator for further information.
[Identification of item], Wallace Stevens Oral History Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Scope and Content
The oral history tapes and transcriptions, together with the correspondence, that make up this collection were created by
Peter A. Brazeau during the course of his research for his oral history biography of Wallace Stevens:
Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered (New York: Random House, 1983). Brazeau, a member of the English Department faculty of St. Joseph College, wrote to and interviewed
dozens of Stevens' relatives, friends, neighbors, employees, business colleagues, and literary associates and acquaintances
in order to elicit their recollections about the poet.
While Brazeau mined the material fairly thoroughly, the mass of information was too great for it all to be used in the book,
and there yet remains a good deal of unused data. Therefore, this collection is an excellent research tool for Stevens scholarship.
Researchers are advised to use Brazeau's
Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered as a reference source for the collection, to identify the people whose interviews and correspondence are contained in the
There are three formats of material:
Tapes. Duplicate cassette tapes have been made from the master tapes (which are in both cassette and reel-to-reel formats). A fairly
substantial number of the master tapes are of markedly inferior sound quality, and, while the copies are no worse in quality,
it has not been possible to improve or enhance the quality of the copies. The most frequent problem is either very low volume
or loud background noise, or a combination of the two.
Researchers are cautioned that there is almost certainly some duplication in the tapes for some individuals. This is often due to Brazeau's inconsistent practice of making a second master of a given interview (in either the same or
a different format), whose contents may or may not exactly match those of the first master. In almost every instance, the
task of exhaustively comparing the contents of two masters proved too unwieldy and time-consuming and had to be abandoned;
all that could be done was to copy each master tape unless duplicate masters could be readily identified. Moreover, Brazeau
would group interviews on tapes in the most economical manner possible, and these would not be grouped similarly for duplicate
master tapes, e.g., groups of interviews on a reel-to-reel tape would not then be retained as a group on Brazeau's own second
(cassette) master but would be dispersed to several cassette tapes. This made the identification of duplicate interviews especially
difficult. A third difficulty was Brazeau's frequent habit of beginning an interview too early on the tape (with far too little
leader tape) or with the volume initially too low, so that his verbal identification of the interviewee and date of the interview
are unintelligible. In short, the tapes were made, not by a professional oral historian, but by a Stevens scholar who used
the craft as a means to pursue his own research, so the quality of recordings is highly uneven.
Transcriptions. The transcriptions have been xeroxed, and the xeroxes will be used for research purposes. Both the originals and the xeroxes
are difficult to read, for Brazeau wrote the transcriptions by hand, often in pencil. Moreover,
his transcriptions are not complete but are selective; he omitted segments that were not of interest for his own research.
Correspondence. The correspondence consists of originals, most in good condition.
Arrangement of the Collection
Boxes 1-4: Cassette tapes (copies).
Boxes 5-8: Transcriptions (copies).
Boxes 9-15: Correspondence.
Boxes 16-19: Transcriptions (masters -- not to be circulated).
Boxes 20-26: Cassette and reel-to-reel tapes (masters -- not to be circulated).
The following pages of this report consists of a complete list of the people represented in the collection. Each individual's
name is followed by columns in which appear call number(s) for his/her tape(s), transcription(s), and correspondence. For
each individual listed, there will be one or more items in any one or two formats, or in all three. A blank in any of the
columns means that there is nothing in the designated format for that individual. The specific items desired can be called
out using the call numbers provided, each beginning with the prefix "HM". In no instance will the master tapes or the originals
of the transcriptions be provided for research.