Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Ruas, Charles
Charles Ruas Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1860-2020 (mostly 1974-1990)
23 boxes, 18.8 linear feet, 9.8 GB, and 293 digital files
Storage Note:
This is stored in multiple locations. ReCAP (rcpxm): Box 1-14 Firestone Library (mss): Boxes B-001565 to B-001566, P-000155 to P-000161


Charles Ruas is an American author, interviewer, editor, literary and art critic, and French translator, who served as the Director of the Drama and Literature Department for New York's Pacifica radio station WBAI-FM in the late 1970s and interviewed writers for radio broadcast and print, including Toni Morrison, Michel Foucault, Carlos Fuentes, Eudora Welty, Susan Sontag, Truman Capote, Buckminster Fuller, Andy Warhol, Mario Vargas Llosa, and others. Included are photographs and documents on Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, the St. Marks poetry project, and avant-garde artists and performers. The papers include transcripts and audiocassette tapes of Ruas's interviews with authors and artists, as well as typescripts and galleys of work by writers Ruas edited, including Marguerite Young, and some related photographs, notes, recordings, and correspondence. There are also some translations and other writings by Charles Ruas, as well as a collection of family photographs and papers documenting the history of his family in Tianjin, China, from the 1860s through the mid-20th century.

Collection Description & Creator Information


The papers consist of materials related to Charles Ruas's work as a literary editor and interviewer, including transcripts, audiocassette tapes, and CD-ROMs of Ruas's interviews with writers and artists, typescripts and galleys of work by writers Ruas edited, manuscript materials he collected, as well as photographs, correspondence, recordings, and publicity materials that he kept regarding many of the authors with whom he worked.

Interview transcripts and recordings contain Ruas's author interviews, which he conducted for WBAI-FM, WPS1 Art Radio, The Paris Review, and Conversations with American Writers, a book of interviews he published in 1985. Writers represented in the interviews include Toni Morrison, Carlos Fuentes, Michel Foucault, Eudora Welty, Susan Sontag, Truman Capote, Buckminster Fuller, Andy Warhol, Mario Vargas Llosa, Norman Mailer, E. L. Doctorow, Tennessee Williams, Marguerite Young, James Laughlin, and others. While interviews primarily cover specific works by authors and the writing process, some tapes also document readings of work by writers and other live performances. The papers also include typescript drafts and galleys of books by writers whose work Ruas edited, including his own editorial drafts, as well as copies and manuscript materials that were gifted to him by authors, including Susan Howe, his co-host for poetry programming at WBAI-FM, and Marguerite Young, whose epic biography Harp Song for a Radical: The Life and Times of Eugene Victor Debs Ruas edited. Drafts and galleys of work by Helen Adam, Susan Sontag, and Djuna Barnes are also present, along with a group of dust jacket proofs. Also included are some correspondence, interview questions, photographs, and promotional materials from various writers Ruas interviewed or whose work he edited or reviewed.

A significant group of photographs of authors and artists was added to the collection beginning in 2016, including promotional photographs and portraits collected by Ruas, as well as shots from the WBAI recording studio. Some contact sheets and negatives are also present.

There are also some translations and other writings by Charles Ruas, including his translation of Death and the Labyrinth by Michel Foucault

A later addition includes a collection of family papers and photographs documenting the history of Tianjin, China, from the 1890s through the mid-20th century.


The collection is arranged into five primary file groups: Author and Artist Files; Interviews, Radio, and Television; Photographs; Translations and Writings; and Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection.

Collection Creator Biography:


Charles Ruas is an American author, interviewer, editor, literary and art critic, and French translator. Born in Tientsin, China, in 1938, Ruas studied French, English, and Comparative Literature at Princeton University, where he received a BA in 1960, MA in 1963, and PhD in 1970. Ruas was a Fulbright scholar at the Sorbonne in 1963 and 1964. From 1974 to 1979, Ruas served as the Director of the Drama and Literature Department for New York's Pacifica station WBAI-FM, where he interviewed many famous cultural and literary icons and initiated several innovative literary programs, including the Audio-Experimental Theatre, which fostered collaboration among artists on multimedia projects for radio, and The Reading Experiment, a year-long series of readings from Marguerite Young's novel Miss MacIntosh, My Darling. Ruas also developed radio programming for the Museum of Modern Art's WPS1 Art Radio, served as an editor for Marguerite Young and other writers, published literary and art criticism for The Soho Weekly News, ARTnews, and Art in America, and conducted interviews of writers for The New York Times Book Review and The Paris Review. In 1985, Ruas published Conversations with American Writers, which includes a group of interviews from the early 1980s with several major writers, including Toni Morrison, Eudora Welty, Truman Capote, Susan Sontag, and others. He lives and works in New York City.

Collection History


Gift of Charles Ruas in 2014-2021 (AM 2014-100, AM 2014-106, AM 2014-107, AM 2015-4, AM 2016-44, AM 2017-56, AM 2019-4, 2019-97, 2020-39, 2020-68, and 2021-54).


Nothing was removed from the collection during 2015-2021 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in January 2015. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in January 2015. Finding aid updated by Kelly Bolding with new materials in December 2015, November 2016, March 2017, July 2018, March 2020. Description for the Family Papers and Tianjin History Collection series was added by Kelly Bolding in June 2021, based on description provided by Charles Ruas and Joshua Seufert.

The born-digital materials in this collection have been processed according to Princeton University Library's Born-Digital Processing Workflows. For more information on the workflow, please read our full Born-Digital Processing Information Note.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

This collection contains digital files, which may require specific software or hardware for access. Refer to our Tips on Accessing Born-Digital Content for information on how to render these file formats.

Credit this material:

Charles Ruas Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184