Tuesday, March 12, 2024

The NYPL's archive of the legendary East Village Eye now available to the public

Images from the NYPL

The New York Public Library's extensive archive of the East Village Eye is now processed and available to researchers

In February 2023, the NYPL acquired the East Village Eye archive from founder and editor Leonard Abrams. The collection consists of documents, manuscripts, artworks, videos, ephemera, and a complete run of the original printed publication (72 issues in total), which was published from 1979 to 1987 and covered the neighborhood's arts, politics, and social currents during a transformative decade. 

The collection also documents the daily workings of a small publication – advertising, correspondence, datebooks, financial records, and more. Contributors included resident advice columnist Cookie Mueller, Richard Hell, and David Wojnarowicz, and the newspaper featured images from dozens of acclaimed photographers early in their careers.

"The Library's acquisition of the East Village Eye archive is the perfect outcome of our years-long search for the best home for these materials," Abrams said upon the purchase last year. 

"We are looking forward to seeing the creative ways that the collection will be used by scholars, students, educators, artists, activists, and anyone passionate about the history and culture of downtown New York City,"  said Julie Golia, associate director, manuscripts, archives, and rare books and Charles J. Liebman curator of manuscripts, in a statement.

Highlights of the collection include: 
  • A full print run of all 72 issues of the East Village Eye in pristine condition (no other public institution possesses a complete print run of the periodical)
  • Extensive administrative records and founding business documents for the magazine, including correspondence with staff, contributors, advertisers, and readers throughout the Eye's eight-year run
  • Abrams' handwritten pocket planners showing his relationship with artists, musicians, businesses, and writers across the neighborhood and beyond
  • Promotional materials created by the Eye, including maps and guides of the East Village and invitations and flyers for Eye-affiliated parties, openings, and events
  • A collection of photography of the downtown scene by a roster of acclaimed photographers employed or engaged by the Eye, including Marcia Resnick, Eric Kroll, Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, and others
  • Candid and behind-the-scenes snapshots of Abrams and the Eye staff and contributors at work and as participants in the neighborhood's vibrant nightlife
Per the NYPL: "The records of the Eye will be essential to researchers studying the evolution of the punk movement, the growth of hip-hop, the rise of HIV/AIDS, and the early careers of artists like Basquiat, Mapplethorpe and Fab Five Freddy."
Researchers can access the East Village Eye records in the Brooke Russell Astor Reading Room for Rare Books and Manuscripts at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, 476 Fifth Ave. at 42nd St. (Find more info here.)

You can learn more about the East Village Eye records from the collection guide and this blog post by the NYPL's Golia.
Sadly, Abrams (above left with Fab Five Freddy) died suddenly last April, only a few months after the collection came to the NYPL. He was 68. 

The NYPL "is proud to provide access to the archive that represents Abrams' important cultural and journalistic legacy."

Previously on EVG:


JM said...

For anyone who still rankles, over 45 years later, about the supposed English origins of punk, I recommend the Richard Hell article you've reproduced from the EV Eye. He sets the record straight. It still drives me nuts that the bullshit pumped out by the press back in the later 70s still gives people the notion that the Pistols, the Clash, whoever, were the pioneers of punk and New Wave. Hell's correction of "history" is worth reading--the clarity and skill of the writing make it a pleasure, too.

Mickey said...

Beyond fabulous!

annabelee said...

Totally agree @JM!

J said...

completely awesome

j said...

The Hell article is good, remember that and the "Shots Heard" weekly listing fondly from back in the day. But really, isn't Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lover's "Roadrunner, recorded in 1972, the original punk rock? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy88-5pc7c8

XTC said...

It's pretty clear that CBGB's was the ground zero for Punk Rock, that is, it was the catalyst that launched 1,000 Bands. However for me personally the attitude of punk starts with "I'm Not Like Everyone Else", 1966, by the Kinks. The Ramones were a fully formed band and concept by 1974. It's also a historical fact that the first punk record in England was recorded by the Damned (great band), not the Clash or Water Pistols. Of all the English bands I'd have say the Stranglers were possibly the most innovative. WIRE, also from the London scene, was the most original purposely ignoring a Rock/ R &B template. Johny Rotten will deny it to his grave but he for sure he copied Richard Hell's safety pin and spiky hair getup. As I see it, CB's circa 76 - 81 was a blast, a historical moment, and a virus that's still spreading around the World.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone who posted.
I think Woodie Guthrie and Johnny Cash were the 1st punk...hey just my opinion and my true loves. Got to say, Hell is gorgeous 😍

Unknown said...

Leonard Abrams was the maestro, conductor, publisher of EVEYE. April 1st will mark the first anniversary of his death. What a date. We, who knew him closely still mourn his death, yet celebrate his many accomplishments. Congratulations!!

XTC said...

@8:24- Cash and Guthrie were products of the beatnik/ hippie generation. Outsiders and great talents in their own right but , among other things, they wanted to change the system- stick it to the Man, as it were.
The Punks wanted to destroy the system.Far more nihilistic but in fun kind of way. People like James Chance and Lydia Lunch didn't want to entertain you as much as assault you. On the other hand Blondie does a really sweet version of Cash's Ring of Fire so it's all good. The Damned covering the Beatles Help is a bit underwhelming but let's see if they play it at the Hammerstein in May.

Anonymous said...

@XTC 100% AGREE 👍🏻