Papers of Pat Parker, 1944-1998
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
8.46 linear feet ((17 file boxes, 1 folio+ box) plus 1 folio folder, 1 folio volume, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 12 photograph folders, 14 audiotapes, 6 videotapes, 1 phonograph record)
.74 Megabytes (41 files)
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1944-1989 (#1.1-1.17, FD.1, Mem.1-Mem.3), contains biographical information about Parker, material related to her divorces from playwright Ed Bullins (1965) and poet Bob Parker (1971), her passports, and obituaries and articles about her death in 1989. Also included is a handmade poster of Zora Neale Hurston which asks "Ms. Parker, Would Zora be proud of your work today?" which hung in her studio. Of particular interest is Parker's five year vision proposal for future readings/speaking engagements, marketing, writing workshops, studio space, financial planning, and personal writing goals. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1964-1989 (#1.18-8.5, E.1), consists mostly of incoming personal letters from family, fans, and friends discussing feminism, race relations, poetry, and romantic relationships. Correspondence was originally arranged by Parker alphabetically by correspondent.
Family correspondence includes love letters and daily notes from Parker's partner, Marty Dunham; letters from Parker's mother, Marie Cooks (#2.20-2.22) discussing updates on family; and letters from her sister, Shirley Cooks Jones (#4.21) about race relations, marriage, relationships, and travel. Jones is the subject of Parker's book Womanslaughter, which discusses Jones' murder by her husband in 1971.
Fans of Parker's work often sent letters with samples of their own writings for review and comment; and correspondence with friends (mostly poets and writers) includes letters about Parker's writings, invitations, and inquires about Parker's health. Of particular note are letters between Parker and Audre Lorde discussing their work and lives as African American lesbian feminists, race relations, relationships, cancer and chemotherapy; letters and poetry from Native American poet Chrystos (#2.16) discussing her and Parker's romantic relationship; and letters from Judy Grahn (#4.14) about feminism, writing, and updates on her life.
Work-related correspondence includes letters about poetry reading tours, book signings, publishing, and other literary activities. The series is arranged in alphabetical order by correspondent as per Parker's original arrangement. General alphabetical folders follow named correspondents.
Series III, WRITINGS, 1965-1988 (#8.6-13.14, 18F+B.1-18F+B.6, E.2), contains both published and unpublished works by Parker, including early poems, journals, short stories, plays, and other writings. The major themes reflected in Parker's writings are activism, feminism, friendship, injustice, lesbianism, love, homophobia, parenting, and racism. The bulk of the series consists of handwritten drafts and photocopies of poems written by Parker, some with multiple revisions, notes and edits. Of particular interest are journals with handwritten drafts of poetry written by Parker. Poetry was originally arranged by Parker individually by title.
Scrapbooks including clippings, flyers, and posters which were assembled by Parker to document her readings and other literary events. Promotional material also includes printed mementos from her readings. Miscellaneous writings include notes, ideas on original drafts of "works in progress" as identified by Parker. Of particular interest are drawings, notes and poems written during Parker's "acid trips" on LSD. This series is arranged alphabetically. Where possible, Parker's original folder titles were retained. The archivist's folder titles are identified in brackets.
Series IV, SUBJECT FILES, 1974-1989 (#13.15-17.22), contains correspondence and printed material on various topics including Bay Area writers, black lesbianism, cancer, conferences, softball, and administrative material related to poetry reading requests accepted and declined by Parker. Of particular interest are press releases and sign-up sheets related to Parker's involvement with the Black Women's Revolutionary Council, a group of revolutionary feminists aimed to educate people about the effects of racism, classism, and sexism; and uncorrected galleys of Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals sent for Parker's review. Also included are letters, research, programs and flyers, from Parker's trip to Nairobi, Kenya in 1985. The series is arranged alphabetically
Series V, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1978-1989 (#PD.1-PD.13, E.3), contains photographs of Pat Parker, as well as images of her family and friends. Of particular interest are photographs of Parker with poets Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich. Also included are photograph albums of Parker's trip to Nairobi, Kenya in 1985, as well as publicity shots and images of Parker performing with the Varied Voices of Black Women in Washington, D.C. The series is arranged chronologically. Undated photographs are arranged alphabetically by title
Series VI, AUDIOVISUAL MATERIAL, 1976-1998 (#Phon-070.1, T-523.1-T-523.14, Vt-293.1-Vt-293.6), contains audio cassettes, videotapes, and a phonograph of poetry readings, live performances, interviews, and informal recordings that document Pat Parker's personal and professional life. Titles are largely those written on the original tape. This series is arranged into three subseries:
Subseries A, Personal, 1979-1998 (#T-523.1-T-523.5, Vt-293.1-Vt-293.4), contains audiocassettes and video recordings that document Parker's personal life and capture some of her everyday life and interests. This includes recordings of her softball games, Spanish lessons, recordings of family on answering machines and an astrology reading. Also included are relaxation tapes made to prepare her for surgery and memorials and tributes to her after her death. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Poetry and interviews by or with Parker, 1976-1988 (#Phon-070.1, T-523.6-T-523.8, Vt-293.5-Vt-293.6), contains audio cassettes, video tapes, and phonograph recordings of Parker's poetry readings as well as interviews conducted by or with Parker. The subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries C, Other recordings, 1981-1986 (#T-523.9-T-523.14), contains audiocassette recordings primarily made by other people for Parker. This includes audio letters to Parker and performances by other artists which Parker collected. Also included are dictations for the Feminist Health Center.
Arranged chronologically within each subseries.
Parker held a number of jobs in Oakland, California, including proofreading, waiting tables, teaching creative writing, and office work. Parker gave her first public poetry reading in 1963. Her first book of poetry, Child of Myself, appeared in 1972 followed by Pit Stop in 1973. In 1976 Parker and lesbian poet Judy Grahn released a phonograph album, Where Would I Be Without You. In 1978 Parker became director of Oakland's Feminist Women's Health Center and in 1980 she founded the Black Women's Revolutionary Council, a group of revolutionary feminists intended to educate people about the effects of racism, classism, and sexism. Other works included Womanslaughter (1978), Movement in Black: The Collected Poetry of Pat Parker, 1961-1978 (1978), and Jonestown and Other Madness (1985). Parker died on June 17, 1989, of breast cancer in Oakland, California.
- Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1944-1989 (#1.1-1.17, FD.1, Mem.1-Mem.3)
- Series II. Correspondence, 1964-1989 (#1.18-8.5, E.1)
- Series III. Writings, 1965-1988 (#8.6-13.14, 18F+B.1-18F+B.6, E.2)
- Series IV. Subject files, 1974-1989 (#13.15-17.22)
- Series V. Photographs, 1978-1989 (#PD.1-PD.13, E.3)
- Series VI. Audiovisual material, 1981-1998 (Phon-70.1, T-523.1-T-523.14, Vt-293.1-Vt-293.6)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of Pat Parker were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Anastasia J. Dunham-Parker-Brady in January 2016.
Accession number: 2016-M5
Processed by: Amber L. Moore
The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:
- A Lesbian Photo Album: The Lives of Seven Lesbian Feminists
- Aldebarn Review
- Alice Reports
- Anarchist Feminist Magazine
- Anthology of The First Annual Women's Poetry Festival of San Francisco
- AU Courant
- Azalea: A Magazine by and for 3rd world lesbians
- Bay Area Reporter
- Bay Area Women's News
- Bay Area Writer
- Bay Area Writers: Focis on Women Readings
- Belle Lettres
- Black Dialogue
- Black Lesbian Newsletter
- Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds
- Borders in Black
- Brown on Brown: Black Lesbian Erotica
- Child of Myself
- Columbus Free Press
- Coming Up!
- Croix These Tears
- Deal With It!
- Decade Update
- Diana Press
- Edward the Dyke and Other Poems
- Elephant Poem Coloring Book
- Feminist Poetics
- Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
- For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is ENUF
- Forty Acres and a Mule
- Gay Community News
- High Blood Pressure
- Homosexuals: A Cincinnati Report
- Homosexueil Frigőrelise
- Hot Wire: The Journal of Women's Music & Culture
- How Do You Do
- I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities
- ILIS Bulletin
- In the Memory and Spirit of Frances, Zora, and Lorraine: Essays and Interviews on Black Women and Writing
- Journal of Black Poetry
- Kangas 101 Uses
- Lesbian Connection
- Mama Bears News & Notes
- Meditations on the Rainbow
- Moving On
- Nappy Edges
- Negro Digest
- New Directions for Women
- No More Cages
- Off Our Backs
- Oh Yeah!
- Out of Sight
- Redstart Seven Plus
- Reflections of my Mind
- Revolutionary Worker
- San Diego Gayzette
- San Francisco Bay Times
- San Francisco Sentinel
- San Francisco Women's Centers Newsletter
- Save Joann Little
- sister lode
- Sisters: a Magazine by and for Gay Women
- Sojourner: The Women's Forum
- Spring Bouquet
- The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service
- The Budget and You
- The Common Woman
- The Community Writers' Project Inc.
- The Feminist Writers Guild
- The Gay Question and Women's Oppression
- The Insurgent
- The Kenya Times
- The Lesbian Unraveler
- The London Standard
- The National Alliance
- The NittyGritty
- The Plexus
- The Sunday Times
- The Tribune
- The Women's Movement: Forum on the Future
- This is the Time
- Union W.A.G.E.
- United Nations Decade for Women
- Wages for Housework International Campaign Journal
- We Be Wimmin Colorful
- What Black Americans Should Know About Cancer
- What Don't Kill Is Fattening
- Windy City Times
- Women & Struggle in Iran
- Women in developing agriculture
- Women in food production and food security in Africa
- Women's Journal-Advocate
- Women's Rights
By: Amber L. Moore, with assistance from Dan Bullman, Alexis Bucher, and Rose Oliveira.
- African American poets--20th century
- African American women
- Authors, American--20th century
- Electronic records
- Feminist poetry, American
- Feminists--United States
- Homosexuality and literature--United States
- Lesbian mothers--California
- Lesbians' writings, American
- Lesbians--United States
- Love poetry, American
- Mothers and daughters
- Phonograph records
- Poets, American--Family relationships--20th century
- Poets--United States
- Women authors, American--20th century
- Women poets, American--20th century
- Women political activists--United States
- Parker, Pat, 1944-1989. Papers of Pat Parker, 1944-1998. A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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