Barbara Goldsmith (1931-2016) was an American author, journalist, and philanthropist known for her non-fiction and New York City-based cultural commentary. The Barbara Goldsmith papers date from approximately 1900 to 2016 and document Goldsmith's professional and personal life through drafts; typescripts; research files; notes; photographs; correspondence; diaries; and scrapbooks.
Biographical/historical: Barbara Goldsmith was an author, journalist, and philanthropist who lived and worked in New York City and East Hampton, New York. Goldsmith was born Barbara Joan Lubin to self-made business executive Joseph Lubin and Evelyn (Cronson) Lubin, a former art teacher, in New York City on May 18, 1931. She was raised in New Rochelle, New York, where she attended public schools, graduating from New Rochelle High School. In 1953, she graduated from Wellesley College with a bachelor's degree in English and Art History.
In 1954, she began working for Women's Home Companion magazine, where she interviewed celebrities such as Clark Gable and John Huston. By the early 1960s, Goldsmith was a columnist for Town & Country magazine, writing about art and culture and profiling famous artists, architects, actors, and filmmakers. In 1968, she helped found New York magazine and in the early 1970s she was a senior editor at Harper's Bazaar.
Goldsmith's research on artists, art collectors, and museums that Goldsmith wrote for New York, Harper's, and other magazines inspired her first book, The Straw Man, a novel based on the New York art world published in 1975. Goldsmith's books and her journalistic writing overlapped frequently thereafter. Between 1980 and 2005, she wrote Little Gloria…Happy at Last (an account of the 1934 custody battle over child heiress Gloria Vanderbilt between her mother, Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt and her aunt, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney), Johnson v. Johnson (about the legal dispute between the heirs to the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune), Other Powers (a book about the life of nineteenth century American suffragist, feminist, free-love advocate, journalist, presidential candidate, and spiritualist Victoria Woodhull), and Obsessive Genius (a biography of the Nobel Prize-winning French scientist, Marie Curie). These books provided cultural and social commentary in a narrative non-fiction format. A meticulous researcher, Goldsmith infused her books and articles with historical perspective. Exceptional women, wealth, fame, and the supernatural were her favored subjects.
An active philanthropist, Goldsmith donated to many charities and cultural institutions. Later in her career, she became an advocate for paper preservation and the use of acid-free paper in publishing. She funded preservation laboratories at New York Public Library and New York University Libraries. She served on numerous boards of trustees, including that of the New York Public Library. Through her work as a trustee of PEN (Poets, Essayists, and Novelists) International, Goldsmith advocated for human rights and freedom of expression around the world.
Goldsmith was married to C. Gerald Goldsmith, an investment banker with whom she had three children, from 1954 to 1969, and to Frank Perry, a film director, from 1977 to 1992. Barbara Goldsmith died on June 26, 2016 in New York City.
Content: The Barbara Goldsmith papers consist of the personal and professional files of American author, journalist, and philanthropist Barbara Goldsmith (1931-2016). The bulk of this collection documents Goldsmith's career as a journalist and author. In addition to the files on her writings, the collection covers Goldsmith's private life, family, education, friends, marriages, travels, and non-writing professional activities, including philanthropy, preservation advocacy, and her work with the President's Commission on the Celebration of Women in American History during the Clinton administration. File types include certificates of awards and honors; short biographies and interviews; business files; personal correspondence; diaries and date books; photographs; and personal papers.
The 31 scrapbooks provide a self-contained biography of Goldsmith's personal life, writing career, philanthropy, professional activities, and achievements. From her Sweet 16 party to the year she died, she recorded every event and milestone that she considered most important in her scrapbooks. They contain substantial and significant correspondence and photographs, as well as invitations, articles, clippings, reviews, cover art, book jackets, certificates, and other documents.
Goldsmith's correspondence documents her personal and professional life through letters, postcards, and cards she exchanged with friends, colleagues, and family members from the 1940s to the 2010s, though there is very little correspondence from the 1960s. Goldsmith's most frequent correspondents are her husbands, Gerald Goldsmith and Frank Perry; her mother, Evelyn Cronson Lubin; and her children, Alice, Andrew, and John Goldsmith. Goldsmith's courtship with her first husband, Gerald Goldsmith; her relationship with her second husband, Frank Perry; and its demise are the most extensively covered subjects in her letters. Other correspondents include prominent individuals such as Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Jacques D'Amboise, Max Frankel, William T. Golden, Danny Kaye, Bernard Lewis, Joel Rosenthal, Liz Smith, and Kurt Vonnegut.
Writings include Goldsmith's articles and speeches, as well as files on her five books and other writing projects. Articles, arranged chronologically, cover Barbara Goldsmith's journalistic work dating from 1954 to 1999 and include published articles, research material, notes, drafts, and a few photographs. Topics include local community news; book reviews; travel; and culture. Magazines in which Goldsmith's articles appeared include: New York, Town & Country, Vanity Fair, Parents, Architectural Digest, Harper's Bazaar, Parade, and The New Yorker. There are also copies of many of her published articles in the scrapbooks.
Files on Goldsmith's five published books make up the largest component of this collection. These books are: The Straw Man (1975), Little Gloria…Happy at Last (1980), Johnson v. Johnson (1987), Other Powers: the Age of Suffrage, Spiritualism, and the Scandalous Victoria Woodhull (1998), and Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie (2005). Goldsmith's files on her books consist of research files, manuscripts, and post-publication materials. Goldsmith did extensive research for all five books, even The Straw Man, her only work of fiction, which she researched the New York art world. Research files include copies and transcripts of original documents, notes, photographs, articles, and timelines. Manuscripts include early draft excerpts inter-filed with notes, later drafts submitted to friends and publishers with annotations, and final galleys. Post-publication files include articles, reviews, flyers, interviews, blurbs, and other publicity materials; as well as book jackets, cover art mock-ups, book tour information, and publisher correspondence.