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Michael Shapiro Papers, 1981-2019

Identifier: 042

Collection Overview

This collection contains the broadsides, cartoons, publications, and poetry of Michael Shapiro. His particular interest is American Yiddish poets from the early twentieth century. These poets include Anna Margolin (b. Rosa Lebensboym), Rachel Korn, Celia Dropkin, and Moishe-Leib Halpern. English translations of the poets are included with the artwork. “Don’t Think I’ve Changed,” by Margolin is from Drunk From the Bitter Truth, translated by Shirley Kumove. “On the Other Side of the Poem,” by Rachel Korn is from An Anthology of Modern Yiddish Poetry, bilingual edition, selected and translated by Ruth Whitman, originally published by Workmen's Circle and later by Wayne State University Press. Shapiro translated “Who Is?,” “Evening,” and “A Shikse by the Sea” by Halpern, “To Lucifer” and “My Hands” by Dropkin, and “Darkened Room” and “Slowly and Luminously” by Anna Margolin. On the Halpern broadside, the drawing of the man is based on a self-portrait by Halpern.

Shapiro has collaborated with local, national, and international poets to create signed, limited edition broadsides. These broadsides were created for poetry festivals as well as readings, many of which took place at the Cambridge Public Library. The poem “Romance of the Romances,” is by Cambridge Public Library employee Daniel Wuenschel, inspired by his shelving of romance novels. Shapiro collaborated with Wuenschel on the chapbook, Leviathan, in the collection under publications.

Included in the collection is Shapiro’s illustration of the Ern Malley poems. Ernest Lalor “Ern” Malley was a fictitious poet and the central figure in Australia’s most celebrated literary hoax. Malley and his entire body of work were created in one day in 1943 by writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart to prank Max Harris and Angry Penguins, the modernist magazine Harris had founded and edited.

The collection includes three of Shapiro’s plays. The 1981 “A Set of Skits and Songs for Street Theatre” comes with instructions for production. Shapiro wrote the skit, Milton Friedman as Witch Doctor, for “Perverse, Immoral, and Profane” (1981) performed by the Newbury Street Theater. Shapiro was also in the play. “I Tell you These Things are Real,” was performed off Broadway at the Producers Club in New York City on March 22 and 23, 2002.

The underground publication, A House United Against Itself, is a zine founded by the Reverend Crowbar (also known as David Nestle and David Crowbar; his real name was David Molinar and has since become a woman and goes by Susan Poe), who also published Popular Reality one of the largest anarchist zines in Ann Arbor, Michigan. A House United Against Itself was published between 1988 and 1994 and was affiliated with other zines published at the time, which were referred to as the United Front Ministries and was connected to the Church of the SubGenius. During this time, there was a subculture of people who took pseudonyms, gave themselves titles, purchased P.O. Boxes, and published zines, which they traded among themselves. The catalyst for this trading was Factsheet Five, which was published as a zine directory. Shapiro, whose pseudonym was the Rev. Etc. with the title Minister of Propaganda, later took over A House United Against. Numbers and issues do not correlate to any real chronology of publication. The number penciled on the back of each publication corresponds to the order in which they were published.

The collection also contains a folder of ephemera collected by Shapiro from local businesses on Massachusetts Avenue in Porter Square in December 2016. He wished to capture a snapshot of Cambridge around the holidays.

Shapiro creates all his artwork digitally.


  • 1981-2019


Language of Materials

Yiddish, Hebrew, and English.

Access to Collection

This collection is open to research.

Conditions Governing Use

The material in this collection is subject to copyright and intellectual property restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to understand and observe copyright law and to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyright. Researchers must obtain written permission from the copyright holder(s) if they wish to publish materials from this collection. Questions concerning copyright and permission to publish should be directed to the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections.


Michael Shapiro was born in 1948 in New York City and grew up in Woodside, Queens. He earned a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Boston in 1983, a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1988, and a M.E. in Computer Science from Cornell University in 2000. Shapiro grew up in a leftist Jewish household and came of age during the 1960s, participating in the counter culture revolution. Shapiro self describes as a Marginal, part of the Marginal Scene. He has lived for many years in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His is married to Mary Kerins.


2.1 Linear feet

.8 Cubic Feet

2 boxes (1 Hollinger box and 1 oversize)

125 Items

Organization of Collection

Approximatley 125 items grouped alphabetically by title into the following series and subseries:

Series 1: Artwork

Series 2.1: Broadsides, General

Series 2.2: Broadsides, Poems by Michael Shapiro

Series 2.3: Broadsides, Signed Limited Editions

Series 3: Cartoons

Series 4: Ephemera

Series 4.1: Ephemera

Series 4.2: Flyers, Porter Square Businesses along Mass Ave., December 2016

Series 5: The Illustrated Ern Malley

Series 6: Plays

Series 7: Publications

Custodial History

Donated by Michael Shapiro in June 2013. New accessions regularly added to the collection.

Processing Information

Processed by Alyssa Pacy in June 2013 and April 2016. Encoded by Alyssa Pacy in April 2016.
Finding aid to the Michael Shapiro Papers, 1981-2019 042
Alyssa Pacy
25 June 2013
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Room, Cambridge Public Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Cambridge Public Library
449 Broadway
Cambridge MA 02138 USA