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Contents and Arrangement | A Finding Aid to the Paul Ryan papers, 1931-2009

Paul Ryan papers, 1931-2009

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Series 1: Biographical Material, 1931-2003
0.8 linear feet
Boxes 1, 20

Biographical material includes personal and family papers of Paul Ryan, school records, letters home written during his years as a Catholic monk, photographs, and documents summarizing Ryan's career, and other personal records.
Family papers include certificates and early letters between family members other than Ryan, including a letter which appears to have been written on the occasion of his birth. Keepsakes include a vintage postcard of Niagara Falls and a "serenity prayer" card. Photographs are of Ryan, family, and friends and are mainly unlabeled snapshots, although a few photographs of Ryan himself are black and white prints which appear to have been made for publicity purposes.
Also in this series are Ryan's bi-monthly letters home from the seminary and monastery where he lived in monastic communities between 1960 and 1965, as well as his resignation letter from the monastery and its response. A letter from the Selective Service documenting the completion of his obligation in 1969 is also filed in this series.
School records include class notes from high school, seminary, and college; school papers; diplomas; transcripts; and school publications, some of which contain articles written by Ryan and articles about him as a student athlete.
Additional family writings are found by Paul Ryan's brother Jim Ryan, a poet, in series 5, Project files and series 3, Writings. Additional letters between Ryan and family are found in series 2, Correspondence. A long essay written by Ryan about leaving the Passionist monastery is found in series 3, Writings. Additional writings by Ryan during his school years are also found in writings under the headings "poetry" and "short stories." Additional photographs are found in series 5, Projects.

Series 2: Correspondence, 1965-2007
2 linear feet
Boxes 1-3

Series contains both personal and professional correspondence between Ryan and family members, friends, collaborators, and other colleagues. Professional correspondence is found with Myrdene Anderson, Peter Berg of Planet Drum, Morris Berman, Avery Johnson, Jack Burnham, Red Burns, Bob Harris, Marga Bijvoet, Thomas Berry, Lois Biachi, David Dunn, Roberta Kevelson, Gerrit Lansing, Oliver Lowenstein, Aldo Lira, Chip Lord, Claude Ponsol, Jody Procter, Jodi Sibert, Phyllis Gershuny Segura, Michael Shamberg, Marita Sturken, and Howard Wise. Corporate correspondence is found regarding job applications, manuscript submissions to publishers, and video submissions to museums and broadcasters.
Correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Letters regarding institutional relationship with Ryan filed by corporate name; otherwise letters are filed by personal name. Correspondents with 3 or more letters have their own folders. Otherwise letters are filed in a general alphabetical file. Significant correspondents in general files are noted in the folder listing. Where outgoing letters written by Ran were found alongside incoming letters, the outgoing and incoming letters are kept together under correspondent's name. Otherwise, Ryan's outgoing letters and drafts of letters are filed chronologically under Ryan's name. Letters signed only with first names, unsigned, and illegibly signed letters are filed at the end of the series.
Letters from Ryan to his family during his years in the monastery (1960-1964) are found in series 1, Biographical materials, as are letters among Ryan's family members written before he was born. Additional correspondence concerning Ryan's professional life is found in Series 4, Organizational Records, Series 5, Projects, and Series 6, Teaching Files.

Series 3: Writings, 1955-2001
6.8 linear feet
Boxes 3-10, 20

Writings include mainly articles, lectures, book drafts, and notebooks by Ryan. Also found are poetry, short stories, a treatment for a television show, and writings by others in various genres. Most of Ryan's prose writing is theoretical in nature, although personal writings and notes from projects are also found. His core ideas are found in multiple forms, re-worked and revised for new publications and new applications. Articles include both published and unpublished writings, with some published multiple times under different titles. Some of the writings filed under articles are short essays in draft form which may have been incorporated into other works. Several of the articles were later collected in books. Books are documented with multiple drafts of
Cybernetics of the Sacred
Video Mind, Earth Mind
, as well as contracts and correspondence with publishers, layout documents, and notes. The article "Art and Survival: The Earthscore Notational System" brings together many of Ryan's core theories and ideas about their implementation.
Notebooks include over 100 notebooks spanning 40 years, and are arranged chronologically. Many notebooks contain notes related to later published works or projects, and such notes can be located by the date of the work. Notebooks in this series typically cover many subjects or do not relate in an obvious way to a single project. Some of the early notebooks have a subject written by Ryan on their cover, and where this is the case it has been included in the container listing. Some of the early notebooks are more like journals, and others contain journal entries along with drafts of letters, articles, or project notes.
Writings are arranged by type of material. Most of the writings are arranged alphabetically by title if one exists, or by subject matter if no title is given. Notebooks were processed to a minimal level and arranged chronologically. Notebooks containing notes relating to a single project or work are filed with that project or work. Those filed in this series have heterogeneous content and cover a range of subjects. Note cards and loose notes were sorted loosely by subject during processing.
Significant additional writings are also found in series 5, Project Files, in the form of project documentation and proposals. Writings in published form are found in series 7, Printed Material. A lengthy script and drafts of the project "Video Wake for my Father" by Ryan is found in Series 5.3 Other Projects. Writings and other records related to Earthscore are found in series 4, Organizational Records.

Series 4: Organizational Records, 1968-1996
1.2 linear feet
Boxes 10-11, 20, OV 21

Organizational records include writings, correspondence, printed material, financial records, grant proposals, and other records concerning various organizations, collectives, and companies in which Ryan participated, mostly having to do with environmental advocacy, video production, or a combination of the two. Organizations with substantial records in this series include the Earth Environmental Group, the Earthscore Foundation, Environment '89 (and '90, '91, and '92), the Gaia Institute, Raindance Corporation, Responsive Environments Corporation, and Space Videoarts.
Documentation of the organization the Earthscore Foundation includes financial records, by-laws, writings, grant proposals, and printed material. Writings outline Ryan's Earthscore Notational System, among other projects. Grant proposals also contain significant description of the organization's projects. Gaia Institute records include mainly writings and notes, including a proposal for a conference series, "Professionals for the Earth."
Raindance Corporation records include a partial transcript of a 1970 interview with Ryan, excerpts of which appeared in the 2nd issue of
Radical Software
magazine, an essay about the video "Supermarket," flyers, lists of Raindance video productions, and exhibition announcements from a 1991 retrospective at the Whitney museum. A single contact sheet is unlabeled but contains photographs of Ryan, Buckminster Fuller, and possibly David Cort and Ira Schneider.
Responsive Environments Corporation records contain notes and writings produced by Ryan on potential commercial and educational uses for video, written in 1968 and 1969. Space Videoarts records include correspondence, financial records, grant proposals for start up funding, and a proposal for an ecological cable channel written by Ryan which is an early iteration of his work on what he later called eco-channel design.
Series is arranged alphabetically by organization name. Additional Raindance Corporation is filed in series 7, Printed Materials. Additional material related to Earthscore and other environmental organizations is found in series 3, Writings, and series 5, Project files.

Series 5: Project Files, 1968-2008
6.5 linear feet
Boxes 11-17, 20, OV 21-22, 24, RD 26

This series includes documentation of projects Ryan carried out or participated in, including video productions, performances, conferences, art projects, and publications.
Many of the projects documented in this series reflect Ryan's explorations of the use of video to monitor and interpret two seemingly different subjects, environmental change and human behavior in relationships, explored through a routine invented by Ryan called triadic behavior, or threeing. Other projects document early explorations of the use of video, mainly "Video Wake for my Father," a performance for video that saw many iterations, including a private performance, a public performance, an edited video program, and a published script.
The series includes 47 videocassettes (U-Matic) out of the hundreds of video recordings created by Ryan. A printout of the database Ryan kept of his video recordings is available in series 5.3: Other Projects, under the heading "Video Preservation." Tape numbers listed in the container list for this series refer to numbers assigned in that database and on the tapes themselves.
See detailed descriptions below for more information about the content of the series.
5.1: Environmental Projects
5.2: Threeing Projects
5.3: Other Projects
Documentation is filed alphabetically under a project title where one exists. Projects for which only a proposal or outline exists are filed under the heading of proposals. Many of the projects and proposals represented in this series are related to one another and contain related documentation. Cross-references are supplied in the container listing to point researchers to related documentation.
See also series 6, Teaching Files, for documentation of educational programs developed as an outgrowth of the Earthscore Notational System; series 4, Organizational Records, for records relating to organizations that supported Ryan's video work; and series 3, Writings, for related theoretical writings closely related to the projects in this series.
Series is arranged as 3 subseries:

Series 6: Teaching Files, 1967-2008
0.7 linear feet
Box 17

Series contains contracts, syllabi, course descriptions, teacher evaluations, workshop descriptions, notes in development of courses, grant proposal for course development, student work, correspondence related to academic job hunting. Records in this series relate to teaching jobs Ryan held at The Hudson School, the Dalton School, Ramapo College, and Savannah college of Art and Design, as well as teaching projects and workshops supported by various organizations and government agencies. Course subjects include media, communications, video production, environment, theory, semiotics, and the Earthscore system applied in various educational contexts. Multiple curricula are found combining video production training with environmental education, particularly the Black Rock Rangers at Dalton School, and the Urban Conservation Corps Video Pilot Program.
Additional material related to Ryan's teaching is found in Biographical Material and Correspondence.

Series 7: Printed Material, 1968-2009
1.6 linear feet
Boxes 18-20, OV 23, 25

Series contains books, newspaper clippings, conference programs and published proceedings, exhibition catalogs and announcements, film and video programs, flyers, periodicals, poetry publications, and posters, and materials relating to the artist Al Robbins, which includes an obituary written by Ryan. Also found are publications of the Raindance Corporation, which have been filed together under that heading. Raindance publications include the book,
Guerrilla Television
(1971), and four issues of their magazine,
Radical Software
(1971-1972). Most of the material in this series was either written by Paul Ryan, contains articles by Paul Ryan, or documents activities of Paul Ryan. Other materials found contain works by Ryan's associates and collaborators.
Arrangement is alphabetical by type, then chronologically within each type. Additional material related to the Raindance Corporation is found in series 4, Organizational Records. Additional writings in draft form are in series 3, Writings. Illustrations from many of Ryan's publications found here are found in draft and mechanical form in series 5.2, Threeing Projects. Additional posters related to projects are found in series 5, Project Files.

Series 8: Artwork, 1965-2003
0.1 linear feet
Boxes 19-20, OV 22

Series contains artists' books, doodles, illustrations, prints, and photographs by named and unnamed artists. None of the artwork in this series appears to be by Ryan. Notable is an artist's book entitled "Patterns" by Lida Zerella, which incorporates still images from Ryan's Triadic Tapes in a small album. Two illustrations by Claude Ponsot, who also illustrated many of Ryan's publications relating to Kleinform and threeing, are also found.
Additional artwork is found in series 5.2, Threeing projects. Video used as source material for Linda Zarello's book "Patterns" is also found in series 5.2.

Make a Request

  • To request an appointment to view materials, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reading Room" button. Please note, you will receive the full box.
  • To request reproductions, make your selections using the checkboxes and click the "Reproduction" button.