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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 1120

Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999


Papers of Adrienne Cecile Rich, poet, author, feminist, and teacher.


  • Creation: 1927-1999


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 Copyright in these unpublished papers is held by the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust.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trust, all right, title, and interest, including copyright and all extension and renewals thereof, in and to her unpublished papers in the collection will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute.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 Unpublished material written by Adrienne Rich may only be scanned or imaged with the written permission of the Adrienne Rich Literary Trust. Published material may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


15 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 was the author of over twenty 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 seven books of prose, including 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, and The Aesthetics of Power: The Poetry of Adrienne Rich (1986) by Claire Keyes.


The collection is arranged in five series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and personal (#1-88)
  2. Series II. Correspondence (#89-171)
  3. Series III. Published writings (#172-351v)
  4. Series IV. Readings, speeches, teaching, workshops (#352-425)
  5. 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.

Related Material:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Papers of Cynthia Rich, 1961-1968 (83-M240), Papers of Cynthia Rich and Barbara MacDonald, 1893-2004 (MC 505), Cynthia Rich and Barbara Macdonald Audiotape collection, 1973-1990 (T-338), and Helen Jones Rich Papers, ca.1888-2000 (MC 803).


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:

  1. RobertLowell.Notebook of aYear,1967-1968(galley). Transferred toHoughtonLibrary,November1984
  2. FantasyPoets,number 12,"AdrienneCecileRich"[2copies] . Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  3. DeparturePamphlets I,"SixWomenPoets." Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  4. Women'sStudies "RenaissanceorRevolution" [2copies]. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  5. UsesofLiterature. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  6. ReconstitutingtheWorld:ThePoetryandVisionofAdrienne Rich. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  7. WhenWeDeadAwaken:WritingasRe-Vision. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  8. TheHollinsCritic (11:4,October 1974). Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  9. OhioReview (13:1)[3copies]. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  10. PoemsbyGhalib. Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  11. TheIsland (Number 3,May1966). Transferred toWoodberryPoetryRoom,LamontLibrary,November1984
  12. WomenWriting.Newfield, New York:self-published. ToSchlesingerLibraryperiodicals,May1999
  13. GoodHousekeepingCentennial,1885-1985. Duplicate, toSchlesingerLibrarybooksale,May1999
  14. MaryJaneVanderbosch. TheEducation ofAdrienneRich:FromRe-Vision toRevelation (thesis,UniversityofIowa,1980). AvailablethroughUMI;toSchlesingerLibrarybooksale,May1999


  1. Box 1: 1-7, 9-13
  2. Box 2: 14-25
  3. Box 3: 26-37
  4. Box 4: 38-45
  5. Box 5: 46-53
  6. Box 6: 54-66
  7. Box 7: 67-75, 77-79, 81
  8. Box 8: 82-91
  9. Box 9: 92-105
  10. Box 10: 106-118
  11. Box 11: 119-128
  12. Box 12: 129-141
  13. Box 13: 142-152
  14. Box 14: 153-164
  15. Box 15: 165-172
  16. Box 16: 173-192
  17. Box 17: 193-211
  18. Box 18: 212-225
  19. Box 19: 228-234
  20. Box 20: 235-246
  21. Box 21: 247-249, 251-258
  22. Box 22: 259-268
  23. Box 23: 269-275
  24. Box 24: 276-291
  25. Box 25: 292-304
  26. Box 26: 305-318
  27. Box 27: 319-337
  28. Box 28: 338-353
  29. Box 29: 354-356, 359-361, 363-366, 369-372
  30. Box 30: 374, 377, 379-390
  31. Box 31: 391-401
  32. Box 32: 402-413
  33. Box 33: 414-424
  34. Box 34: 425-434
  35. Box 35: 435-444
  36. Box 36: 445-449

Processing Information

Processed: October 1999

By: Glynn Edwards

Updated: July 2021

By: Jenny Gotwals

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

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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