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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1051

Papers of Ann Petry, 1938-2013 (inclusive), 1973-1997 (bulk)


Correspondence between African American writer Ann Petry and Suffolk University English professor Edward Clark.


  • 1938-2013
  • Majority of material found within 1973-1997

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in these papers created by Ann Petry and Edward Clark is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


.63 linear feet ((1+1/2 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders)

The Ann Petry papers contain an address book, event programs, clippings, and correspondence with English professor Edward Clark and his wife, Leah R. Caliri-Clark. Edward Clark, a professor at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, taught the first class there on African American literature in the early 1970s and invited Petry to be part of a related lecture series. In 1978 Clark attempted to secure Petry a Writer-in-residence position at Suffolk, but was unsuccessful. Clark and Petry continued to correspond, and after several in-person visits, their spouses began to correspond as well. The letters represent a candid and warm friendship over several decades. Both Petry and Clark describe daily life, travels, health, gardening, and food. Petry shared a number of recipes with Leah Calari-Clark.

Material was organized and titled by the archivist. Collection is arranged alphabetically by folder title.


Writer Ann Petry was born October 12, 1908, to Peter and Bertha James Lane in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Her aunt, Anna Louise James, was the first African American woman licensed pharmacist in Connecticut. Ann Petry earned a degree in pharmacy from Connecticut College of Pharmacy in 1931 and worked for several years in the family pharmacy. In 1938 she married George D. Petry and they moved to Harlem where she completed a novel entitled The Street, based upon her experiences there. Published in 1946, The Street won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship and went on to sell over a million copies. In 1947 the Petrys returned to live in Old Saybrook, where they raised their daughter, Elisabeth. Ann Petry published The Narrows (1953), Miss Muriel and Other Stories (1971) and a number of children's books, including Tituba of Salem Village (1955). Ann Petry died on April 28, 1997, in Old Saybrook, Connecticut.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2011-M186, 2012-M7

These papers of Ann Petry were given to the Schlesinger Library by her daughter, Elisabeth Petry, and Edward Clark in October 2011, and by Edward Clark in January 2012.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Anna Louise James papers (MC 440). There is related material at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library; see Ann Petry manuscripts (JWJ MSS 206). There is related material at Boston University; see Ann Petry Collection (#1391).

Processing Information

Processed: March 2020

By: Jenny Gotwals.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Alice Jeanette Ward Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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