Papers of June Jordan, 1936-2002 (inclusive), 1954-2002 (bulk)
- Majority of material found within 1954-2002
Language of Materials
Some individual correspondence in Series IV was previously closed; in 2018 these files were reviewed by Library archivists and are now open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified. Permission to photocopy some restricted material must be sought in writing from the Jordan Literary Trust until its termination and after its termination from Jordan's heir separately from permission for access and permission to quote. No material may be copied for deposit in other libraries. No material may be reproduced on the internet.
49.63 linear feet ((109 file boxes) plus 2 folio folders, 7 folio+ folders, 4 oversize folders, 2 supersize folders, 120 photograph folders, 1 folio photograph folder, 1 folio+ photograph folder, and electronic records)
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL, 1967-2002 (#1.1-3.7, 109.16, E.1), includes curricula vitae, general clippings about Jordan and her work, as well as typescripts of interviews. This series is arranged in five subseries.
Subseries A. General biographical, ca.1969-1993, n.d. (scattered) (#1.1-1.4, 109.16, E.1), contains curricula vitae, chronologies, and bibliographies. Jordan's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site will be available through this finding aid in 2010.
Subseries B, Interviews, 1972-2001 (#1.5-1.13), contains transcripts and/or clippings of interviews that others conducted with Jordan.
Subseries C, Honors and awards, 1985-2002 (#1.14-2.6), contains printed materials ranging from honorary degrees to certificates of appreciation from various literary and activist organizations. This subseries follows Jordan's arrangement: general awards are grouped chronologically in two folders that appear first in the series, and awards for which Jordan retained separate folders are arranged alphabetically by title afterwards. Considerable overlap, but little duplication, may exist between materials in this subseries and Series XV (Professional Work, General). Folders titled "Affirmative Acts" refer to a tribute to Jordan co-coordinated by La Peña Cultural Center, in part to celebrate the release of Affirmative Acts, Jordan's twenty-fifth book (for information about the book itself, see Series V, Subseries A).
Subseries D, Writings and works about, 1977-2002 (#2.7-2.13), contains papers (published and unpublished), in-depth articles, published biographical entries, and critical commentaries about Jordan and/or her work. It does not contain general clippings about her or reviews; see Subseries E (General clippings) for shorter commentaries. The first folders of this subseries are arranged chronologically; subsequent folders are arranged alphabetically, by title of work.
Subseries E, General clippings, 1967-2002 (#2.14-3.7), contains clippings from newspapers and magazines with general information about Jordan's activities, protest involvement, speeches/addresses, poetry readings, or provide an overview of more than one of her works. Critical reviews specific to a particular title are arranged with the subseries pertaining to that work, though some overlap may exist when two of Jordan's works were reviewed together. This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series II, PERSONAL, 1936-2002 (scattered) (#3.8-11.2), contains childhood records; desktop calendars; to-do lists; medical, financial and legal records; and files relating to residences and pets. It documents major life changes and events, including marriage, battles with cancer, legal correspondence, and decisions about her professional literary estate, as well as more minor events in her personal life, including traffic accidents, parking violations, and applications for various programs. Additional correspondence with her attorneys is found in Series XV (Professional Work, General). This series is divided into six subseries.
Subseries A, Early childhood and adult education, 1936-1988 (#3.8-3.13), contains documentation of Jordan's childhood and provides a rare glimpse into her early family life, with a unique baby book that her mother began the day of her birth. It also contains elementary school records and report cards, as well as applications to graduate school and grant applications. Although Jordan's name appears as "Millicent June" on early records and legal documents, her family addressed her from birth as "June Millicent."
Subseries B, Residences, 1974-2002 (#3.14-4.4), contains files pertaining to Jordan's adult residences, both temporary and permanent. Folders may include correspondence with landlords, leases/mortgages, and receipts. These materials were separated into distinct folders by Jordan and found within her "personal" files; the folder headings in quotes were created by Jordan and reflect the address at which she lived.
Subseries C, Health and miscellaneous general records, 1940-2002 (scattered), 1973-2002 (bulk) (#4.5-4.16), contains materials that document Jordan's physical and mental health from 1940 until her death in 2002. The majority of the papers pertain to her hip replacement and struggles with breast cancer. They include bills and insurance information, diagnoses and reports from physicians and radiologists, Jordan's notes, questions about her diagnoses, and contact lists of friends upon whom she relied for care and support in battling cancer. The first six folders pertain to Jordan's health and well-being; they are arranged chronologically. The remaining seven folders contain general personal forms, notes, etc., and are also arranged chronologically.
Subseries D, Pets, 1984-2002 (#4.17-4.20), contains materials (including instructions for care, veterinarian records, etc.) pertaining to the three dogs who assumed great significance in Jordan's adult life. Folder headings were created by Jordan and represent the names of her pets. Additional discussion of her dogs, especially Buck and Amigo, runs throughout Series IV (Personal Correspondence).
Subseries E, Personal notes, calendars, address books, notebooks, etc., 1969-2000 (#5.1-9.10), contains annotated calendars, daily planners, address books, Jordan's to-do lists, and notebooks. The subseries is arranged by format/genre (e.g., address books and daily calendars are followed by loose notes, then notebooks) and, within each format, items are arranged chronologically. Jordan typically composed drafts on yellow legal pads and used spiral notebooks to record notes while traveling and to maintain information about courses she taught. Very little consistency appears in terms of format and content of the notebooks. Some contain brief personal reflections, research notes, travel notes, interviews, etc., while others contain lecture notes, syllabi, course outlines, and student information. Most include personal information, such as to-do lists, amidst other pages. Undated notebooks appear last.
Subseries F, Financial, 1966-1995 (#10.1-11.2), contains correspondence, contracts, tax forms, etc., from Jordan's accountants. Jordan saved a staggering number of receipts to substantiate tax-deductions. The folders pertaining to her finances contain Jordan's tax returns, cancelled checks, and a sampling of receipts saved from one year. It is arranged chronologically. Most folders include notes.
Series III, CORRESPONDENCE WITH FAMILY AND LONG-TERM PARTNERS, 1936-2002 (scattered), 1976-2002 (bulk) (#11.3-20.1. 109.17), contains primarily correspondence between Jordan and her immediate family, her extended family, and the three partners with whom she was involved in enduring, committed relationships..
Subseries A, Parents and extended family, 1936-1998 (scattered) (#11.3-11.9), includes a small number of letters from her father, Granville Ivanhoe Jordan, and her mother, Mildred Fisher Jordan, both immigrants from the West Indies. Though few in number, the letters from her father further illuminate the family dynamics Jordan discussed in Soldier. Few documents pertain to Jordan's mother; the letters written by Mildred Jordan in this subseries were addressed to her husband, not her daughter. The majority of Mildred's writing to her daughter appears in the scrapbook (#3.8). This subseries also contains letters from Ethelyn Rutledge (Jordan's aunt), Valerie Orridge (Jordan's cousin, who lived with the Jordan family and was treated like Jordan's elder sibling), and Eugene Orridge (Jordan's nephew).
Subseries B, Michael Meyer and Meyer family, 1954-1996 (scattered), 1954-1978 (bulk) (#11.10-12.5), includes love-letters between Jordan and Meyer, poems, drawings, etc. This subseries also incorporates letters from Jordan's in-laws and other relatives through marriage. It is closed until January 1, 2055.
Subseries C, Christopher D. Meyer, 1955-2002 (#12.6-14.14, 109.17), contains a scrapbook, correspondence, drawings, etc., that document Christopher's relationship with his mother throughout his life. It contains letters written by Christopher to Jordan as well as correspondence about Christopher among Jordan, Michael Meyer, and others. All materials created by, addressed to, or intended for Christopher David Meyer as well as any photographs depicting him, are restricted during his lifetime. Written permission from the Jordan Literary Trust is required for access.
Subseries D, Sara Miles, 1976-1997 (#15.1-16.8), contains correspondence between Sara Miles and Jordan, as well some of Miles's writings, poetry, biographical material, and ephemera. Miles and Jordan met at a poetry reading in New York City (1976). As they worked with Patricia Jones, Sekou Sundiata, and other poets to persuade the American Poetry Review to adopt a more inclusive policy, they became deeply involved both professionally and personally. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the couple inspired one another creatively, engaging in joint poetry readings, and constructively critiquing one another's work. For a time Miles also acted as Jordan's business manager. They lived together, off and on, in New York and for a time described themselves as married. Though their romantic involvement ended in the 1980s, a very strong friendship lasted until Jordan's death. Jordan continued to seek Miles's feedback on poetry and prose (especially on her memoir) throughout her life. The correspondence is arranged chronologically with undated letters appearing in the final folder of correspondence; the last six folders contain writings by Miles and biographical material about her.
Subseries E. Adrienne Torf, 1983-2001 (#16.9-18.3), consists primarily of correspondence between Jordan and Torf when the two were intimately involved (1983-1987). Shortly after meeting Torf, an acclaimed pianist, composer, and feminist, Jordan began collaborating with her professionally. Despite living on opposite coasts, the couple became romantically involved and for a brief period lived together in Brooklyn. Though their open romantic partnership dissolved in 1987, their unique friendship and professional partnership continued until Jordan's death. Between 1983 and 1998, the couple collaborated on several projects, the most commercially successful of which was the musical drama, Bang Bang Über Alles. This subseries contains some letters from Jordan to Torf (identified as "outgoing" in the folder headings), and also biographical material, including Torf's curriculum vitae and ephemera. The bulk of this subseries contains letters to Jordan; these folders of correspondence are arranged chronologically. The last two folders contain biographical material and ephemera about Torf, as well as Torf's correspondence with others. Access to this subseries is restricted to those who obtain Torf's written permission.her. Subseries
Subseries F, Laura Flanders, 1996-2002 (#18.1-20.11), consists of correspondence between Jordan and print and broadcast journalist Laura Flanders. An outspoken activist, Flanders was the founding director of the Women's Desk at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and first met Jordan in that capacity. As their mutual respect and interaction increased, they became involved in an enduring, long-distance, intimate relationship. Jordan dedicated several poems to Flanders (addressing her as "b.b.L.") and sent her detailed e-mails and letters, describing her emotional experience writing her memoir, Soldier. She also critiqued drafts of Flanders's articles and endorsed her book, Real Majority, Media Minority; the Cost of Sidelining Women in Reporting (1997). Flanders likewise provided feedback and support to Jordan. She addressed most of her letters and e-mails to "Buzzard," a nickname used by Jordan's close friends and family. The correspondence also reflects their experiences in Lebanon, where, in 1996, they worked to document the atrocities civilians suffered at the hands of Israeli soldiers. The subseries consists of letters, cards, faxes and printed e-mails (including outgoing e-mails) discussing the complexities of their romantic relationship, and the relationships each held with her family. Often these very personal revelations were interspersed with discussions of current political topics. This subseries is closed until January 1, 2053.
Subseries A, Outgoing, 1964-1997 (#21.1-21.14), contains carbon copies and some originals of Jordan's outgoing correspondence. This subseries does not encompass all outgoing correspondence, but contains letters found loose or in segregated folders; included are responses to both professional and personal letters. (Because Jordan sometimes retained copies of her responses with incoming letters, any series containing correspondence may also contain Jordan's responses; individual folder titles in other series note the presence of her responses as "some outgoing.") This subseries is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Chronological, 1952-1954, 1964-2002 (#21.15-28.6, 109.19), contains correspondence of a personal nature with acquaintances and friends for whom Jordan chose not to create separate folders. Folder headings may include keywords (provided by the archivist) pertaining to the folder contents and/or names of key correspondents with whom Jordan communicated regularly. The keywords and names are neither exhaustive nor comprehensive but are intended to provide general guidance. This subseries also includes the minutes of "The Sisterhood," a group of black women authors, poets, dramatists, and performers who met once monthly beginning in 1977. The group included Patricia Murray, Alice Walker, Margo Jefferson, Paule Marshall, Phyl Garland, Lori Sharpe, Jessica Harris, Judith Wilson, Audreen Ballard, Toni Morrison, Ntozake Shange, Abike, and Nana Maynard, among others. The subseries is arranged chronologically. Search note: This finding aid contains no correspondence index. However, the names of selected correspondents (those who appear in the Additional catalog entries) can be searched using the browser's search feature. Because the search feature is also the most efficient way to find the recurring names and issues throughout the collection, there are few cross-references in the finding aid. Some letters from individual correspondents found within this series may also be found in Subseries C of this series.
Subseries C, Alphabetical, 1967-2002 (#28.7-45.6, 109.18, 109.20), contains letters, cards, faxes, etc., written to Jordan by close friends or other individuals. Inspired by her writing, many men and women developed deep crushes on Jordan, who often engaged in intense but short-lived intimate relationships with them. She created distinct folders for all of her long-term partners, her closest friends, and some of her lovers. However, she retained letters from many other friends and lovers within the chronological section of her personal correspondence files (Subseries B). Folder headings that were created by Jordan, typically the person's first name, appear in quotes. Folder headings that do not appear in quotes were created by the archivist. The subseries is arranged alphabetically, by surname. Jordan's personal correspondents span a broad range of artists and well-known creative personalities, including visual artists, composers, authors, academics, poets, activists, journalists, actors, and performers. Many writers shared drafts of poetry and essays with their letters, which contain remarks and suggestions about Jordan's writing as well. Many letters in the subseries provide an invaluable glimpse into the creative process of writing, the struggles encountered, and the supportive community between writers and artists. Holiday or birthday cards from correspondents in this subseries may also appear in Subseries B of this series, in the months of December and July, respectively.
Series V, BOOKS, 1967-2001 (#45.7-55.4), contains the majority of materials pertaining to each of Jordan's books and anthologies (with the exception of Poetry for the People, which appears in Series XIII, #80.6-82.9). It includes the some drafts, proofs, correspondence, some contracts, reviews, publicity and other printed matter (as found) for each book, including collections of essays, and anthologies of her poetry. Each book title has its own subseries; these are arranged alphabetically. Folders are loosely arranged by material type (i.e., notes, handwritten drafts, correspondence, promotional material, reviews, press releases, and related material). While this series incorporates the bulk of material about individual books, other useful correspondence pertaining to a particular work (including some contracts, royalty statements, and in some cases, critiques from friends) may be found throughout the collection, especially in professional correspondence with publishers and agents (Series XIV), but also in Jordan's personal correspondence with individuals, particularly Sara Miles, Ruth Miller, and Adrienne Rich, as noted. It is divided into twenty-four subseries. Search note: in many instances, handwritten drafts of poems and essays that appeared in collected works may be found in other series in the collection, especially Series VI, Series VII, and Series VIII; the browser's search feature is the most efficient way to find works by title throughout the collection. Search for "printed in (book title)."
Subseries A, Affirmative Acts, 1997-1999 (#45.7-45.10), contains materials including typescripts, grouped pages, contracts with Doubleday, reviews, etc., pertaining to the book's publication and production. Many of the essays in this collection were previously published in her regular column
(Just Inside the Door)in The Progressive magazine. While this series includes a partial typescript draft, it does not contain substantive preliminary drafts; these may be found in Series VII (Articles and Essays).
Subseries B, Civil Wars, 1978-1995, n.d. (scattered) (#45.11-46.6), contains materials pertaining to the book's first and subsequent publications. The book, Jordan's first collection of political essays, was published by Beacon Press. It includes essays, lectures, and letters (some of which were previously published independently), and incorporates her early works on Black English, city planning, and the Harlem riots of 1964, as well as themes of violence, racism, and love. At the time of its publication, reviewers noted that it was the first book of its genre published in the U.S. by a black woman author.
Subseries C, Dry Victories, 1972-1976 (#46.7-46.8), contains a special first edition of the book as well as scant materials directly concerning the book's publication. Writing for adolescents, Jordan explores themes of racism and violence using the dialogue of two boys discussing, in Black English, the eras of Reconstruction and civil rights in American history. Pages of historical photographs reinforce Jordan's text. Additional mention of Dry Victories may be found in Series XV, Subseries A (Professional correspondence, chronological) and in Series XIX, Photographs, Subseries H.
Subseries D, Fannie Lou Hamer, 1970-1979 (#46.9-46.12), contains materials pertaining to the publication and production of this children's biography illustrated by Albert Williams. It tells the story of activist Fannie Lou Hamer as she fought to register to vote in Mississippi and helped establish the Freedom Farm Cooperative. This subseries consists of proofs, reviews, etc., and is arranged chronologically. Jordan met and interviewed Hamer; complementary and supplemental material concerning their interactions and Jordan's research in Mississippi, may be found in Series II, Subseries E (Personal notes, calendars, address books, notebooks, etc., #8.2-8.6), and also interspersed through Series XV, Subseries A (Professional correspondence, chronological).
Subseries E, Haruko, Love Poems, 1992-1994 (#47.1-47.2), contains materials pertaining to the book's publication and production. Published by High Risk Books in 1994, the collection of poetry includes previously unpublished poems written to Haruko, a photographer with whom Jordan was intimately involved, as well as selected love poems written during the previous twenty years. Because the poems were either written to Haruko or published independently prior to this publication, drafts of Haruko poems may be found in Series VIII (Poetry). Other material pertaining to Haruko maybe found throughout the collection, specifically Series IV, Subseries C (Personal correspondence, alphabetical), which includes Haruko's letters to Jordan, and Series XV, Subseries A (Professional correspondence, chronological).
Subseries F, His Own Where, 1969-1987 (scattered) (#47.3-47.12), contains materials pertaining to the book's publication and first production, as well as correspondence about its subsequent translation. Written for adolescents, this work, Jordan's first novel, reflects Jordan's interest in urban planning and environmental design, her dedication to educating black children, and her commitment to reaching inner city children using Black English. Superficially a love story of two inner city teenagers, Buddy and Angela, the novel encompasses themes of child abuse, neglect, poverty, religion, power, pre-marital sex, and the dichotomous co-existence of rich and poor. It explores how one boy struggles to claim a safe space for himself and his girlfriend even though his age and position make him relatively powerless in society. His Own Where became the first full-length book Jordan wrote in Black English. The work won the New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year Award in 1971 and was nominated for the National Book Award in 1972.
Subseries G, Kimako's Story, 1979-1982, n.d. (# 47.13-47.16), contains materials related to the publication of this children's book, which was illustrated by Kay Buford. Related materials may be found in Series IV (Personal Correspondence).
Subseries H, Kissing God Goodbye: Poems, 1991-1997, 1995-1996 (#47.17-48.6), contains materials related to the publication of Jordan's twenty-fourth book. The title poem was written in response to Operation Rescue's campaign against abortion. The collection is comprised of shorter and epic-style poems that graphically address political issues of invasion, intolerance, violence, and oppression. Compelled to write by her observations of Bosnia, Belfast, Lebanon, Somalia, and Los Angeles, Jordan challenges any one group's right to claim God's exclusive favor. Published in 1997 by Anchor Books of Doubleday, the collection won critical acclaim. This subseries contains correspondence, fan mail, reviews, and typescript drafts of the compilation. It does not contain early drafts of the individual poems; extant drafts of poems may be found in Series VII (Poetry) where they are listed by title.
Subseries I, Living Room, 1985-1986 (#48.7-48.10), contains materials related to the production and publication of this volume of poems, published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1985. Completed on the eve of Ronald Reagan's re-election as President of the United States, the work demands "living room" for the millions around the globe who face colonization, dehumanization, and brutal oppression from a ruling elite. Many poems lyrically describe the atrocities encountered by indigenous peoples in distant locations such as Nicaragua, Beirut, Lebanon, and South Africa, while others speak out against injustice and the poverty gap in America. This subseries does not include drafts of individual poems that appear in Living Room; extant drafts may be found in Series VIII (Poetry) where they are listed by title.
Subseries J, Lyrical Campaigns: Selected Poems, 1989-1990 (#48.11), contains reviews of this small collection of poems published in London by Virago Press, 1988.
Subseries K, Moving Towards Home: Political Essays, 1989 (#48.12), contains reviews of this small collection of previously-published essays, produced in London by Virago Press. Thematically, the essays encompass the experience of African Americans in the United States, poverty, Black English, education, the Harlem riots, and Nicaragua and South Africa. The majority of essays were originally printed in On Call.
Subseries L, Naming Our Destiny: New and Selected Poems, 1990 (#48.13-48.14), contains book reviews and proofs. Published by Thunder's Mouth Press in 1990, this work includes Jordan's personal and political poetry, exploring themes of invasion and rape. The book is broken into parts; parts one through three include select poems previously published in Things That I Do in the Dark, Living Room, and Passion, respectively. Part four, titled "North Star (New Poems 1985-1989)," consists of forty new poems published in the United States for the first time. Discussions of the poems included in the segment "North Star" appear in Series IV, Subseries C (Personal correspondence, alphabetical: see especially Ruth Miller and Tanzua Bedasse).
Subseries M, New Days: Poems of Exile and Return, 1970-1972, 1973-1975 (#48.15-48.21), contains materials related to the publication of this work by Emerson Hall in 1974. The book breaks into five parts: part one, "Conditions for Leaving," was written in spring 1970; part two, "Poems of Exile," consists of the numbered "Roman Poems" written while Jordan lived in Italy, at the American Academy of Rome; part three, "Poems of Return," and part four consist of poems written primarily in 1971-1972 that were later incorporated in Directed by Desire (published posthumously); and part five, "poem against a conclusion," consists of one poem which appears in the front matter to Things that I Do in the Dark. This subseries includes carbons of form letters sent to readers before publication (requesting endorsements for the book); authors' endorsements; Jordan's handwritten notes about publicity and contacts; as well as uncorrected proofs, and an inscribed paperback copy of the book.
Subseries N, New Life, New Room, 1972-1975 (#49.1-49.4), contains materials related to the publication of this children's book, written by Jordan and illustrated by Ray Cruz. Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company in 1975, the book relays the experience of the Robinsons, a married couple and their three young children. When the family learns they are expecting another child, the children panic, anticipating disruption of their lives, as they are living in an already-crowded city apartment. The book teaches children about sharing and giving as it shows how they reached a creative solution to the limited space. Jordan conceived of the idea for the project while she was in Italy; see also Series IV (Personal Correspondence) for several folders containing materials pertaining to the "room book" project.
Okay Now(also titled
On Time), 1975-1996 (scattered) (#49.5-50.4), explores land reform and cooperative economic alternatives by describing the experiences of an impoverished black family in an experimental commune in Mississippi. The novel grew from research and a prose work about life in Mississippi that Jordan mentions beginning with her Prix de Rome in Environmental Design in 1970. Her publisher rejected the nonfiction work and she continued to develop and revise the novel for publication in 1977 and again in 1996. She arranged and kept the material pertaining to
Okay Nowin separate spring binders that included clippings, correspondence, and handwritten drafts, presumably in meaningful order to Jordan. This arrangement was preserved; folders contain the contents of individual binders. Some of the research material includes carbons of final papers about life in Mississippi that Jordan researched and wrote for her nonfiction work (1968-1971). Although she titled the novel "Okay Now" in 1977, at some point during the 1980s she re-submitted a version of this work titled "On Time" to her agent. When she endeavored to publish the work in 1996, she reverted to the title "Okay Now," but the narrative of "On Time" reflects the final 1996 version. Because "On Time" is a version of "Okay Now," this subseries encompasses two folders of drafts of "On Time" labeled as such; these two folders follow all of the drafts labeled "Okay Now." Though Jordan explored several publication options, the novel was never published.
Subseries P, On Call: Political Essays, 1985-1988 (#50.5-50.9), contains correspondence pertaining to the publication of this work, which represents Jordan's second compilation of essays. Published in the U.S. by South End Press, the work explores the political implications of language, as well as the political realities of American foreign policy in South Africa and Nicaragua in particular. The majority of this subseries contains correspondence related to the problems which arose from the unauthorized publication of the book in England. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries Q, Passion: New Poems, 1977-1980, 1980-1981 (#50.10-50.17), contains materials pertaining to the publication and production of Jordan's eleventh volume of poetry. The work, published by Beacon Press in 1980, celebrates diversity and received positive reviews. In "For the Sake of a People's Poetry: Walt Whitman and the Rest of Us," Jordan advocates a pluralistic approach to poetry, criticizing censorship and the repression of minority voices in the canon of American literature. She embraces the passion expressed in Walt Whitman's poetry and continues his legacy with lyrical and sensual poems. At the same time, these poems explore racial and geopolitical aspects to personal violation (i.e., rape, oppression, and emotional abuse). This subseries includes correspondence, typescript drafts, publicity materials and reviews. Handwritten drafts of poems (if extant) may be found by poem title in Series VIII, Subseries B (see "Printed in Passion" in folder description). This subseries is arranged by type of material, with correspondence and typed drafts appearing first, and printed materials following.
Subseries R, Soldier: A Poet's Childhood, 1979, 1996-2001 (#51.1-53.5), contains materials pertaining to this work, a memoir of Jordan's childhood and the only completed autobiographical account of her life (working titles: "Portrait of the Poet as a Little Black Girl" and "My Childhood"). The memoir incorporates the intricacies of family dynamics and domestic violence, issues that Jordan addressed in earlier dramatic work, specifically, All These Blessings and
The Match. Deciding in 1997 to write a memoir about her childhood, Jordan dedicated two years to polishing the book. During that time it underwent title changes and structural shifts; ultimately Basic Books published it in 2000. This subseries reflects those changes, beginning with Jordan's handwritten drafts, arranged chronologically and by chapter title, with earliest drafts appearing first. Corrected typescript drafts follow and are arranged (based on Jordan's notation) according to first, second, and third drafts with some containing dates and others undated. Earlier corrected typescript drafts containing neither date nor Jordan's notation follow the third drafts. Corrected typescript drafts of chapters edited in December 1998 appear next; these are arranged by chapter title, following the final order of the published book. The archivist added bracketed numbers on the top right-hand corner of these 1998 drafts; they refer to the pagination of the final draft (November 1999) and reflect very minor copy edits or differences in chapter arrangement from the final draft. The subseries contains multiple drafts, with Jordan's corrections, as well as friends' and an editor's annotations, and correspondence, contracts, notes, etc., from publishers, editors, and publicists throughout the many stages of the book's production. Correspondence also incorporates publicity for the book, including itineraries and schedules for the book tour. Jordan separated one folder of materials from editor Tim Bartlett and publicist Sally McCartin; this appears at the end of the series. In this subseries, quotation marks indicate chapter titles; folder headings created by Jordan are described as such in brackets.
Subseries S, Some Changes, 1970-1973 (#53.6-53.8), contains primarily proof pages, reviews, and endorsements of the book. Published by E. P. Dutton & Co., Inc., this volume of poetry became the first work of a "Black Poet Series" edited by Julius Lester. This early work received positive critical reviews and helped establish Jordan as an influential black poet.
Subseries T, Soulscript, 1968-1970 (#53.9-53.14), contains materials pertaining to the production and publication of the first anthology that Jordan edited (Doubleday, 1970). The subseries contains correspondence with contributors and publishers, notes, biographies of contributors, reviews, and other related material. It is arranged chronologically and by material type, with correspondence appearing first, followed by biographies of contributors, notes, then published reviews. Jordan sought to represent the divergent black voices in America; contributors included primarily well-known poets (Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Le Roi Jones), as well as a handful of adolescents.
Subseries U, Technical Difficulties: African American Notes on the State of the Union, 1988-1994 (#53.15-54.4), contains materials pertaining to the book's production and publication. First published in 1992 by Pantheon, these provocative political essays (her third book of essays published in the U.S.) explored contemporary events (including Senate hearings for confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas and witness Anita Hill; the Los Angeles riots of 1992; and the anti-apartheid movement) as well as personal issues. While the essays address a variety of divergent topics, the compilation, like Jordan's other writings, eloquently spoke out against oppression, hatred, racism, sexism, bigotry, and cruelty. This subseries contains typescript drafts of essays, many of which were published earlier in The Progressive or delivered as addresses. Handwritten drafts of essays (if extant) may be found by searching by title in Series VI (Addresses and Speeches) and Series VII (Articles and Essays); folder headings include reference to Technical Difficulties. This series is arranged chronologically and by material, with typescript drafts (working title: "Technical Difficulties: New Political Essays and Writings, 1987-1988") and proofs first, followed by correspondence with publisher, reviews and publicity materials.
Subseries V, Things That I Do in the Dark, Selected Poetry, 1977-1978, n.d. (#54.5-54.9) contains materials pertaining to the book's production and publication, including correspondence, book jacket design, and reviews. The selection of poetry incorporates poems written between 1966 and 1976 and was arranged thematically in four parts: "For My Own," "Directed by Desire," "Against Stillwaters," and "Towards a Personal Semantics"; some of these titles were used to title future works. The poems address issues of a personal nature (Jordan's family, love, her experience as an African American woman) and political situations (e.g., in Angola,Pretoria, and Soweto). This subseries is arranged by material type and chronologically, with book jackets appearing first, followed by publicity materials, endorsements, and reviews. It does not contain handwritten drafts of poems that appear in the work; drafts of poems, if extant, may be found by poem title in Series VIII, Subseries B (search for "Printed in Things That I Do in the Dark).
Subseries W, The Voice of the Children, 1967-1971 (#54.10-54.12), contains materials pertaining to this anthology as well as the poetry workshops that Jordan co-conducted with Terri Bush under the guidance of the Teachers and Writers Collaborative. In the Saturday morning workshops Jordan and Bush taught creative writing and poetry to adolescents in Brooklyn, encouraging them to formulate and express their identity through writing. With its goal of facilitating writing to empower young people in the inner-city, the program foreshadowed Jordan's later work with Poetry for the People. Though Jordan mentions "diaries of the Teachers and Writers Program," only copied typescripts were found within the collection.
Subseries X, Who Look at Me, 1967-1975 (#54.13-55.4), contains correspondence, drafts, fan mail, reviews, etc., pertaining to Jordan's first published book, Who Look at Me. The project, a children's book featuring poetry alongside visual art depicting African Americans throughout history, was conceived by Milton Meltzer, who had begun collaborating on the project with Langston Hughes. Upon Hughes's untimely death, Meltzer asked Jordan to write poetry to accompany the images he chose for the book. This subseries contains Jordan's correspondence with artists, the publisher Thomas Y. Crowell Company (especially Matilda Welter and Cyrilly Abels), as well as poets Clarence Major and Millen Brand. While this subseries contains the bulk of materials related to the book, references to it may be found in Series IV (Personal Correspondence), and Series XV, Subseries A (Professional correspondence). It is arranged chronologically and according to type of material, with correspondence appearing first, followed by incomplete typescript drafts, the original book jacket, publicity materials, reviews, and a specially bound copy.
Subseries A, Early speeches, 1969-1970 (#55.5-55.6), contains final typescripts of or clippings about speeches by Jordan. While Subseries B also contains speeches written early in Jordan's career, folders in that subseries contain more substantial and/or multiple drafts of speeches, while this subseries contains final copies. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Speeches, alphabetical by title, 1968-2002 (#55.7-57.13), contains drafts of addresses, speeches, introductions of other writers, and eulogies, arranged alphabetically by title. Most folders contain multiple drafts; in many cases, titles changed. Jordan typically titled folders "Drafts" and did not identify the works therein by title; the archivist created folder titles to reflect speech titles and these appear in quotes. In many cases, the speech later was published, either in a periodical, in one of Jordan's collected works, or in an independent anthology. Often the published title of the speech varied from the title of the speech as delivered (though its contents remained identical); when titles changed completely, the archivist noted such differences. Untitled speeches appear in Subseries C.
Subseries C. Untitled speeches, 1973-2002 (#57.14-58.11), contains untitled speeches and eulogies. It is arranged chronologically; folder titles reflect the place, group, or event at which she spoke, and undated works appear at the end of the series.
Subseries D, Introductions, 1977-1998, n.d. (#58.12-58.22), contains drafts and clippings of Jordan's introductions of individuals at various public events or ceremonies, arranged alphabetically.
Series VII, ARTICLES AND ESSAYS, 1954-2001 (#58.23-63.3), groups drafts of Jordan's essays, most of which were published in periodicals or in collections of essays. It is arranged in four subseries.
Series A, Early works and single articles, 1954-1999 (#58.23-58.27), contains Jordan's earliest published articles and copies of individual articles, editorials, op-ed pieces, etc., found in publications to which Jordan contributed frequently and for which corresponding drafts were not found. This subseries is arranged chronologically, with the titles of each work.
Subseries B, Articles and essays, 1973-2001 (#58.28-62.22), contains drafts of articles and essays printed in a wide variety of publications. Jordan contributed regularly to Essence, and Ms., and wrote a regular column, (
Just Inside the Door) for The Progressive magazine. For a brief time, she also wrote
The Black Poet Speaks of Poetryfor the American Poetry Review, a column which appeared sporadically. For most of these short pieces, multiple drafts exist along with the final published clipping. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by essay title. The majority of articles and essays were published in multiple places and/or in book form; in most cases, the archivist noted the name of the first collection in which the article appeared. Considerable overlap (but not duplication) occurs between this series and Series VI (Addresses and Speeches): many of the articles were printed versions of speeches titled differently. Articles first delivered as speeches have drafts in Series VI, arranged by title and cross-referenced when possible.
Subseries C, Untitled essays and fragments, 1970-2001, n.d. (#62.23-63.3) contains untitled essays, arranged chronologically. Folder titles were created to reflect the place, group, or event at which Jordan spoke. Beginning phrases of work appear in quotation marks. Undated works appear at the end of the series.
Series VIII, POETRY, 1954-2001 (#63.4-67.7), contains published and unpublished poems. It is arranged in four subseries.
Subseries A, Early works and single published poems, 1954-2000 (#63.5-63.13), contains published copies of Jordan's early work, and copies or clippings of individual published poems (from journals, magazines, or anthologies) for which drafts were not found.
Subseries B, Poems by title, 1953-2001 (#63.14-66.8) contains published and unpublished poems and drafts. Jordan typically wrote first drafts on yellow legal pads, and in many cases, she tore the pages from the pads (especially if she returned to a poem years later) and segregated them in groups, either by stapling them together, placing them in folders labeled "drafts," folding pages together, or tucking them into a blank manila envelope. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by poem title, with numerical titles (e.g., "1976") appearing first. The arrangement of pages within folders reflects the original order in which they were found (e.g., as many as ten drafts of a first page could be followed by several other pages in order, then followed by multiple drafts of random other pages). Folder headings were created by the archivist, using the title by which the poem was published (working titles are also listed). While retaining Jordan's order of pages and groupings, the archivist placed multiple drafts of the same work and a published clipping within the same folder. Untitled drafts appear in Subseries C.
Subseries C, Later poems and untitled, 1977-2000, n.d. (#66.9-66.22), contains handwritten drafts of some of Jordan's final poems, as well as drafts of untitled works. The first folder ("Later poems") some of which were published in
Directed by Desire, appear first in the subseries; they are followed by drafts or partial drafts of poems that Jordan did not title. As some poems are also undated, the untitled poems are arranged alphabetically, according to the poem's first line, which appears in quotation marks and in brackets.
Subseries D, Poetry groupings, 1953-2001 (#66.23- 67.7), is comprised of single poems gathered together by Jordan or her assistants. The works appear to have been arranged for a specific project or poetry reading, or as a mock-up of order for one of her readings or anthologies. The majority of material in this subseries was found grouped together in unlabeled or unidentified binders, folders, or envelopes. The archivist preserved the distinct order within groupings (maintaining the few duplicate copies of poems in the order they appear). Folder headings supplied by Jordan appear first, in quotation marks (e.g., "Black Box and Philadelphia Reading," "Poems published and submissions"), other headings were created by the archivist and folders are ordered chronologically. This subseries contains primarily copies of poems and does not include drafts, many of which are contained in Subseries B. Although the majority of correspondence pertaining to Jordan's submissions for publication appears interspersed in her professional correspondence files, Series XV, Subseries A (Correspondence, chronological), one separate folder of correspondence about submissions was found among her poetry (#66.27).
Subseries A, Bang Bang Über Alles, 1983-1987 (#67.8-69.5), contains drafts, correspondence, contracts, receipts, etc., pertaining to the production of the musical drama written and produced with musician Adrienne B. Torf. The couple conceptualized a collaborative union of music and poetry shortly after their introduction in Minneapolis in 1983. The title phrase "Bang Bang Über Alles" derives from the combination of the children's rhyme: "Bang, bang; you're dead" and a line popular with Hitler supporters (from "Das Lied der Deutschen"), "Deutschland über alles," or "Germany Above All." The musical drama explores the complexities of racial bigotry and discrimination by incorporating and blending seemingly divergent types of music: gospel, rock, blues, new wave, and classical. Additionally, the storyline follows a group of performing artists who, after learning of the murder of a Jewish family and the lynching of two blacks by white supremacists, decides to confront the violence of the Ku Klux Klan through their unique music. Jordan composed lyrics as Torf created music, and eventually they produced the entire musical drama. After staged readings in New York, the production company Seven Stages became interested and offered to produce the two-hour work, and the cast, including Jordan and Torf, began a five-week tour. The premier performance occurred in Atlanta and provoked protest from conservatives. Additional information about Bang Bang may be found in Jordan's correspondence with Torf (both personal and professional). Additionally, while some of Jordan's research notes and clippings appear in this subseries, other research notes may be found in Series XVII, Subseries A (Subject Files), particularly "Ku Klux Klan." The materials of this subseries were found mostly loose in two cartons labeled "Bang Bang." Folder headings created by Jordan appear in quotes. This subseries is arranged chronologically by material type, with drafts and handwritten notes appearing first, followed by correspondence about the production, publicity, reviews, research, etc. Drafts, notes, and/or annotations were written by Jordan, unless attributed to Torf.
Subseries B, I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky: Earthquake Romance, 1993-1998 (#69.6-72.11), contains materials pertaining to a "New Age opera" on which Jordan collaborated with musicians Peter Sellars and John Adams. Materials include correspondence, handwritten and typescript drafts, notes, touring information, contracts, finances, publicity packets, etc., and were found mostly loose in several cartons labeled "Ceiling/Sky." Folder headings that appear in quotation marks reflect the title of the scene. This subseries is arranged chronologically by material type, with drafts of the libretto/lyrics and handwritten notes appearing first (arranged by act and scene with folders containing multiple drafts and variations of the scene as it evolved), followed by correspondence about the production, publicity, reviews, research, etc.
Subseries C, Miscellaneous collaborations, 1980-2001 (#72.12-73.5), includes materials pertaining to collaborations (some proposed and unpublished) between Jordan and various individuals. After working together on Bang Bang Über Alles, Jordan collaborated with Adrienne Torf throughout her career on several projects that incorporated similar themes, culminating with a collaborative performance in 2000. In the mid-1980s the two began work on a project called "The Match"; although this project was not completed or performed, Jordan later based the play All These Blessings: Scenes From a Life on the project. Also in the 1980s, Bernice Reagon created music to accompany Jordan's poem,
For Somebody to Start Singing.The following decade, after working together on I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky: Earthquake Romance, Jordan communicated briefly, with the possible intent to collaborate, with Peters Sellars on two future projects: Peony Pavilion (a sixteenth-century Kun opera drama he produced in 1997), and
Is Not Isin 1999. This subseries is arranged chronologically with undated materials appearing last.
Series X, PLAYS, 1979-1989, n.d. (#73.6-74.9), contains drafts and outlines of works written or adapted specifically for the stage, and consists of four subseries.
Subseries A, All These Blessings: Scenes from a Life, 1988-1989, n.d. (#73.6-73.16), contains various drafts, notes, and other materials related to the play's production. Addressing the themes of family loyalty and domestic violence, Jordan loosely based the play's plot and characters on events and people in her life, in an early attempt at autobiographical writing. The New Dramatists presented a staged reading of the play in 1988. This subseries is arranged by material type with drafts and notes appearing first, followed by correspondence.
Subseries B, For the Arrow that Flies by Day, 1981 (#73.17-74.1), contains corrected typescript drafts, one of which was completed while at Yaddo in 1981. The play is an expanded and alternate version of The Issue, which Jordan wrote in 1979.
Subseries C, The Issue: A Play in Three Acts, 1979-1981 (74.2-74.7), includes notes, drafts, and other materials pertaining to the production of her first full-length play. The Issue was produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival and directed by Ntozake Shange (1981). Drafts are arranged chronologically.
Subseries D, Other plays, n.d. (#74.8-74.9), consists of notes, ideas, and drafts of plays, some of which remain unfinished. Folder headings were created by Jordan.
Series XI, OTHER WRITINGS, 1953-2000, n.d. (#74.10-76.11), contains other genres and types of writing, including film scenarios and screenplays, papers and reports, reviews, and ghost writings. The series is arranged by material type.
Subseries A, Film scenarios, 1968-1970 (#74.10-74.11), contains notes, outlines, drafts of film treatments, correspondence, etc., for two films. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Papers, 1953-1971, n.d. (scattered) (#74.12-75.11), contains mostly papers written in 1966 and 1967 dealing with the subject of city planning, resulting from Jordan's work at the Mobilization for Youth, Inc., in New York City. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries C, Reviews, 1966-1987 (#75.12-76.6), contains drafts, typescripts, and clippings of reviews. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries D, Miscellaneous writings, 1967-2000, n.d. (#76.7-76.11), encompasses short stories, ghost written pieces Jordan produced for others, interviews that Jordan conducted, etc. It is arranged by genre and chronologically.
Series XII, TEACHING AND ACADEMIC WORK, 1967-1999 (#76.12-78.2), contains some of those files Jordan designated "business" as they were more public in nature than personal. The series includes correspondence, contracts, minutes, etc., that pertain to her roles in education, from adjunct faculty member to tenured professor. It is divided into two subseries.
Subseries A, Adjunct teaching and visiting professorships, 1967-1999 (#76.12-77.7), includes correspondence, contracts, faculty handbooks, university policies, course descriptions and materials, etc., pertaining to Jordan's work as a lecturer and adjunct faculty member at various colleges. This subseries contains carbon copies of only some of Jordan's responses; related letters by Jordan may also be found in Series IV, Subseries A (Outgoing correspondence), which she maintained separately. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by institution name, with materials pertaining to unidentified institutions appearing first. Folder headings that appear in quotes were created by Jordan.
Subseries B, State University of New York (SUNY), Stony Brook, 1976-1989 (#77.8-78.2), includes correspondence, contracts, course descriptions and materials, etc., pertaining to Jordan's work in the English department and as director of the Poetry Center. It is arranged chronologically.
Series XIII, TEACHING AND PROFESSIONAL WORK, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, BERKELEY, 1988-2002 (#78.3-82.9), includes correspondence, calendars, schedules, publicity, etc., related to Jordan's professional career at the University of California, Berkeley. After visiting the campus in 1988, Jordan was offered and accepted a tenured appointment teaching English, women's studies, and African American studies. This series is divided into three subseries reflecting administrative details, courses taught, and "Poetry for the People," student-led, community-based workshops that evolved from one of her English courses.
Subseries A, Correspondence and administrative, 1988-2001 (#78.3-78.14), contains papers found in folders labeled "Berkeley" or "Business," when labeled at all. It contains primarily correspondence and departmental information, as well as merit reviews and evaluations. Folder headings in quotes were created by Jordan. This subseries is arranged in chronological order, reflecting the manner in which it was found.
Subseries B, Course materials, 1990-2001 (#79.1-80.5), contains course materials, including readers and syllabi. Material for the class "Poetry for the People," including course readers, syllabi, assignments, and correspondence, appears in this subseries; however, material related to Poetry for the People as it evolved into the community at large and allied with other groups appears in Subseries C. This subseries is arranged chronologically. Folder headings reflect the course titles; those created by Jordan appear in quotation marks.
Subseries C, Poetry for the People, 1991-2002 (#80.6-82.9), contains the majority of information about Poetry for the People as an entity that unfolded outside of the University of California, Berkeley (UCB), while still being connected to it. The second section of the subseries contains course materials. This subseries contains correspondence concerning the formation and structure of Poetry for the People (often referred to as P4P in the correspondence), a project of community outreach and the arts that Jordan developed from her course, the "Teaching and Writing of Poetry," and was funded in part through the African American Studies program at UCB. Graduates who completed the course became "Student Teachers of Poetry" (referred to in the correspondence as STPs), and conducted six-week sessions for various community groups in the Berkeley area. In fall 1995, Jordan collaborated with an Oakland community organization, La Peña Cultural Center, to institute a pilot program with students of Berkeley High School. That same year, collaborating with Janice Mirikitani, San Francisco's 2000 poet laureate and executive director of Glide Memorial Church's outreach programs, Poetry for the People received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund grant to operate the program with Glide for three years. Routledge Press published an anthology, June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint; this anthology of student's poetry documented the courses as they developed, thus serving as a model for others hoping to create similar programs.
Most of the material in this subseries was found in folders marked "P4P," "Glide," "Spring '95" or "Fall '96," etc., as well as unlabeled folders. The material about the Berkeley High School collaboration was found in folders marked "Berkeley" or "KR scandal" (these folders pertain to a disagreement between Jordan, a student, and student teacher). The subseries is arranged accordingly, with general materials and correspondence pertaining to the course held at UCB, and the formation of the anthology, appearing first (arranged chronologically), followed by materials pertaining to specific collaborations that occurred when workshops were held in the larger community (e.g., Glide Memorial Church). Search note: other correspondence pertaining to Poetry for the People appears in various series in this collection; using the browser's search feature is the most efficient way to find recurring names and issues throughout the collection.
Series XIV, PROFESSIONAL WORK, PUBLISHING, 1964-2001 (#82.10-85.10), contains correspondence, contracts, and other materials pertaining to the submission and publication of Jordan's work. It includes correspondence with agents, publishers, and editors of journals in which she regularly published articles over a substantial period of time. These folders contain materials that were kept distinct by Jordan; however, considerable overlap but little duplication exists between this subseries and Series XV (Professional Work, General). Search note: while this subseries includes correspondence about her works, contracts, itineraries for promotional tours and readings, etc., it does not include drafts of work. These drafts, when extant, are arranged according to title, within other series. Titles of poems, articles, essays, speeches, books, etc., can be searched using the browser's search feature. This series is divided into four subseries.
Subseries A, Agents, 1964-1998 (#82.10-83.9), encompasses correspondence between Jordan and the agents whom she chose to represent her major works. It is arranged alphabetically, by agency name.
Subseries B, Correspondence with publishers, 1968-1998 (#83.10-84.13), consists of correspondence, including proposals, contracts, etc., with major and minor publishers of Jordan's books. These folders contain materials that were kept distinct by Jordan; folder headings appearing in quotes were created by her. It is arranged alphabetically, by publisher's name. A great deal of overlap but little duplication exists between this subseries and Series XV (Professional Work, General).
Subseries C, Journals, 1977-2001 (#85.1-85.10), includes correspondence, contracts, agreements, and miscellaneous materials between Jordan and various journals in which her work appeared. It does not represent all journals in which Jordan published, but reflects her method of organization. For the most part, it represents journals in which Jordan published regularly and over an extended period of time; however, some folder titles (e.g., Index) reflect the filing preferences of Jordan's various assistants in the 1990s, and thus may also include periodicals in which Jordan published only occasionally. Other publications in which Jordan published regularly (e.g., the Black Scholar or Christianity and Crisis) earlier in her career, prior to acquiring personal assistants, were not maintained separately by Jordan but interspersed with the general professional work; thus, considerable overlap occurs between this series and Series XV (Professional Work, General). Thus, folder headings were created by the archivist but they reflect Jordan's organization. This subseries is arranged alphabetically, by publication name. Folder headings in quotes were created by Jordan.
Subseries D, Permissions to reprint Jordan's work, 1995, n.d. (#85.11-85.13), contains correspondence and requests sent to Jordan from various publishers for permission to reprint individual works. Folder headings were created by Jordan.
Subseries A, Correspondence, chronological, 1967-2002 (#86.1-97.21), contains correspondence, contracts, itineraries, etc., originally labeled "business." The archivist maintained Jordan's chronological arrangement but created more specific folder headings (e.g., Professional work, general, March-June 1987). Within folders, documents appear in rough chronological order; however, the order in some folders also reflects the distinct personal styles of Jordan's various assistants (e.g., in the late 1980s, assistant Carol Morgan stapled, attached, or included carbons of Jordan's responses to "business" letters; in earlier years, Jordan or other assistants separated her outgoing correspondence into distinct "outgoing" folders). These divergent organizing systems were retained, reflecting eras of Jordan's life. The majority of the correspondence consists of solicitations for Jordan's participation in speaking engagements and poetry readings, and responses to poetry submissions, conferences, etc. It also contains letters from Jordan's friends pertaining exclusively to professional matters; letters from individuals and former students asking for assistance or recommendations; letters from businesses, hotels, and airlines, etc., responding to complaints Jordan initiated; conference details; some travel itineraries; general announcements, and related printed material; business-based letters from other poets and friends who include samples of poetry for Jordan's critique. Typically, enclosures were not found with letters. The archivist has expanded the folder headings to highlight names of some prominent correspondents. Names are intended to provide the broadest description of folder contents; they are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. Considerable overlap exists among Series XII, XIII, and XIV, as correspondence regarding speaking engagements, books, or events found in one series complements materials found in other series (e.g., this subseries contains documents regarding conferences at which Jordan delivered addresses, while Series XIV may contain complementary materials about the same event).
Subseries B, Organizations and projects, 1967-1998 (#98.1-101.7), contains correspondence, contracts, itineraries, etc., that reflect Jordan's professional affiliations and projects. Hoping to rectify global imbalances of power and wealth and to create a more equitable, tolerant world, Jordan dedicated herself to improving educational standards and ending intolerance, racism, and sexism. She committed herself to several human rights organizations (e.g., MADRE, the international women's human rights organization) and causes. Although they contain similar materials to her "general" business files, Jordan kept these files separate. They are arranged alphabetically; folder headings in quotations were created by Jordan (or her assistants). Descriptive keywords added by the archivist are intended to provide the broadest description of folder contents and are by no means exhaustive. Some overlap but little duplication exists between the topics in these folders and Subseries A (General Correspondence, Chronological).
Subseries C, Legal, 1977-1998 (#101.9-102.3), contains correspondence, contracts, forms, etc., discussing literary rights, copyright, etc. Jordan created the majority of folder headings in this subseries with the name of an individual attorney or law firm. They are arranged alphabetically. The last folder contains drafts of a power of attorney contract.
Subseries D, Fan mail, 1967-2002 (#102.4-103.1), contains responses to Jordan's work. It is arranged chronologically.
Series XVI, SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS AND APPEARANCES, 1969-2001 (#103.2-105.5), contains materials found in folders Jordan labeled "gigs" and, for a period in the late 1990s, from folders her assistant labeled by location. It contains some correspondence, travel itineraries, and notes about guest appearances, readings, or lectures to various colleges, non-profit organizations, or corporate groups. It is divided into three subseries.
Subseries A. Speaking engagements, chronological, 1973-2001 (#103.2-103.15), contains materials pertaining to Jordan's "gigs," ranging from poetry readings to keynote addresses. Most folders include a variety of documents, such as correspondence, itineraries, contracts, publicity materials, and Jordan's handwritten notes. Folder headings in quotation marks were created by Jordan.
Subseries B, Speaking engagements, alphabetical, 1988-1996 (#104.1-104.15), contains correspondence, itineraries, contracts, solicitations, research notes. etc., regarding Jordan's poetry readings and speaking engagements.
Subseries C, Publicity for Jordan's readings and events, 1969-2001 (#104.16-105.5), contains publicity materials and ephemera such as posters, flyers, leaflets, programs, etc., primarily for poetry readings (but not for formal speeches or book tours). Occasionally, Jordan wrote notes on the announcements; they are noted in the folder title. This subseries does not include correspondence, itineraries, or copies of Jordan's readings.
Series XVII, SUBJECT FILES, COLLECTED EPHEMERA, AND WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 1964-2002 (#105.6-109.12), consists of pamphlets and clippings collected by Jordan and arranged alphabetically by individual or subject. It is divided into three subseries.
Subseries A, Subject files, 1967-2001 (#105.6-107.23), contains miscellaneous materials on a broad variety of subjects, arranged alphabetically. Folder headings in quotes were created by Jordan.
Subseries B, Collected ephemera, 1964-2002 (#108.1-108.7), contains flyers, pamphlets, brochures, bulletins, etc., documenting events for activities, readings, or performances of friends. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries C, Writings by others, 1971-1989, n.d. (#108.8-109.15), contains poems and essays that Jordan received from others. These works were found segregated in a box and the archivist maintained this distinction.
Series XVIII. OVERSIZED, 1968-2002 (#FD.1-FD.2, #F+D.1-F+D.7, #OD.1-OD.4, #SD.1-SD.2) contains oversized materials, primarily promotional posters and flyers, that were found throughout the collection.
Series XIX, Photographs, 1942-2002, n.d. (#PD.1-PD.122f+), contains loose photographs and dismantled albums. Although Jordan, like her father, was an amateur photographer, large quantities of receipts for film developing indicate she did not usually develop images herself. Photographs taken by Jordan, when identified, are noted on folder headings. Some of the photographs in this collection are, or will be, cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others are "uncataloged" photographs; these include blurred images, slight variations of images, and images with insufficient research interest (or accessible information) to warrant cataloging. These are either placed in separate folders labeled "uncataloged" or they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*]. This series is arranged in ten subseries.
Subseries A, Jordan alone, 1942-2000 (#PD.1-PD.12), includes photographs taken by friends, as well as publicity stills. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries B, Events and small gatherings, 1979-1999 (#PD.13-PD.36), includes photographs of Jordan at informal gatherings with friends, and events at which she was honored. It is arranged chronologically.
Subseries C, Family, Long-Term Partners, and Pets, 1950-2001, n.d. (#PD.37-PD.58), contains photographs depicting Jordan's family members, significant others, and pets. Some include photographs taken while traveling, as noted.
Subseries D, Jordan with others, alphabetical, 1955-2002 (#PD.59-PD.65) includes candid shots of Jordan with close friends and business partners, arranged alphabetically.
Subseries E, Jordan with others, chronological, 1977-2001 (#PD.66-PD.70), includes images of Jordan with groups of friends and/or with unidentified acquaintances.
Subseries F, Individuals, alphabetical, 1954-2002 (#PD.71-PD.80), includes candid shots of close friends, and business partners, not with Jordan. It is arranged alphabetically.
Subseries G, Individuals, chronological, 1951-1999 (#PD.81-PD.83 ) includes images of friends and acquaintances, not with Jordan.
Subseries H, Professional projects and collaborations, 1970-1999, n.d. (#PD.84-PD.96 ) includes research photographs and original artwork used in the book Dry Victories as well as artwork and performance scenes from I Was Looking at the Ceiling and then I saw the Sky. Also included are photographs of an exhibition for the African American Burial Ground; photographs taken on location while filming A Place of Rage, and photographs documenting readings and activities of Poetry for the People.
Subseries I, Research photographs and places traveled, 1969-1970, 1996, 1998 (#PD.97-117), contains photographs of people and places to which Jordan traveled and later wrote about, including Athens, Mississippi, Nicaragua, and Italy. The photographs of Athens, where she traveled with Laura Flanders, document the couple's holiday and contain a number of photographs of Jordan alone. The photographs of Italy depict the period Jordan lived abroad as a recipient of the Prix de Rome (1970). They include informal portraits of Sicilian social activist Danilo Dolci, twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and recipient of the Lenin Peace Prize. The majority of the images depict unidentified men, women, and children. Jordan took some of the photographs and collected many from other photographers; because they are quotidian in nature most will remain uncataloged. The photographs of Mississippi document Jordan's research on Fannie Lou Hamer, land reform, and rural development. This subseries also includes a number of photographs (most by Jordan) documenting the people, military presence, and devastation to the landscape in Lebanon, where she traveled in 1996 with "Mother Courage," a humanitarian endeavor sponsored by MADRE. The subseries is arranged by place.
Subseries J, Catch-all and oversized, 1971-1997, n.d. (#PD.119-PD.122f+), contains photographs found in folders throughout the collection; reference copies were placed in the folders in which they were found to mark their original locations.
Jordan attended public schools in Brooklyn, including John Marshall Junior High School and Midwood High School, until 1950, when she entered the Northfield School for Girls, a Protestant finishing school in Massachusetts. Immersed in a predominantly white, middle-class atmosphere, she developed a heightened awareness of her identity as an African American. She graduated from Northfield in 1953 at age sixteen, and entered Barnard College as a music major. At Northfield, Jordan read poetry voraciously and began to develop her aptitude for writing; after a short time at Barnard, she changed her major to English.
As an undergraduate at Barnard (1953-1955), she met Michael Meyer (a white student at Columbia University). The couple married in 1955 and moved to Chicago, where Meyer pursued graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Chicago. Jordan enrolled in the University of Chicago but within a year returned to New York and re-entered Barnard for a semester. She withdrew following the birth of her son (and only child), Christopher David, in 1958. She later enrolled in Hunter College (1962), but facing responsibilities of motherhood, left the college before completing her degree. While Jordan's long-distance marriage continued for several years, her correspondence indicates that the distance strained the relationship well before the couple filed for divorce in 1964 (finalized in 1965).
In the midst of her separation and shortly after she withdrew from college, Jordan became an assistant to producer Fred Wiseman on his film, The Cool World, directed by Shirley Clarke. Dedicated to urban development, in 1964 she collaborated with R. Buckminster Fuller on an architectural re-design of Harlem. She also worked as a research associate and writer for the Mobilization for Youth, Inc., on the lower East Side of Manhattan.
Initially, Jordan worked as a freelance writer to supplement her income. In the late 1960s, she wrote both fiction and nonfiction, and began reading her poetry at paid engagements arranged by the American Academy of Poets. At the same time, Jordan embarked on her pedagogical career, working as a lecturer and adjunct faculty member at several institutions, including Connecticut College (1968), and the City College of New York, where she taught in the Seek Education, Elevation and Knowledge [SEEK] English Program (1967-1970, 1972-1975, 1977-1978). She also served as writer-participant for the Teachers-Writers Collaborative Program, Columbia University. Her affiliation with Fuller inspired her and opened several doors. With Fuller's support, Jordan received an award for creative writing from the Rockefeller Foundation (1969), as well as a Prix de Rome in Environmental Design (1970).
While she retained an interest in urban planning and development, by the early 1970s Jordan concentrated her efforts more fully on writing and teaching, using her talents to address issues of discrimination based on race and gender, as well other politically controversial issues. Through her writing she gave a voice to groups and individuals who may have felt too intimidated or downtrodden to speak for themselves. An advocate of children's education, she became an outspoken champion of Black English. The idea, popularized in the late 1960s and early 1970s by linguist William A. Stewart, identified significant similarities in African American articulation, such as zero copula (no verb) that transcended geographic location. He proposed that this difference be respected and treated as a distinct language, not dismissed as dialect. Throughout her life Jordan advocated teaching Black English, not only as a means of teaching black children to read, but as a method for African American writers to develop identity and voice. She wrote children's poems and books in Black English, including her first novel, His Own Where. This children's book, a project conceived by Milton Meltzer, featured poetry alongside visual art depicting African Americans throughout United States history. Initially, Langston Hughes served as the book's poet; upon his untimely death, Meltzer asked Jordan to assume the role. Her involvement in this prominent, critically acclaimed project helped establish her as a significant, upcoming African American writer and poet.
Early in her career, Jordan wrote and produced several other children's books while continuing adjunct work at various colleges. She taught "Literature and Social Change" at Sarah Lawrence College (1971-1975), and various courses in English and African American studies at Yale University (1974-1975) and Macalester College (Visiting Poet, 1980), before accepting a tenured position at SUNY Stony Brook (1978-1989). Additionally, she taught at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (Visiting Professor in African American Studies, 1988). In 1988 she accepted a joint appointment as Professor of African American Studies and Women's Studies at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB).
At UCB, Jordan led an especially popular course in African American studies, "The Teaching and Writing of Poetry," which developed into a program called "Poetry for the People." Graduates who completed the course became "Student Teachers of Poetry" and conducted workshops at various community groups in the Berkeley area. In the fall of 1995, Jordan collaborated with an Oakland (California) community organization, La Peña Cultural Center, to institute a pilot program with students of Berkeley High School. Their success spawned workshops in area schools, congregations, and correctional facilities. She also collaborated with Janice Mirikitani, San Francisco's poet laureate (2000) and executive director of Glide Memorial Church. Poetry for the People received a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund grant (1995-1998) and Routledge Press published an anthology, June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint (1995).
During her tenure at UCB, Jordan wrote and published prolifically. Her essays appeared regularly in mainstream publications such as Essence and Ms., and she wrote a regular column (
Just Inside the Door) for The Progressive magazine (1989-2001). In the 1980s and 1990s, Jordan's writings continued to address themes of discrimination, equality, and economic and social disparities caused by race and gender; they also highlighted global poverty, religious intolerance, American foreign policy (especially in Nicaragua and the Persian Gulf) and minority rights. An outspoken bisexual, Jordan increasingly championed the rights of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Over the course of her career she received many honors, including but not limited to: C.A.P.S. grant in poetry (1978), Yaddo Fellowship (1979), NEA grant in Creative Writing (1982), National Association of Black Journalists Achievement Award (1984), Massachusetts Council for the Arts Award for Contemporary Arts (1985), Playwright-in-Residence of the New Dramatists in New York City (1987-1988), PEN American Center's Freedom to Write Award (1991), the Barnard Distinguished Alumnae Award (1997), and the Lifetime Achievement Award (1998). In the last years of her life, Jordan devoted herself to writing and teaching at UCB; she continued to speak out against injustice until her death from breast cancer in Berkeley, California, in 2002.
- Series I. Biographical, 1967-2002 (#1.1-3.7, 109.16, E.1)
- Series II. Personal, 1936-2002 (scattered) (#3.8-11.2)
- Series III. Correspondence with Family and Long-Term Partners, 1936-2002 (scattered), 1976-2002 (bulk) (#11.3-20.1, 109.17)
- Series IV. Personal Correspondence, 1952-2002 (#21.1-45.6, 109.18-109.20)
- Series V. Books, 1967-2001 (#45.7-55.4)
- Series VI. Addresses and Speeches, 1968-2002 (#55.5-58.22)
- Series VII. Articles and Essays, 1954 -2001 (#58.23-63.3)
- Series VIII. Poetry, 1954-2001 (#63.4-67.7)
- Series IX. Musical Collaborations, 1972-2001 (#67.8-73.5)
- Series X. Plays, 1979-1989, n.d. (#73.6-74.9)
- Series XI. Other Writings, 1953-2000, n.d. (#74.10-74.11)
- Series XII. Teaching and Academic Work, 1967-1999 (#76.12-78.2)
- Series XIII. Teaching And Professional Work, University of California, Berkeley, 1988-2002 (#78.3-82.9)
- Series XIV. Professional Work, Publishing, 1964-2001 (#82.10-85.10)
- Series XV. Professional Work, General, 1967-2002 (#86.1-103.1)
- Series XVI. Speaking Engagements and Appearances, 1969-2001 (#103.2-105.5)
- Series XVII. Subject Files, Collected Ephemera, and Writings by Others, 1964-2002 (#105.6-109.12)
- Series XVIII. Oversized, 1968-2002 (#FD.1-FD.2, #F+D.1-F+D.7, #OD.1-OD.4, #SD.1-SD.2)
- Series XIX. Photographs, 1936-2002, n.d. (#PD.1-PD-PD.122f+)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers of June Jordan were purchased from the June Jordan Literary Estate in 2003 with the generous assistance of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University.
Accession number: MC 513
Processed by: Marilyn Morgan
The following items have been removed from the collection and transferred to the Schlesinger Library book collection:
- Art Against Apartheid: Works for Freedom. New York: IKON, Inc., 1986.
- Castillo, Ana. Women Are Not Roses. Houston, Texas: Arte Publico Press, 1984.
- Clark, LaVerne Harrell. The Face of Poetry, Arlington: Gallimaufry, 1976.
- Edwards, Audrey. Essence: 25 Years of Celebrating Black Women. New York: 1995.
- Evaristo, Bernardine. The Emperor’s Babe: A Novel. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2001.
- Howe, Florence. No More Masks: An Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Women Poet. New York: Harper Collins, 1993. Inscribed by author.
- Jordan, June, ed. Soulscript: A Collection of African American Poetry. New York: Zenith Books, 1970.
- Jordan, June. Civil Wars. New York: Touchstone, 1995.
- Koolish, Lynda. African American Writers: Portraits and Visions. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2001.
- Mathis, Sharon Bell. Listen for the Fig Tree. New York: Viking Press, 1974. Inscribed by author.
- Merriam, Eve. A Husband's Notes about Her. New York: Collier Books, 1975. Inscribed by author.
- Muller, Lauren, ed. June Jordan’s Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint. New York: Routledge, 1995
- Mary Lawrence, ed. Mother and Child: 100 Works of Art with Commentaries by More than 100 Distinguished People. New York: Crowell, 1975.
- Lester, James D., ed. Daughters of the Revolution: Classic Essays by Women. Lincolnwood, Illinois: NTC Publishing Group, 1995.
- The New Woman's Survival Sourcebook. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1975. Inscribed by Adrienne Rich.
- O’Donnell, Mabel. If I Were Going; illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Evanston, IL: Row, Peterson, 1936. Inscribed by Jordan.
- Poetry for the People: What Now? Berkeley, California: Poetry for the People Press, 1991.
- Rexroth, Kenneth, ed alt., Women Poets of Japan. New York: New Directions Pub. Corp., 1982.
- Rose, Sharon, et al. Bisexual Horizons: Politics, Histories, Lives. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1996.
- Salkey, Andrew. In the Hills Where Her Dreams Live: Poems for Chile, 1973-1978. Sausalito, California: The Black Scholar Press, 1981.
- Women's International Resource Exchange (WIRE). Women in the Rebel Tradition: The English-Speaking Caribbean. 1987
- Bible, revised standard version, 1952.
- Bontemps, Arna, ed. American Negro Poetry: An Anthology. NY: Hill and Wang, 1974.
- Gillan, Maria Mazziotti, alt. ed. Unsettling America: An Anthology of Contemporary Multicultural Poetry. New York: Penguin, 1984.
- Graham, Hugh Davis, et al. Violence in America: Historical and Comparative Perspectives. New York: Bantam Books, 1969.
- Handal, Nathalie, ed. The Poetry of Arab Women: A Comparative Anthology. New York: Interlink Publishing Group, 2001.
- Hass, Robert, ed. The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson, and Issa. Hopewell, New Jersey: The Echo Press, 1994.
- Hutchinson, Thomas. The Complete Poetical Works of Percy Bysshe Shelley. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.
- Randall, Dudley. More to Remember: Poems of Four Decades. Chicago: Third World Press, 1971.
- Rich, Adrienne. Poems: Selected and New 1950-1974. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1967.
- Smith, Huston. The World's Religions: Completely revised and updated. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1991.
- Tapscott, Stephen, ed. Twentieth-century Latin American Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology. Austin: Univesity of Texas Press, 1996.
- Wallace, Michele. Black Macho and the Myth of SuperWoman. New York: The Dial Press, 1979.
- Wang, L. Ling-chi, alt. ed. Chinese American Poetry: An Anthology. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1991.
- Whitman, Walt. The Complete Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman as Prepared by Him for the Deathbed Edition. With and Introduction by Malcom Cowley. Garden City, New York: Garden City Books, 1954.
- Yuan-zhong, alt. ed. 300 Tang Poems: A New Translation. Hong Kong: The Commercial Press, 1996.
By: Marilyn Morgan
By: Marilyn Morgan
- African American families
- African American poets
- African American women
- African Americans--Politics and government
- African Americans--Social conditions--20th century
- American literature--20th century
- American literature--Women authors
- American poetry review
- American poetry--20th century
- American poetry--African American authors
- American poetry--Study and teaching (Higher)--California--Berkeley
- Apartheid and society
- Authors and publishers--United States
- Bedford-Stuyvesant (New York, N.Y.)--Social conditions
- Berkeley (Calif.)--Social conditions
- Bisexual women--Identity
- Bisexual women--United States
- Black English
- Children's writings
- City planning--New York (State)--New York Metropolitan Area
- Electronic records
- Feminism and higher education
- Feminism and higher education--California--Berkeley
- Feminism--Study and teaching--United States
- Feminist poetry
- Lebanon--Description and travel
- Lebanon--Economic conditions--1990-
- Lesbianism--Literary collections
- Love poetry, American
- Mississippi -- Social conditions
- New York (N.Y.)--Social conditions
- Nicaragua--Social conditions
- Performance art--United States--20th century
- Persian Gulf War, 1991
- Poetry--Societies, etc.
- Poets, American--Family relationships--20th century
- Political activists--United States
- Racism--Study and teaching--United States
- Racism--United States
- Sexism--United States
- South Africa--Social conditions
- United States--Foreign relations
- United States--Politics and government--1981-1989
- United States--Politics and government--1989-
- United States--Race relations
- United States--Social conditions--1980-
- Web sites
- Women and literature--United States
- Women poets
- Women political activists--United States
- Women--Central America
- Women--United States--Social conditions
- Jordan, June, 1936-2002. Papers of June Jordan, 1936-2002 (inclusive), 1954-2002 (bulk): A Finding Aid.
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- This collection has been processed through the generosity of Susan Fales-Hill in memory of her mother, Josephine Premice Fales, and in honor of her father, Captain Timothy Fales.
- EAD ID
Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository
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