Audiotapes and papers of Anne Sexton, 1956-1988
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Written permission of Linda Gray Sexton is required during her lifetime.
.83 linear feet ((2 file boxes) plus 95 audiotapes, 261 CDs)
The audiotapes contain Anne Sexton's therapy sessions (January 1961 to April 1964) with Dr. Martin T. Orne. For most of this period, Sexton attended therapy three times a week. During therapy, Sexton would often have memory lapses, disassociate or go into trance. Orne suggested taping Sexton's therapy sessions in the hopes that listening to them later would allow Sexton the opportunity to study and analyze her own responses. Her "homework" was to listen and take notes on her recorded sessions. Many of the recordings begin with Sexton discussing her thoughts on the last session. While the tapes give a wealth of insight into the troubled mind of a renowned poet, they are also valuable in terms of the process and methods of psychotherapy. The audiotapes greatly informed Middlebrook's biography of Sexton. The appendix to the biography includes an excerpt from one session, and the notes include numerous citations from the recorded sessions.
Audiotapes remain in original order as listed by the donors. Many dates from the original list were corrected to match the date provided on the recording itself. A few listed sessions did not exist on the tapes, and a few sessions were not Anne Sexton; those tapes have been deaccessioned from the collection (reels 51, 65, 67, 71, 74 and 77). Although multiple sessions were included on the original reel-to-reels, each session was transferred to a single CD. The reel numbers on the CDs refer to the original reel-to-reels. Early sessions have poor sound recording, often with radio in background or re-used tape. Track markers have been added every 60 seconds on the CDs. Descriptions of sessions are merely notes taken by the processor and are by no means comprehensive. They are included to provide some content information where noted but certainly do not represent the entire breadth of topics discussed on these tapes. There is related material at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas, Austin.
- Series I. Diane Middlebrook binder, Dr. Orne files, 1956-1988 (#1.1-2.18)
- Series II. Therapy tapes, 1961-1964 (CD-3, reels 1-101)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The audiotapes of Anne Sexton were given to the Schlesinger Library in December 2002 by the daughters of Anne Sexton, Joyce Sexton and Linda Gray Sexton. CD copies of the original reel-to-reel audiotapes were made in 2003.
By: Joanne Donovan
- Sexton, Anne, 1928-1974. Audiotapes and papers of Anne Sexton, 1956-1988 (inclusive): A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Processing of this collection was made possible with funding from the Radcliffe Club of San Francisco.
- EAD ID
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