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Charles Henri Ford papers, 1906-1989, bulk 1939-1989
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biographical/Historical Note
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Charles Henri Ford papers
    Date (inclusive): 1906-1989 (bulk 1939-1989)
    Number: 900194
    Creator/Collector: Ford, Charles Henri
    Physical Description: 40.0 linear feet (79 boxes, 6 flat file folders )
    The Getty Research Institute
    Special Collections
    1200 Getty Center Drive, Suite 1100
    Los Angeles, California, 90049-1688
    (310) 440-7390
    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 literary figures.
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    Language: Collection material is in English

    Biographical/Historical Note

    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. 25.
    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 1957.
    Ford is probably best remembered for editing the influential avant-garde magazine View (1940-1947). Parker Tyler became the associate editor and they published the avant-garde, of which they were now a part.
    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 York City.
    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.

    Administrative Information


    Open for use by qualified researchers.

    Publication Rights

    Preferred Citation

    Charles Henri Ford papers, 1906-1989, bulk 1939-1989, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute, Accession no. 900194

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired in 1990.

    Processing History

    Processed by Alan Tomlinson.

    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 personal documents.
    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 papers.
    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 1938-1948.
    Drafts of Fords novels, plays, and poetry exists in various stages of revision. Manuscripts by others were sent to Ford, perhaps for publication in Blues or View. Several folders relate to the publication of 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.

    Arrangement note

    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

    Indexing Terms

    Subjects - Names

    Ford, Charles Henri
    Ford, Ruth, 1915-
    Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957

    Subjects - Topics

    Art, Modern--20th century
    Gay liberation movement
    Literature, Modern--20th century
    Poetry, Modern--20th century
    Theater--United States

    Subjects - Titles

    Blues View

    Genres and Forms of Material

    Announcements--20th century
    Clippings--20th century
    Diaries--20th century
    Ephemera--20th century
    Mail art
    Receipts--20th century


    Borrero, Angel
    Bowles, Paul, 1910-1999
    Burk, Ronnie
    Chick, John
    Cleveland, Buster
    Cohen, Ira
    Cunard, Nancy, 1896-1965
    Dreva, Jerry
    Fini, Leonor, 1908-1996
    Ford, Charles Henri
    Ford, Ruth, 1915-
    Friar, Kimon
    Grillo, Paul, 1943-
    Joans, Ted
    Johnson, Ray, 1927-1995
    Kostakis, Peter
    Malanga, Gerard
    Oisteanu, Valery
    Tchelitchew, Pavel, 1898-1957
    Tillman, Lynne
    Tyler, Parker