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Memorandum from the Director of the Press to Members of the Yale Faculty, April 24, 1917.
Yale University Press Records (1910-1979). Manuscripts & Archives, Yale University.

Carmen Lee 09, On the Yale University Press

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The two World Wars made more explicit the political role of the Press. This memo dated April, 1917 was distributed to unnamed authors published by the Yale Press in the name of the organization itself, asking for information, presumably for the purposes of publication, about any work its authors may have been “undertaking to further the Cause.” The Press’s interest in demonstrated patriotism during wartime returned in a more controversial fashion during World War Two, when at a Board meeting “it was agreed that from now on we must consider more carefully than ever before the character and quality of all manuscripts submitted for publication.” Whether discontinuing the printing of undersold books in order to sell their plates to the military or using political considerations when selecting manuscripts, the Press took its wartime efforts seriously. Most famously, the decision to sever Press ties with the poet Ezra Pound was made even before he was tried for treason, because of his political affiliation with the Axis powers during World War Two. During both wars, tensions emerged between the Press’s understanding of itself as a player in the public arena, with the attendant duties to the American people, and the pursuit of politically independent scholarship.