NPR logo

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491699644/491699645" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

Book News & Features

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

Ed Sanders, Author Of Manson Family Biography, To Sell Massive Archive

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/491699644/491699645" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sanders wrote the definitive book on the Manson Family ("The Family.") He's currently working on a book about Robert Kennedy. He's decided to sell the assembled work on which he's based his research.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

Ed Sanders is a kind of godfather scholar of the 1960s counterculture. He wrote the definitive book on the Manson family. He co-founded the rock band The Fugs. And his latest project is a book about Robert Kennedy. Now he's selling the massive archive of files he built over half a century to tell his stories. Jon Kalish visited Sanders at home in Woodstock, N.Y., and reports that the 76-year-old poet, musician and scholar has decided it's time to start thinking about retirement.

JON KALISH, BYLINE: Ed Sanders' archive fills 400 banker's boxes.

ED SANDERS: I have files on many things. I'm a compulsive filemaker.

KALISH: He could pass for a college professor with his bushy mustache and tweed jacket, sporting a button for Bernie Sanders - no relation.

SANDERS: This is a garage, which is packed floor to ceiling with my chronological archives.

KALISH: He's got them organized by date and subject, all carefully catalogued in a 200-page single-spaced directory. Attached to the garage is a small building that used to be his writing studio until it, too, filled up with boxes. Sanders opens one of them and pulls out a record of him performing a poem.

(SOUNDBITE OF POEM, "YIDDISH SPEAKING SOCIALISTS OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE")

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) They were the Yiddish-speaking socialists of the Lower East Side.

SANDERS: You could send one of these to Bernie Sanders.

(SOUNDBITE OF POEM, "YIDDISH SPEAKING SOCIALISTS OF THE LOWER EAST SIDE")

UNIDENTIFIED MEN: (Singing) La, la, la, la, la, la, la...

KALISH: Three sheds on his property hold even more. None of them are climate controlled. One of the sheds contains 18 boxes filled with files, photographs and memorabilia Sanders accumulated while researching the Manson family.

SANDERS: Files and files and files and files.

KALISH: Manhattan publisher Steve Clay is handling the sale of Sanders' archive.

STEVE CLAY: I see Ed's archive as one of the great '60s archives out there. I love this one. This is a flyer. Protest against the rudeness, brusqueness, crudeness and violence of narcotics agents, a benefit featuring underground movies plus The Fugs

KALISH: The Fugs were Sanders' long-running band, and he's got their recordings archived too.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YODELING YIPPIE")

THE FUGS: (Singing) Well, I ride the left wing airlines, stirring up trouble at night, secret signs and secret deeds, I'm just a yodeling yippie.

KALISH: The band got its start playing at concerts and protests throughout the 1960s. That's also when he ran the Peace Eye Bookstore and became involved in First Amendment battles over obscenity.

KEN LOPEZ: Ed Sanders in particular was kind of right in the middle of a lot of that.

KALISH: Ken Lopez is a dealer who's handled the sales of archives belonging to writers William Burroughs and Robert Stone. He says Sanders' papers cover a crucial period in American history.

LOPEZ: Culturally and historically and literarily, this sheds a lot of light on important changes that were taking place. It definitely would be an archive with great scholarly value.

KALISH: Not to mention monetary. Estimates for the archive range from the low six figures to a million dollars or more. Sitting in his house, Sanders says the archive has become a part of his life.

SANDERS: I like my archive. It's a living thing. It's like a life form. It's like a big mushroom out there.

KALISH: The archive, of course, will stop growing once Ed Sanders sells it, but he's not quite ready to hand over all of his files. He'll hold on to some for a book-length poem about Robert F. Kennedy and for his unfinished multi-volume autobiography. For NPR News, I'm Jon Kalish in New York.

Copyright © 2016 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.