Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999
Papers of Adrienne Cecile Rich, poet, author, feminist, and teacher.
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Unrestricted with the following exceptions: folders #47, 48, 96, 111, 113, 119-120, 121-123, 129-133, 135, 140, 144a, 296a, 400, 402a-403, 407, 410, 416, 419, 425 are closed to research until January 1, 2050. In March 2011, Adrienne Rich opened some previously closed items, and lengthened closures for others. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in these unpublished papers is held by the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust. Upon the termination of the literary trust, all right, title, and interest, including copyright and all extension and renewals thereof, in and to her unpublished papers in the collection will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute. Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Unpublished material written by Adrienne Rich may only be copied with the written permission of the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust. Published material may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Extent15 linear feet ((36 file boxes) plus 4 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 3 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 1 photograph folder, 8 slides, 3 audiotapes, 1 phonograph record)
The papers of Adrienne Rich include poems, stories, and plays written by Rich as a child; typescripts of later poems, essays, and translations; papers written by Rich while attending Radcliffe College and at Oxford; diaries, commonplace books, account books; correspondence with parents, friends, publishers, and other writers; published reviews by Rich; typescripts and galleys from W.W. Norton & Co; book reviews of Rich's works; drafts of speeches; material re: Rich's readings; and files concerning her teaching and workshops. Papers documenting her involvement in the women's movement cover such topics as international feminism, feminist publishing, motherhood, violence against women, and women in prison. There are pamphlets and issues of poetry magazines containing poems by Rich or poems by other writers with inscriptions to her, audiotapes of readings and interviews.
Folders containing Rich's unpublished writing may not be copied without permission of the Adrienne Rich literary trust; these folders are explicitly marked as such in the inventory. When sending material to the Schlesinger, Rich noted which files were to be open to research and which were to be closed, either until 2020 or 2050. In March 2011, Rich reviewed the papers and opened some previously closed items, while lengthening the closure on others. She expressly wished to protect the privacy of those writing to her. Some teaching files in Series IV contained student grades or records; Schlesinger staff separated and closed those materials upon receipt.
Folder headings appearing in quotation marks are Rich's; others were created by archivists. The collection was initially processed in 1999 and contained material Rich sent to the Schlesinger between 1984 and 1999. It was known by call number "84-M141--99-M136." In 2021, the collection was reboxed and the call number updated to MC 1120. Folder numbers remain the same. Additional description was also added to the finding aid at this time.
In 1979, Rich donated some papers to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York, New York. They contain galley proofs for books that are not in this collection, including Snapshots, Nightwatch, Necessities of Life, Leaflets, etc.; research notebooks for Of Woman Born; etc. (see folder #1 for complete list).
There is some overlap among the various series. Transcriptions by Rich of passages she read will be found both in the commonplace books (#50v-53) as well as the notebooks (#63-68). Material concerning her time at Oxford will be found both in the notebooks as well as in a folder of essays (#69). Material about awards and honorary degrees is filed in Series I, although related material can be found in general correspondence in Series II (#129-135). While correspondence can be found throughout the collection, most is grouped in Series II. There are few photographs in the collection and those that exist are scattered throughout.
Series I, Biographical and personal (#1-88), is organized into the following main groups: Interviews, Childhood writings; Diaries; Commonplace books (or "reading notebooks" as Rich called them); Radcliffe papers; Notebooks; Account books; and Awards. Interviews consist of published and unpublished articles, pamphlets, and an audiotape; childhood writings is a loose term that covers a wide assortment of Rich's early works and includes drawings, poems, plays, music composition books, etc. Rich kept two different types of diaries; the pre-printed diaries that usually cover one calendar year and a journal-entry style. The two types often overlap. Radcliffe papers are primarily typescript syllabi, some with Rich's handwritten annotations, and notes. Notebooks are re: readings, travel expenditures, names and addresses, notes, some diary entries, etc. Awards encompasses awards, honorary degrees, certificates, etc.
Series II, Correspondence (#89-171), is divided loosely into the following sections: Family, filed chronologically; Letters to Sumner Powell, a former fiancé; Alphabetical, mainly with friends and other writers; Publishers, which is arranged chronologically, Magazines; Women's publications; and Response mail, which contains letters from fans about Rich's writing.
Series III, Published writings (#172-351v), is divided into three major sections: Published works by Rich, Critical works re: Rich's poetry, and Poetry by others. Published works consists mainly of pamphlets, small press volumes and periodicals containing Rich's poetry and prose. The latter are filed alphabetically by name of periodical. Pamphlets or volumes containing Rich's prose are filed chronologically. This first section also contains a small group of foreign volumes containing (or about) Rich's work.
The largest section under published works are the folders of Norton's "dead matter" (#222-276, commonly referred to as foul matter). A fairly complete set of publishing states for two of Rich's books has been retained; see Atlas, #251-255, and What is Found There, #267-276 (neither of these sets contain "paste-ups" or "blues"). States of "blues" or "paste-ups," which generally contain no manuscript alterations or only minor copyediting marks, have been discarded. Samples of "paste-ups" exist for Fact of a Doorframe (see #225); of "blues" for Fact of a Doorframe (#229), Your Native Land (#246), and Time's Power (#249). Also discarded were photocopies of various states with no manuscript or copyediting alterations. Pages of later states, such as "master sets," with no manuscript alterations, or very minor copyediting marks only were also discarded. In these instances, pages with manuscript revisions were kept and a note placed in the appropriate folder stating that some pages were discarded. What Norton refers to as "master sets" are prints or copies made from the "paste-ups."
Folders with critical works re: Rich's poetry contain periodicals, pamphlets, two unpublished theses, articles and reviews. The last section, Poetry by others, consists mostly of small press volumes, periodicals of poetry and prose, most of which are inscribed by the author to Rich.
Series IV, Readings, speeches, workshops, teaching (#352-425), is divided into three sections: Speeches and lectures, containing typescript drafts of speeches; Readings, containing audiotapes, a phonograph record, scrapbook, pamphlets, itineraries, and a series of flyers and posters; Teaching and workshops arranged chronologically by school, containing lecture notes, reading assignments, course descriptions, and readers. Student biographies, correspondence and grades are closed until 2050.
Series V, Subject files (#426-450), contains Rich's files on topics she was interested in, most related to political activism in some way. Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject, primarily using Rich's headings, and contain clippings, flyers, mailings, and correspondence.
Adrienne Cecile Rich, poet, author, feminist, and teacher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 16, 1929, the daughter of Helen (Jones) and Arnold Rice Rich. She attended the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, Maryland (1938-1947). A 1951 graduate of Radcliffe College, in that year she won the Yale Younger Poets Award with the publication of her first book, A Change of World. Following her studies at Oxford University (winter 1952-1953), she traveled through Europe. The following decade saw her marriage to Harvard economist Alfred Haskell Conrad (June 26, 1953), the birth of three sons, David (born 1955), Paul (born 1957), and Jacob (born 1959), and the appearance of a second book of verse, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (Harper & Row, 1955). In 1966, the Conrad family moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to New York, New York.
Rich's published volumes of poetry during her lifetime include... was the author of eleven books of poetry including Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (Harper & Row, 1963), Necessities of Life (Norton, 1966), Leaflets (Norton, 1969), The Will to Change (Norton, 1971), Diving into the Wreck (Norton, 1973), Poems: Selected and New, 1950-1974 (Norton, 1975), A Wild Patience Has Taken Me Thus Far (1981), The Fact of a Doorframe (Norton, 1984), Dark Fields of the Republic (Norton, 1995), Midnight Salvage: poems, 1995-1998 (Norton, 1999), and four books of prose, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976), and On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978. Diving into the Wreck won the National Book Award in 1974. Protesting the lack of women recipients, Rich rejected the award as an individual and accepted it in conjunction with the other nominees, Audre Lorde and Alice Walker, in the name of all women. Her writings have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Japanese. She was also the editor, with Michelle Cliff, of Sinister Wisdom (1981-1983).
Rich taught writing and women's studies at Swarthmore College (visiting poet, 1966-1968), Columbia University (1967-1969), the City College of New York (lecturing in the Seek Education, Elevation and Knowledge [SEEK] English Program, 1968-1972, 1974-1975), Brandeis University (Fannie Hurst Visiting Professor of Creative Literature, 1972-1973), Douglass College, Rutgers University (1975-1979), Cornell University (1981-1987), Scripps College (1983-1984), San Jose State (1984-1985), Stanford University (1986-1993), and University of Chicago (1989). She lectured extensively on feminism and poetry at conferences and universities in the United States, Japan, France, and Great Britain.
The recipient of Guggenheim fellowships (1952, 1953 and again 1961-1962), Rich also received a Bollingen Foundation grant for translation of Dutch poetry (1962), the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship (1963), a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1961), an NEA grant (1970), an Alumnae Recognition Award at Radcliffe's centennial (1979), and numerous other awards for poetry. In 1997, she turned down the National Medal for the Arts. Adrienne Rich died March 27, 2012, in Santa Cruz, California.
For more complete accounts of her life, see Contemporary Authors (first revision, volumes 9-12, 1974), World Authors: 1950-1970 (1975), Alone with America (196-) by Richard Howard, Five Temperments (1977) by David Kalstone, An American Triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich (1984) by Wendy Martin, Writing Beyond the Ending (1985) by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Aesthetics of Power: The Poetry of Adrienne Rich (1986) by Claire Keyes, and Who's Who of American Women (1999). For a more complete list, see Biographical and Genealogical Master Index.
The collection is arranged in five series:
- Series I. Biographical and personal (#1-88)
- Series II. Correspondence (#89-171)
- Series III. Published writings (#172-351v)
- Series IV. Readings, speeches, teaching, workshops (#352-425)
- Series V. Subject files (#426-450)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession numbers: 84-M141, 85-M99, 86-M77, 86-M229, 89-M68, 90-M44, 91-M174, 92-M184, 93-M8, 93-M160, 94-M12, 94-M182, 99-M61, 99-M73, 99-M136
The papers of Adrienne Rich were given to the Schlesinger Library by Adrienne Rich in August 1984, between April 1990 and October 1992, in December 1994, and August 1999. Dead matter for Rich's books was given to the library by her publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, between May 1985 and April 1989 and between January 1993 and December 1994. Listening copies of audiotapes were made at the Media Production Center, Harvard University in April and May 1999. Audiovisual material and closed portions of accession #99-M136 are not included in this finding aid.
Donors: Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton Publishing Co.
Accession numbers: 84-M141--99-M73
Processed by: Glynn Edwards
The following items have been removed from the collection:
- Robert Lowell. Notebook of a Year, 1967-1968 (galley). Transferred to Houghton Library, November 1984
- Fantasy Poets, number 12, "Adrienne Cecile Rich" [2 copies] . Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Departure Pamphlets I, "Six Women Poets." Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Women's Studies "Renaissance or Revolution" [2 copies]. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Uses of Literature. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Reconstituting the World: The Poetry and Vision of Adrienne Rich. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- When We Dead Awaken: Writing as Re-Vision. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- The Hollins Critic (11:4, October 1974). Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Ohio Review (13:1) [3 copies]. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Poems by Ghalib. Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- The Island (Number 3, May 1966). Transferred to Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, November 1984
- Women Writing. Newfield, New York: self-published. To Schlesinger Library periodicals, May 1999
- Good Housekeeping Centennial, 1885-1985. Duplicate, to Schlesinger Library book sale, May 1999
- Mary Jane Vanderbosch. The Education of Adrienne Rich: From Re-Vision to Revelation (thesis, University of Iowa, 1980). Available through UMI; to Schlesinger Library book sale, May 1999
- Box 1: 1-7, 9-13
- Box 2: 14-25
- Box 3: 26-37
- Box 4: 38-45
- Box 5: 46-53
- Box 6: 54-66
- Box 7: 67-75, 77-79, 81
- Box 8: 82-91
- Box 9: 92-105
- Box 10: 106-118
- Box 11: 119-128
- Box 12: 129-141
- Box 13: 142-152
- Box 14: 153-164
- Box 15: 165-172
- Box 16: 173-192
- Box 17: 193-211
- Box 18: 212-225
- Box 19: 228-234
- Box 20: 235-246
- Box 21: 247-249, 251-258
- Box 22: 259-268
- Box 23: 269-275
- Box 24: 276-291
- Box 25: 292-304
- Box 26: 305-318
- Box 27: 319-337
- Box 28: 338-353
- Box 29: 354-356, 359-361, 363-366, 369-372
- Box 30: 374, 377, 379-390
- Box 31: 391-401
- Box 32: 402-413
- Box 33: 414-424
- Box 34: 425-434
- Box 35: 435-444
- Box 36: 445-449
Processed: October 1999
By: Glynn Edwards
Updated: July 2021
By: Jenny Gotwals
- American literature--20th century
- American literature--Women authors
- Authors and publishers
- College teachers
- Commonplace books
- Family violence
- Female offenders--United States
- Feminism--International cooperation
- Feminist economics
- Feminist literature
- Feminist literature--Book reviews
- Feminist poetry
- Feminist poetry--Book reviews
- Feminist theory
- Galley proofs
- Homosexuality and literature
- Jewish women--United States
- Jews--United States--Periodicals
- Lecture notes
- Lesbianism--Literary collections
- Lesbians' writings--Book reviews
- Lesbians' writings--Periodicals
- Lesbians--United States
- Motion pictures and women
- Peace movements
- Poets, American
- Publishers and publishing--United States
- Racism--United States
- Richards, I. A. (Ivor Armstrong), 1893-1979
- Sex discrimination against women
- United States--Race relations
- Violence--United States
- Voyages and travels
- Wife abuse
- Women poets
- Women political activists--United States
- Women prisoners--United States
- Women's periodicals, American
- Women's rights
- Women's studies--United States
- Women--Central America
- Women--Crimes against
- Women--International cooperation
- Women--United States--Economic conditions
- Rich, Adrienne, 1929-2012. Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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