Mad Men Archive Lands at HRC

Matthew Weiner show archive parks its fedora at Harry Ransom Center

Grab your fedoras. With the announcement of the donation of the complete Mad Men archive to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, the acclaimed TV drama about the professional and personal lives of advertising men and women of the Sixties, has landed a permanent home in Austin.

Lionsgate and Matthew Weiner, the creator, executive producer, writer, and director of Mad Men, made the donation with the hope that the archive “can satisfy academic curiosity and also provide creative inspiration.” The donated materials include script drafts and notes, props, costumes, digital records, and video relating to the creation, production, and marketing of the series. The Mad Men archive will be a welcome complement to the Ransom Center’s world-class film collection, which also houses the collection of David O. Selznick, Gloria Swanson, and Robert De Niro.

Steve Wilson, the Ransom Center’s curator of film, notes that “Mad Men is a groundbreaking program, noteworthy for the high quality of its writing, acting, and design, as well as for the insightful depiction of American culture through the lens of the past. Through the Mad Men holdings, students and scholars will gain new insights into the creative decisions that shaped the series and a greater understanding of the evolution of motion pictures.”

In relating how he reached his decision to house the archive at the Austin institution, Weiner recalls, “I was at the Austin Film Festival and visited the Ransom Center and its extraordinary Gone With the Wind exhibit as a tourist. We were at dinner that night with screenwriting team Michael Weber and Scott Neustadter and found out that Michael had overseen the donation of Robert De Niro’s archives. He gave me [Ransom Center Curator of Film] Steve Wilson’s contact; we went to the museum again; I found out that Gabriel García Márquez, Norman Mailer, and James Joyce had all been recently added; and from then on it was my hope to be part of such an amazing place.”

Matthew Weiner, fourth from left, in the Mad Men writers' room (courtesy of Harry Ransom Center)

Materials from the series’ 92 hourlong episodes include inspiration boards and lookbooks of period fashion and home- and office-design, set and costume drawings, scripts, shooting schedules, and call sheets. Production footage includes dailies, screen tests, gag and demo reels, trailers, and publicity material. The donation ensures that the Ransom Center will be a must-visit archive for students of television history for decades to come.

The Ransom Center will conserve and catalog the materials, which will then be made available for exhibition, teaching, and research. A selection of materials from the archive will be on view in the Ransom Center’s lobby through Feb. 1.

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