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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 861: T-523: Vt-293: Phon-70

Papers of Pat Parker, 1944-1998


The papers of poet Pat Parker include journals; personal and professional correspondence; drafts; published and unpublished writings; reviews; articles; photographs; flyers, programs; publicity; periodicals; audiovisual material; and electronic records.


  • Creation: 1944-1998

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material. For access to electronic records please contact the reference desk.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Pat Parker is held by Anastasia J. Dunham-Parker-Brady. Upon her death, she transfers copyright to Akiva James Brady and Arianna Rose Brady. Upon the death of Akiva James Brady and Arianna Rose Brady, if it has not already expired, copyright in the unpublished papers in the collection transfers and is assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College along with all right, title and interest, including copyright and all extensions and renewals thereof. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the author's heirs or assigns.

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)

The collection documents like of Pat Parker, an African American feminist lesbian poet. The collection contains biographical and personal materials, such as clippings and passports; as well as correspondence; writings, including both published and unpublished work by Parker; subject files; and photographs. Audiovisual material consisting of poetry readings, live performances, and interviews. Electronic records were received on 5.25 inch floppy disks. The data was retrieved and saved as text files and converted into pdfs. The electronic records include drafts of letters and writings, and a photograph. The papers were in order when received and have been arranged further by the archivist.

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. The subseries is arranged chronologically.


African American feminist lesbian poet Pat (Cooks) Parker was born on January 20, 1944. Parker grew up in Houston, Texas, the fourth daughter of Marie Louise (Anderson) and Ernest Nathaniel Cooks. Moving to California at age 17, she studied at Los Angeles City College. In 1962 she married Ed Bullins, a playwright and member of the Black Panthers. In the Bay area, she studied at San Francisco State College. Bullins and Parker ended their relationship and she then married Robert F. Parker. In the late 1960s, Parker began to identify as a lesbian and divorced Robert Parker. She had committed relationships with Laura Brown and Martha Dunham. She had two children, Cassidy, with Laura Brown and Anastasia with Martha Dunham.

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.


The collection is arranged in six series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1944-1989 (#1.1-1.17, FD.1, Mem.1-Mem.3)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1964-1989 (#1.18-8.5, E.1)
  3. Series III. Writings, 1965-1988 (#8.6-13.14, 18F+B.1-18F+B.6, E.2)
  4. Series IV. Subject files, 1974-1989 (#13.15-17.22)
  5. Series V. Photographs, 1978-1989 (#PD.1-PD.13, E.3)
  6. 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

Accession number: 2016-M5

The papers of Pat Parker were acquired by the Schlesinger Library from Anastasia J. Dunham-Parker-Brady in January 2016.


Donors: Anastasia J. Dunham-Parker-Brady

Accession number: 2016-M5

Processed by: Amber L. Moore

The following items have been transferred to the Schlesinger Library books and printed materials collection:

  1. A Lesbian Photo Album: The Lives of Seven Lesbian Feminists
  2. Aché
  3. Aldebarn Review
  4. Alice Reports
  5. Anarchist Feminist Magazine
  6. Anthology of The First Annual Women's Poetry Festival of San Francisco
  7. AU Courant
  8. Azalea: A Magazine by and for 3rd world lesbians
  9. BACU
  10. Bay Area Reporter
  11. Bay Area Women's News
  12. Bay Area Writer
  13. Bay Area Writers: Focis on Women Readings
  14. Belle Lettres
  15. Black Dialogue
  16. Black Lesbian Newsletter
  17. Black Women: Achievements Against the Odds
  18. BLK
  19. Borders in Black
  20. Brown on Brown: Black Lesbian Erotica
  21. Centering
  22. Child of Myself
  23. Citadel
  24. Columbus Free Press
  25. Coming Up!
  26. Counterattack
  27. Croix These Tears
  28. Deal With It!
  29. Decade Update
  30. Diana Press
  31. Dust
  32. Edward the Dyke and Other Poems
  33. Elephant Poem Coloring Book
  34. eleven
  35. Feminist Poetics
  36. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!
  37. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow is ENUF
  38. Foresight
  39. Forty Acres and a Mule
  40. Gay Community News
  41. High Blood Pressure
  42. Homosexuals: A Cincinnati Report
  43. Homosexueil Frigőrelise
  44. Hot Wire: The Journal of Women's Music & Culture
  45. How Do You Do
  46. I Am Your Sister: Black Women Organizing Across Sexualities
  47. ILIS Bulletin
  48. In the Memory and Spirit of Frances, Zora, and Lorraine: Essays and Interviews on Black Women and Writing
  49. Inside/Outside
  50. Jemima
  51. Journal of Black Poetry
  52. Kangas 101 Uses
  53. Lesbian Connection
  54. Loveletter
  55. Mama Bears News & Notes
  56. Meditations on the Rainbow
  57. Morena
  58. Moving On
  59. Nappy Edges
  60. Negro Digest
  61. New Directions for Women
  62. No More Cages
  63. Off Our Backs
  64. Oh Yeah!
  65. Out of Sight
  66. Plexus
  67. Redstart Seven Plus
  68. Reflections of my Mind
  69. Revolutionary Worker
  70. San Diego Gayzette
  71. San Francisco Bay Times
  72. San Francisco Sentinel
  73. San Francisco Women's Centers Newsletter
  74. Save Joann Little
  75. Showcase
  76. sister lode
  77. Sisters: a Magazine by and for Gay Women
  78. Sojourner: The Women's Forum
  79. SoulBook
  80. Spring Bouquet
  81. The Black Panther: Intercommunal News Service
  82. The Budget and You
  83. The Common Woman
  84. The Community Writers' Project Inc.
  85. The Feminist Writers Guild
  86. The Gay Question and Women's Oppression
  87. The Insurgent
  88. The Kenya Times
  89. The Lesbian Unraveler
  90. The London Standard
  91. The National Alliance
  92. The NittyGritty
  93. The Plexus
  94. The Sunday Times
  95. The Tribune
  96. The Women's Movement: Forum on the Future
  97. This is the Time
  98. Union W.A.G.E.
  99. United Nations Decade for Women
  100. Wages for Housework International Campaign Journal
  101. We Be Wimmin Colorful
  102. What Black Americans Should Know About Cancer
  103. What Don't Kill Is Fattening
  104. Windy City Times
  105. Women
  106. Women & Struggle in Iran
  107. Women in developing agriculture
  108. Women in food production and food security in Africa
  109. Women's Journal-Advocate
  110. Women's Rights
  111. Yemonja

Processing Information

Processed: June 2016

By: Amber L. Moore, with assistance from Dan Bullman, Alexis Bucher, and Rose Oliveira.

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
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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