Skip to main content

Nelson Algren-Stephen Deutch papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Algren-Deutch

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, biographical information, photographs, publicity, works, and other material relating to Nelson Algren, Stephen Deutch, or both.

Correspondence from Algren to Deutch go back to 1961, after Deutch first photographed Algren. There are no letters from Deutch to Algren. Topics of the letters include some business about Poetry Magazine (1962), family matters, Algren's travels, Algren's books and how they're doing commercially, and invitations to parties or other social events, such as the racetrack. Photographs by Deutch include black and white prints (mounted and unmounted), contact sheets, and negatives, and a few color transparencies. There are also a couple of photographic black and white prints taken by Algren in Vietnam, and some miscellaneous prints and transparencies taken by Deutch on other topics and people. Titles in quotation marks indicate the titles supplied by Deutch on the original negative sleeves. Publicity includes newsclippings and brochures advertising the annual Nelson Algren birthday bash held in Chicago after his death and into the 1990s. Works are mostly newspaper and magazine articles, many of which are from the journal The Critic. Audio material includes a recording of the Algren memorial at Second City, held shortly after his death, as well as a recording of Algren reading "Dark Came Early That Morning."


  • Creation: 1951-2014



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Nelson Algren-Stephen Deutch papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Nelson Algren-Stephen Deutch papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. Copyright of Stephen Deutch's photographs belong to the children of Stephen Deutch. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Nelson Algren

Chicago-based novelist and writer.

Nelson Algren (originally Nelson Ahlgren Abraham) was born in 1909 in Detroit, MI. His family moved to Chicago when he was three years old. He grew up in the city and went on to study journalism at the University of Illinois. He published his first story, “So Help Me,” in 1933 to enthusiastic critical reception. This first two novels, Somebody in Boots (1935) and Never Come Morning (1942), soon followed. His literary career was interrupted by World War II, during which Algren served in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

Upon his return to Chicago, Algren rose to the height of his popularity with The Neon Wilderness (1947), which was honored by the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and The Man with the Golden Arm (1949). The latter received the inaugural National Book Award for fiction. He followed these successes with A Walk on the Wild Side (1956), and in 1951 he published the long prose poem Chicago, City on the Make. Limited by anti-communist sentiment and literary censorship, Algren turned away from novel writing in the mid-1950s. While he continued composing short stories and works of nonfiction, his writing career dipped into relative obscurity. Some of his later writings include a collection of travel essays titled Who Lost an American? (1963) and Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way (1965).

In 1974, Algren moved to the East Coast, spending time in Paterson, NJ before settling in Sag Harbor on Long Island. Before his death, his writings garnered a second wave of attention, and he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1981. He died of a heart attack three months later. The Devil’s Stocking, Algren’s final novel, was published posthumously in 1983.

Biography of Stephen Deutch

Chicago-based documentary and commercial photographer.

Stephen Deutch was born in 1908 in Pest, Hungary. He immigrated to Chicago in 1936 and worked as a commercial photographer from 1936 to 1983. He worked for Coronet magazine, and also Ebony and Jet, all based in Chicago. He befriended Nelson Algren in 1960, when he was on assignment to photograph him. Deutch also produced sculptures and artistic photographs, and had one-man gallery shows at the Chicago Public Library, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Chicago Cultural Center.

Deutch also photographed daily life in Chicago, and according to friend Studs Terkel, he "captures the whole scene... He sees it, feels it, and snaps it." Deutch died in 1997 at the age of 88.


3.2 Linear Feet (5 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, photographs, publicity, works, and miscellaneous material about author Nelson Algren and photographer Stephen Deutch. Collection shows the friendship between the men, and consists mainly of material Deutch collected from and about Algren. Also includes files kept by Deutch's daughter Katherine Deutch Tatlock regarding her attempts to fund and make a documentary film about Algren.


Collection arranged by type of material.

Collection Stack Location

1 41 6


Purchase, 2019.

Related Material in other Repositories

Stephen Deutch photographs are also housed at the Chicago History Museum.

The largest collection of Nelson Algren material is held by Ohio State University, who purchased the papers from Algren in 1961, 1965, and 1981. There are also Algren collections at the Chicago Public Library and at the Newberry Library (see Newberry's Nelson Algren Papers and Nelson Algren - Christine and Neal Rowland Papers).

Separated Materials: Books Cataloged Separately

The following monographs and serials came with the Algren-Deutch Papers and were separated out to be cataloged individually. See the Newberry Library online catalog for call numbers.

  • Algren, Nelson. the Devil's Stocking. New York: The Arbor House Library of Contemporary Americana, 1983.
  • Algren, Nelson. Nelson Algren's Own Book of Lonesome Monsters. New York: Bernard Geis Associates, 1963.
  • Algren, Nelson. Never Come Morning. New York: Berkeley Publishing Corp., 1968
  • Algren, Nelson. Notes from a Sea Diary: Hemingway All the Way. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1965.
  • Donohue, H.E.F. conversations with Nelson Algren. New York: Hill and Wang, 1964.
  • Fernand Léger [exhibition catalog]. Chicago: Institute of Design, 1944.

Separated Materials: Books Deaccessioned

The following monographs came with the Algren-Deutch Papers and were deaccessioned.

  • Maharashta Tourism. Ajanta. Bombay: Produced by the Directorate of Tourism, Government of Maharashtra through Marg Publications and Tata McGraw-Hill Pub. Co., 1970s
  • Chevallier, Gabriel. Dubout. Monte Carlo: Editions du Livre, 1944
  • Deutch, Stephen. Stephen Deutch, photographer: from Paris to Chicago, 1932-1989. Chicago: TriQuarterly Books, 1989
  • Male, Emile. Auvergne. France: Published by the French Government, Dec. 1951

Processed by

Alison Hinderliter, 2020.

Inventory of the Nelson Algren-Stephen Deutch papers, 1951-2014
Alison Hinderliter
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States