PCL MS 216 Popular Press Collection
|PCL MS 216 Popular Press Collection
The Bowling Green State University Popular Press was begun by Ray and Pat Browne in 1967 as a means to publish the Journal of Popular Culture. By 1969 the press began to publish books. It was the official mouth-piece of what was then a fledgling movement to promote the academic study of every day life and became one of the foremost university presses to focus the majority of its publishing on topics relevant to this study of popular culture. The Popular Press was sold to the University of Wisconsin in 2002.
The Popular Press files focus predominantly on the publication of book titles rather than the many journals it also published. The twenty-six cubic feet of files dating from approximately 1969 to 2002 (some general information is included through 2007) are divided into author files, inactive author files, unpublished manuscript files and office files. The most complete of these series being the author files which detail specific publication projects and shed light on the kinds of works published by the press and its interactions with scholars in the field.
The collection was donated to the Browne Popular Culture Library in 2007 with the assistance of the Executive Vice-President’s office at BGSU. No restrictions have been placed on the use of the collection for scholarly purposes. The finding aid was completed by Eric Honneffer in June 2009.
The Brownes came to Bowling Green State University in 1967 for Ray Browne to take a faculty position in the English Department and to accept $4,000 from then president Bill Jerome to begin the publication of the quarterly Journal of Popular Culture, a much needed publication in which to disseminate academic research within the emerging popular culture field. In addition to the Journal of Popular Culture, the newly established press would eventually publish Clues: A Journal of Detection, Popular Music and Society, Journal of Cultural Geography, and Abstracts of Popular Culture among others.
Between 1969-1970 the journal had produced sufficient funds of its own to allow the press to start publishing books. In 1969 Melville’s Israel Potter: A Pilgrimage and Progress by Arnold Rampersad was produced. It would be followed in 1970 by one of the press’s best sellers, Six Gun Mystique by John Cawelti. According to Ray Browne, the press was "a pace-setter in bringing out books in Popular Culture" by being first in publishing critical essays in women’s studies, science fiction and detective fiction specialties. Film and literary commentaries as well as university level text books and reference works devoted to the study of popular culture were an important part of their output.
Pat Browne served as business manager and director of the press. Four or five full-time employees and some student assistants comprised the staff. By 1988 the press had to its credit a list of 200 titles (over 500 by the time it was sold) and annually published about twenty books. By 1996 an estimated 400 manuscripts were submitted annually. Customarily once a manuscript was selected it was forwarded to three readers, who in turn would comment upon its publishing potential. Press runs between 500-1,000 copies per title were preferred and most printing was done by companies in Ann Arbor, Michigan or in Defiance, Ohio.
In 2002 the press was sold by BGSU to the University of Wisconsin.
|Scope and Content
Among the twenty-six cubic feet of Popular Press files, the author files are the largest and most complete series spanning the life of the press. These offer the most detailed picture of how book projects were submitted, selected, evaluated by subject specialists, edited, printed and promoted. Within the correspondence found in the various files, Pat Browne’s influential role as business manager and director emerges through her communications with scholars submitting manuscripts as well as with colleagues and staff involved in the many aspects of publishing a title.
The unpublished manuscript files are also a relevant series to the collection since they contain data regarding projects that were not selected for publication by the press. Some of the correspondence offers an explanation to authors as to why their project was not accepted for publication. Many times the replies reiterated that the press preferred to publish only specific types of scholarship within the field that would fit into textbook or reference work formats on relevant topics of interest to academic audiences. In some circumstances suggestions are offered that would assist authors in finding an appropriate publisher for their work. Unfortunately, the files only contain documentation of this nature for primarily the last few years that the press was located at BGSU.
Researchers interested in the arrangements made for the closing of the press would want to consult the correspondence and sale/transfer documents within the office files. These provide some details regarding the business and the transfer of the book inventory to the University of Wisconsin. Statistical data about titles published, royalties paid, copyright, etc. is available in the royalty tally/detail reports, inventory lists and by individual title within the author files.
Arranged alphabetically by authorFiles can include correspondence, manuscript fragments, reader’s reports, contracts, royalty information, cover designs, photos for publication, invoices for artwork on cover, invoices to print the book, book publicity and requests to reprint published text.
Inactive Author Files1970-2002Arranged alphabetically by authorCan contain correspondence, segments of book or journal article manuscripts, contracts and other contents resembling the author files but less complete. Many of the projects in these files seem not to have been carried through to publication.
Unpublished Manuscript Files1997-2000Arranged chronologically then alphabetically by authorFiles include predominantly correspondence, rejection letters from the press, manuscript fragments or story synopses, reader’s reports and the like.
1971-2007 scattered, 2009
Arranged by kind of recordThese can contain correspondence and agreement documents pertaining to the sale of the Popular Press as well as the transfer/sale of various popular culture journals. Miscellaneous manuscript submissions to the journals, author lists, book inventories, royalty tally/detail reports, book contracts, copyright certificates of registration, miscellaneous printed materials and 1 cd about the Popular Culture House are included.