City Life Org – Special Installation Celebrates Anniversary With Archival Treasures And Highlights From The Pen America Archive

PEN Club dinner for Nobel laureate Sinclair Lewis, Hotel Commodore, November 25, 1930. PEN American Center Records/Princeton University Library


PEN America at 100: A Century of Defending the Written Word is a special new installation at the New-York Historical Society featuring artifacts – letters, posters, photographs, awards and other ephemera from 1922-2022 – that illustrate PEN America’s enduring mission to promote a diverse literary culture, campaign against censorship and banning of books, and championing speech across borders and languages.

Beginning as a dining club for writers after World War I, PEN America’s vital literary community has grown into an international human rights organization united to protect essential freedoms and honor the power of the written word. . To celebrate its 100th anniversary, the installation examines the complex and powerful history of PEN America through some of its esteemed members.

Highlights include a letter from poet TS Eliot in 1948, expressing his “distress and terror” at a dinner party held in his honor; invitations to cocktail parties sent between 1951 and 1974; a note from poet and novelist Jack Kerouac in 1957, in which he wrote that he “always lived on the basis of the ‘beat'” and withheld payment of his dues until his royalties were received; a poster of A celebration of James Baldwin in 2001; a copy of Burn This Book: PEN Authors Talk the Power of the Word, edited by Toni Morrison; and photographs of literary luminaries and various members, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Arthur Miller, Pablo Neruda, Susan Sontag, and Margaret Atwood.

PEN America at 100 is on view from July 22 to October 9, 2022

Wednesday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday – Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

New York Historical Society
170 Central Park West (at 77th Street)
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400

Adults: $22
Elders/Educators/Serving Military: $17
Students: $13
Children (5 to 13 years old): $6
Children (4 and under): Free
*A la carte Fridays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

PEN America Writers Resist Rally, New York Public Library, January 15, 2017. © Beowulf Sheehan/PEN America

About the New York Historical Society
Discover 400 years of history through groundbreaking exhibits, immersive films, and thought-provoking conversations between renowned historians and public figures at the New-York Historical Society, New York’s premier museum. A great destination for history since 1804, the Patricia D. Klingenstein Museum and Library conveys the stories of the diverse populations of the city and country, expanding our understanding of who we are as Americans and how we have become. Always up to the challenge of bringing to light little or unknown stories, New-York Historical will soon inaugurate a new annex housing its Academy for American Democracy as well as the American LGBTQ+ Museum. These latest efforts to help shape the future by documenting the past join New York Historical’s DiMenna Children’s History Museum and Women’s History Center. Digital exhibitions, applications and our For the ages podcast allow visitors from around the world to dive deeper into the story. Connect with us at or @nyhistory on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, YouTube and Tumblr.

Leave a Comment