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Smith/Linebarger Archives

Alan C. Elms

There are two major archives of the papers of Paul M. A. Linebarger (aka Cordwainer Smith). The bulk of his fiction manuscripts, including his science fiction, is held by the Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. The bulk of his papers dealing with China, psychological warfare, and other topics connected with his academic and military careers can be found in the Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California. A few items are in other archives: e.g., the edited manuscript of his short story, "Alpha Ralpha Boulevard," is in the editorial archives of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York. Syracuse University also holds some of his manuscripts of stories that were published in Galaxy Science Fiction.

The University of Kansas archives do include some items dealing with Linebarger's academic and Army Intelligence activities, while the Hoover Institution collection includes some manuscripts relevant to Linebarger's literary career (including partial drafts of his novel Norstrilia). When his widow Genevieve Linebarger died, large amounts of material from the estate had to be dealt with in a brief time frame, and the sorting of material into different piles was not totally accurate. At the same time, some sensitive material was apparently shipped to a military archive, though I have not been able to find it. (I would appreciate being informed if anyone else locates it.) Some material was probably thrown out as trash; among other things, the files of Linebarger's correspondence appear to be rather incomplete. There are few early drafts of the Cordwainer Smith stories in any archive, but that may just have been the way he worked on the fiction: carefully developing it in his imagination without notes, then dictating or writing it down in one or two passes. I've been told by people who observed his production of nonfiction books, or who took courses from him, that that's how he worked in those situations: producing long swatches of elegant prose from memory, without notes or drafts.

Most of the books in Linebarger's large personal library (including an extensive collection of science fiction) were sold in large lots at the estate sale after Genevieve L.'s death. The book dealers who bought them have long since sold them off individually, but one or another book often pops up for sale on the Net, usually at premium prices if they contain a signature, bookplate, sticker, or rubber stamp indicating that they were from his library. Copies of his manuscripts outside the Kansas and Hoover Archives are rare. Occasionally booksellers list books or manuscripts written by his father (Paul Myron Wentworth Linebarger, who also published under the names "Paul Linebarger" and "Paul Myron") as being by Paul Linebarger the son; these materials may be of associational interest to collectors, but should not command similarly high prices. Most of Paul M. W. Linebarger's papers are in the Hoover Institution Archives.

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