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Sidney Offit papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0395
The papers of Sidney Offit relate his career as writer, teacher, and active participant in the literary and civic life of New York City. The collection spans the years 1928-1997 and includes photographs and mementos from his early life in Baltimore, MD to the reviews and accolades for his published volume, Memoir of the Bookie's Son. Series 1: Writings forms the largest part of the collection, and it is in this series where examples of Offit's manuscript writings and published pieces are filed. The drafts, revisions, corrections, and notes from Memoir of the Bookie's Son illustrate the author's process of writing from inception to publication. Of interest also are examples of Offit's short stories published in popular magazines of past years such at Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (1953) and Famous Western (1956). A selection of Baseball Magazine (1940-1964) for which Offit served on the editorial staff is also included. Series 2: Course Materials describes Offit's teaching career at New York University and the New School for Social Research. Contracts, notes, evaluations, courses, and schedules are part of the series. In the first part of Series 3: Correspondence are letters from friends, fellow authors, and former students. There is also a selection of letters school children who responded to Offit's books for young readers. Most of the letters are filed in multi-year segments, and a few are filed by correspondent's name. Many letters are from former students and are filled with appreciation to Offit for his advice and recommendations. Photocopying of letters and the use of quotations from the letters are not permitted. The second part of the series includes items removed from books in the personal library of Sidney Offit. Many of the books were gifts from fellow authors and were personally inscribed to Offit. Also in the books were related clippings, reviews, or invitations kept by Offit. The items are filed by author's name in this series. Autographs of authors have been photocopied. The books from Offit's personal library have been added to Rare Books. Series 3, 4, and 5 are open for research, but photocopying of materials from these series is not allowed. Researchers may not quote from the papers in Series 3, 4, and 5 until 5 years after the author's death. Papers related to The Authors League Fund in Box 15 are restricted until 2024. The restrictions do not apply to Series 6: George Polk Awards. Series 4: PEN (American Center), Series 5: Authors Guild, and Series 6: George Polk Awards provide further description of Offit's connection to the literary milieu in New York City. In Series 4, 5, and 6, are agendas, minutes, correspondence, programs, and descriptions of events from the famed writers' groups and from Offit's service as curator of the prestigious journalism award. The items are filed chronologically and are further described in the Series Description. Series 7: Television Commentary includes several video tapes (1979- 1982) of televised debates featuring Martin Abend on the right and Sidney on the left discussing the social, political, and economic issues of the period. The debates sparked lively responses from the viewing audience as demonstrated by a selection of letters also filed in Series 7. In Series 8: Personal are family correspondence along with scrapbooks, invitations, programs, photographs, and items related to Offit's community work in his New York City neighborhood. In the Personal series are also scrapbooks that include clippings, reviews, photographs, appreciations all related to Offit's published works. The last series in the collection is Series 9: Student Drafts. In the series are manuscripts by many of Offit's students who solicited his opinion of their work. Other drafts in the series are from professional writer friends who also asked for editorial comment. Sidney Offit's gift to the University included a collection of Century Association Yearbooks (1972- 1995) representing his membership in the Century Club, New York City. The yearbooks have been cataloged and added to Rare Books, Special Collections. Items removed from the volumes including notes, reviews, invitations, etc. are included with Correspondence, Series 3, Box 10.

Dates

  • 1932-1997

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Access to the Author's League Fund applications restricted until 5 years after DONOR's death.

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information.

Use Restrictions

Series 3, 4, and 5 are open for research, but photocopying of materials from these series is not allowed. Researchers may not quote from the papers in Series 3, 4, and 5 until 5 years after the author's death. Papers related to The Authors League Fund in Box 15 are restricted until five years after the donor's death. The restrictions do not apply to Series 6: George Polk Awards.

Researchers may not quote from the minutes or correspondence in Series 3 (personal correspondence), Series 4 (P.E.N. America Center), and Series 5 (Author's Guild) until 5 years after DONOR's death.

Restrictions on photocopying and quotations apply to Series 3, Series 4, and Series 5.

Researchers may not publish more than a paragraph excerpted from personal correspondence or journals until 5 years after the DONOR's death.

Extent

68.46 Cubic Feet (45 record center cartons, 18 letter size document boxes, 1 letter half-size document box, 2 legal half-size document boxes, 1 flat box (20.5 x 14.5 x 1.5 inches), 4 flat boxes (15.5 x 12 x 3 inches), 1 flat box (15.5 x 10.5 x 3 inches), 1 flat box (21 x 17 x 1.5 inches), 2 oversize boxes (19 x 13 x 6 inches), 1 custom box (16.5 x 8.5 x 10.5 inches))

Biographical Note

Sidney Offit was born in Baltimore, MD October 13, 1928, the son of Buckley (1896-1992) and Lillian (Cohen) Offit. Sidney Offit is a successful author and teacher, former television commentator, curator of the George Polk Journalism awards, and an active member of writers' groups in New York City.

Sidney Offit graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 1950. At Hopkins, he was editor of the News-Letter, a member of the debating club, and secretary of the Tudor and Stuart Club. Offit's early years in Baltimore and undergraduate years at Hopkins sometimes served as background in his novels for young readers. In The Adventures of Homer Fink (1966), one of Offit's most successful books for young readers, the adventurer is the son of a Johns Hopkins classics professor.

Soon after graduation Offit moved to New York City. He began his literary career in the publishing business as an editorial assistant for Mercury Publications (1952-1953) and McFadden Publishers (1953- 1954). Offit contributed to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Mercury Mysteries. Offit, writer and sports fan, was named contributing editor to Baseball Magazine (1955-1958). He edited The Best of Baseball (1956), an anthology of writings from the magazine, which has the distinction of being included in the library of baseball's Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. During the 1960s and 1970s, Offit wrote several well-received novels for younger readers including Soupbone (1963), Topsy Turvy (1965) , Only a Girl Like You (1972), and What Kind of Guy Do You Think I Am? ( 1977). During this period he was also a columnist for the New York Observer.

Sidney Offit has been a member of the faculty of New York University since 1964 and was named adjunct professor of creative writing in 1977. Since 1965 he has been a lecturer in creative writing at the New School for Social Research. He was an editor of Intellectual Digest (1970-1974) and book editor for Politics Today (1978-1980). In 1977, Offit was named curator for the George Polk Awards for Journalism. He has been a member of and has served on the executive boards of the Authors Guild, Authors League, and the American Center of PEN (Poets, Playwright, Essayists, Editors, Novelists). He was an international delegate for PEN 1971, 1972, and 1974. He is a member of the Century Association and the Coffee House in New York City.

Successful as both author and teacher, Offit entered the medium of television in 1975. He was paired with Dr. Martin Abend, professor of political geography at Jersey City State College and a staunch political conservative. The ideologically opposed pair engaged in a series of televised debates on social, political, and economic issues. The debates were televised on Channel 5 NYC for ten years and were brought back briefly in 1992 on Channel 11 NYC.

Along with the many literary and teaching obligations, Offit has participated well in the civic life of his New York City neighborhood. He has served on a District School Board and was president of the 19th Precinct Community Council. For his achievements as teacher, communicator, and citizen, Offit has received commendations from the N.Y. State Legislature (1983), the N.Y.C. Council (1983), and a particular award from the Police Athletic League (1991) for his service to children.

Sidney Offit's most recent work, Memoir of the Bookie's Son, published by St. Martin's Press (1995) was described by the publisher as "defining a complex father-son relationship with extraordinary sensitivity and warmth." The book was very well-received by critics, friends, and other authors, many of whom expressed their appreciation in personal letters to the author.

Sidney Offit successfully manages a literary life, a teacher's life, a family and civic life, and he has attained the respect of colleagues, friends, students, and his many readers. Offit has been married since 1953 to Avodah (Avi) Komito Offit, a writer and psychiatrist, who practices in New York City. Dr. Avodah Offit is the author of Night Thoughts (1981) and Virtual Love (1994) . The Offits are the parents of two sons, Michael and Kenneth.

Arrangement

The collection has been artificially arranged into 9 series - Series 1: Writings; Series 2: Course Material; Series 3: Correspondence: Series 4: PEN; Series 5: Authors Guild: Series 6: George Polk Award; Series 7: Television Commentary; Series 8: Personal; and Series 9: Student Drafts.

Custodial History

The books from Offit's personal library have been added to Rare Books.

Sidney Offit's gift to the University included a collection of Century Association Yearbooks (1972- 1995) representing his membership in the Century Club, New York City. The yearbooks have been cataloged and added to Rare Books, Special Collections.

Provenance

The papers were a gift to the University from Sidney Offit, February 1998.

Related Materials

The manuscripts and letters related to Sidney Offit's books for young readers are part of the Archives of the Children's Literature Research Collection, University of Minnesota.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Joan Grattan on November 20, 2013.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA