Mad Men archive donated to Harry Ransom Center

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Harry Ransom Center

It’s common practice for production materials to be auctioned off after a television show ends, but the creator of “Mad Men” wanted to do something different.

“Mad Men” series creator Matthew Weiner and Lionsgate, which produced the critically acclaimed series, donated the “Mad Men” archive to the Harry Ransom Center. The collection includes props, script drafts and notes, costumes, digital records, and videos. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History also received items from the series.

Weiner discussed his reservations about auctioning off the show’s items with Michael Weber, Robert De Niro’s former assistant who worked with the HRC in the past.

After visiting the HRC and seeing the “Gone with the Wind” exhibit, Weiner decided he wanted to do the same with “Mad Men.”  

Steve Wilson, curator of film at the HRC, said the HRC received every version of each script for all 92 “Mad Men” episodes.

“We can learn a lot about ourselves and the world we live in through the arts,” Wilson said. “There’s going to be a tremendous amount of story material and character material that never made it into the show that fans can explore.”

“Mad Men” received widespread critical acclaim for its writing, acting and historical authenticity. The series won many awards, including 16 Emmys and five Golden Globes.

Advertising sophomore Hector Deleon said watching the series in high school strengthened his interest in the advertising industry.

“The show makes advertising seem so glamorous,” Deleon said. “Advertising is a balance between art and business, and as someone who wanted to work in the creative industry, I wanted something that would allow me to be creative but still has structure.”   

Students can visit the HRC’s lobby to see a selection of materials from the archive through Feb. 1. The items featured in the lobby include Joan Harris’ pen necklace and steno pad, Don Draper’s terms of re-employment letter and Matthew Weiner’s “Production Binder.”

The series archive also contains information about the work of the actors, designers, writers, producers and creative direction.

Nutrition senior Carla Cos said she visits the HRC every time there’s a new exhibit.

“It’s important to preserve history so that everyone can enjoy it,” Cos said. “Having the HRC on campus is a great opportunity because students are more inclined to explore things beyond their major.”

The HRC plans to begin cataloging the more than 150 boxes of the donated materials in the next couple of weeks. The archive will be accessible for research once the cataloging is complete.