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Rich, Adrienne, 1929-2012. Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999: A Finding Aid

Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: 84-M141--99-M136
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Title: Papers of Adrienne Rich, 1927-1999
Date(s): 1927-1999
Quantity: 10.63 linear feet (10 cartons, 1 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 3 folio folders, 2 folio+ folders, 3 oversize folders, 1 supersize folder, 1 oversize volume, 1 photograph folder, 8 slides, 4 audiotapes, 1 phonograph record)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Papers of Adrienne Cecile Rich, poet, author, feminist, and teacher.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Accession numbers: 84-M141, 85-M99, 86-M77, 86-M229, 89-M68, 90-M44, 91-M174, 92-M184, 93-M8, 93-M160, 94-M12, 94-M182, 99-M61, 99-M73, 99-M136
The papers of Adrienne Rich were given to the Schlesinger Library by Adrienne Rich in August 1984, between April 1990 and October 1992, in December 1994, and August 1999. Dead matter for Rich's books was given to the library by her publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, between May 1985 and April 1989 and between January 1993 and December 1994. Listening copies of audiotapes were made at the Media Production Center, Harvard University in April and May 1999. Audiovisual material and closed portions of accession #99-M136 were not included in this finding aid.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 1999
By: Glynn Edwards


Access. Unrestricted with the following exceptions: folders #47v-48v, 96, 111, 113, 119-120, 121-123, 129-133, 135, 140, 144a, 296a, 400, 402a-403, 407, 410, 416, 419, 425 are closed to research until January 1, 2050; folders #43, 67, 97-108, and 124-125 are closed until January 1, 2020. In March 2011, Adrienne Rich opened some previously closed items, and lengthened closures for others. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in these unpublished papers is held by Adrienne Rich's literary trust. Upon the termination of the literary trust, all right, title, and interest, including copyright and all extension and renewals thereof, in and to her unpublished papers in the collection will be transferred and assigned to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute. Copyright in some papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Unpublished material in open folders may only be copied with the written permission of Pablo Conrad, literary trustee. Published material only may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

Adrienne Rich Papers, 1927-1999; item description, dates. 84-M141--99-M136, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

Related Material:

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


Donors: Adrienne Rich, W.W. Norton Publishing Co.
Accession numbers: 84-M141--99-M73
Processed by: Glynn Edwards
The following items have been removed from the collection:


Adrienne Cecile Rich, poet, author, feminist, and teacher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on May 16, 1929, the daughter of Helen (Jones) and Arnold Rice Rich. She attended the Roland Park Country School in Baltimore, Maryland (1938-1947). A 1951 graduate of Radcliffe College, in that year she won the Yale Younger Poets Award with the publication of her first book, A Change of World. Following her studies at Oxford University (winter 1952-1953), she traveled through Europe. The following decade saw her marriage to Harvard economist Alfred Haskell Conrad (June 26, 1953), the birth of three sons, David (born 1955), Paul (born 1957), and Jacob (born 1959), and the appearance of a second book of verse, The Diamond Cutters and Other Poems (Harper & Row, 1955). In 1966, the Conrad family moved from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to New York, New York.
Rich is the author of eleven books of poetry including Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law (Harper & Row, 1963), Necessities of Life (Norton, 1966), Leaflets (Norton, 1969), The Will to Change (Norton, 1971), Diving into the Wreck (Norton, 1973), Poems: Selected and New, 1950-1974 (Norton, 1975), A Wild Patience Has Taken Me Thus Far (1981), The Fact of a Doorframe (Norton, 1984), Dark Fields of the Republic (Norton, 1995), Midnight Salvage: poems, 1995-1998 (Norton, 1999), and four books of prose, Of Woman Born: Motherhood as Experience and Institution (1976), and On Lies, Secrets and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978. Diving into the Wreck won the National Book Award in 1974. Protesting the lack of women recipients, Rich rejected the award as an individual and accepted it in conjunction with the other nominees, Audre Lorde and Alice Walker, in the name of all women. Her writings have been translated into German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, and Japanese. She was also the editor, with Michelle Cliff, of Sinister Wisdom (1981-1983).
Rich has taught writing and women's studies at Swarthmore College (visiting poet, 1966-1968), Columbia University (1967-1969), the City College of New York (lecturing in the Seek Education, Elevation and Knowledge [SEEK] English Program, 1968-1972, 1974-1975), Brandeis University (Fannie Hurst Visiting Professor of Creative Literature, 1972-1973), Douglass College, Rutgers University (1975-1979), Cornell University (1981-1987), Scripps College (1983-1984), San Jose State (1984-1985), Stanford University (1986-1993), and University of Chicago (1989). She has also lectured on feminism at conferences and universities in the United States, Japan, France, and Great Britain.
The recipient of Guggenheim fellowships (1952, 1953 and again 1961-1962), Rich also received a Bollingen Foundation grant for translation of Dutch poetry (1962), the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship (1963), a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters (1961), an NEA grant (1970), an Alumnae Recognition Award at Radcliffe's centennial (1979), and numerous other awards for poetry. In 1997, she turned down the National Medal for the Arts.
For more complete accounts of her life, see Contemporary Authors (first revision, volumes 9-12, 1974), World Authors: 1950-1970 (1975), Alone with America (196-) by Richard Howard, Five Temperments (1977) by David Kalstone, An American Triptych: Anne Bradstreet, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich (1984) by Wendy Martin, Writing Beyond the Ending (1985) by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, The Aesthetics of Power: The Poetry of Adrienne Rich (1986) by Claire Keyes, and Who's Who of American Women (1999). For a more complete list, see Biographical and Genealogical Master Index.


The collection is arranged in five series:


This collection includes poems, stories, and plays written by Rich as a child; typescripts of later poems, essays, and translations; papers written by Rich while attending Radcliffe College and at Oxford; diaries, commonplace books, account books, etc.; correspondence with parents, friends, publishers, and other writers; published reviews by Rich; typescripts and galleys from W.W. Norton & Co; book reviews of Rich's works; drafts of speeches; material re: Rich's readings; and files concerning her teaching and workshops. Papers documenting her involvement in the women's movement cover such topics as international feminism, feminist publishing, motherhood, violence against women, women in prison, etc. There are pamphlets and issues of poetry magazines containing poems by Rich or poems by other writers with inscriptions to her, audiotapes of readings and interviews.
Closed and open materials are numbered in one sequence but boxed separately. (See the Box List immediately following the scope and content section.) Unpublished materials in open folders may not be photocopied without permission. Folder headings appearing in quotation marks are Rich's; the rest have been added by processor. In March 2011, Rich reviewed the papers and opened some previously closed items, while lengthening the closure on others. In 1979, Rich donated some papers to the Lesbian Herstory Archives in New York, New York. They contain galley proofs for books that are not in this collection, including Snapshots, Nightwatch, Necessities of Life, Leaflets, etc.; research notebooks for Of Woman Born; etc. (see # 1 for complete list).
There is some overlap among the various series. Transcriptions by Rich of passages she read will be found both in the commonplace books (#50v-53) as well as the Notebooks (#63-68). Material concerning her time at Oxford will be found both in the notebooks as well as in a folder of essays (#69). Material about awards and honorary degrees is filed in Series I, although related material can be found in general correspondence in Series II (#129-135). While correspondence can be found throughout the collection, most is grouped in Series II and is closed, except that with her book publishers. There are few photographs in the collection and those that exist are scattered throughout.
Series I, Biographical and personal (#1-88), is organized into the following main groups: Interviews, Childhood writings; Diaries; Commonplace books (or "reading notebooks" as Rich called them); Radcliffe papers; Notebooks; Account books; and Awards, certificates, etc. Interviews consist of published and unpublished articles, pamphlets, and an audiotape; childhood writings is a loose term that covers a wide assortment of AR's early works and includes drawings, poems, plays, music composition books, etc. Rich kept two different types of diaries; the pre-printed diaries that usually cover one calendar year and a journal-entry style. The two types often overlap.
Series II, Correspondence (#89-171), is divided loosely into the following sections: Family, filed chronologically; letters to Sumner Powell, a former fiance; Alphabetical, mainly with friends and other writers; Publishers, which is arranged chronologically, Magazines, Women's publications; and Response mail, which contains letters re: Rich's writing from fans.
Series III, Published writings (#172-351v), is divided into three major sections: Published works by Rich, Critical works re: Rich's poetry, and poetry by others. Published works consists mainly of pamphlets, small press volumes and periodicals containing Rich's poetry and prose. The latter are filed alphabetically by name of periodical. Pamphlets or volumes containing Rich's prose are filed chronologically. This first section also contains a small group of foreign volumes containing (or about) Rich's work.
The largest section under published works are the folders of Norton's "dead matter" (#222-276, commonly referred to as foul matter). A fairly complete set of publishing states for two of her books has been retained; see Atlas, #251-255, and What is Found There, #267-276 (neither of these sets contain "paste-ups" or "blues"). States of "blues" or "paste-ups," which generally contain no manuscript alterations or only minor copyediting marks, have been discarded. Samples of "paste-ups" exist for Fact of a Doorframe (see #225); of "blues" for Fact of a Doorframe (#229), Your Native Land (#246), and Time's Power (#249). Also discarded were photocopies of various states with no manuscript or copyediting alterations. Pages of later states, such as "master sets," with no manuscript alterations, or very minor copyediting marks only were also discarded. In these instances, pages with manuscript revisions were kept and a note placed in the appropriate folder stating that some pages were discarded. What Norton refers to as "master sets" are prints or copies made from the "paste-ups."
Re: Rich's poetry contains periodicals, pamphlets, two unpublished theses, articles and reviews. The last section, Poetry by others, consists mostly of small press volumes, periodicals of poetry and prose, most of which are inscribed by the author to Rich.
Series IV, Readings, speeches, workshops, teaching (#352-425), is divided into three sections: Speeches and lectures contains typescript drafts of speeches; Readings contains audiotapes, a phonograph record, scrapbook, pamphlets, itineraries, and a series of flyers and posters; Teaching and workshops arranged chronologically by school, contains, lecture notes, reading assignments, course descriptions, and readers. Student biographies, correspondence and grades are closed.
Folder titles in Series V, Subject files (#426-449), such as grassroots feminism and women in prison, are arranged alphabetically by subject, primarily using AR's headings, and contain clippings, flyers, mailings.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Account books
American literature-- 20th century
American literature--Women authors
Authors and publishers
College teachers
Commonplace books
Family violence
Female offenders--United States
Feminism--International cooperation
Feminist economics
Feminist literature
Feminist literature--Book reviews
Feminist poetry
Feminist poetry--Book reviews
Feminist theory
Galley proofs
Homosexuality and literature
Jewish women--United States
Jews -- United States--Periodicals
Lecture Notes
Lesbianism--Literary collections
Lesbians--United States
Lesbians' writings--Book reviews
Lesbians' writings--Periodicals
Motion pictures and women
Racism--United States
Peace movements
Poets, American
Publishers and publishing--United States
Sex discrimination against women
United States--Race relations
Violence--United States
Voyages and travels
Wife abuse
Women--Central America
Women--Crimes against
Women--International cooperation
Women poets
Women political activists--United States
Women prisoners--United States
Women--United States--Economic conditions
Women's periodicals, American
Women's rights
Women's studies--United States
Atwood, Margaret, 1939-
Aiken, Conrad, 1889-1973
Atlas, James
Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973
Bambara, Toni Cade
Bell, Vanessa, 1879-1961
Berenson, Bernard, 1865-1959
Berryman, John, 1914-1972
Bishop, Elizabeth, 1911-1979
Brand, Dionne, 1953-
Brighma, John
Brown, Laura
Brownmiller, Susan
Burgess, Anthony, 1917-1993
Carruth, Hayden, 1921-2008
Carter, Aiko
Cliff, Michelle
Condee, Nancy
Cooper, Jane, 1924-2007
Dahlen, Beverly
Davison, Peter, 1928-
Douglas, Alfred Bruce, Lord, 1870-1945
Eshleman, Clayton
Faissler, Margareta, 1902-1990
FitzGerald, Robert David, 1902-
Goodman, Mitchell
Gorbanevskaia, Natalʹia
Gravelle, Barbara
Griffin, Joanna
Griffin, Susan
Gunn, Thom. LinkDuncan, Robert, 1919-1988
Hall, Donald, 1928-
Hamilton, Edith, 1867-1963
Hansberry, Lorraine, 1930-1965
H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), 1886-1961
Heilbrun, Carolyn G., 1926-2003
Howard, Richard, 1929-
Howe, Irving
Hughes, Ted, 1930-1998
Ignatow, David, 1914-1997
Jennings, Elizabeth, 1926-2001
Kunitz, Stanley, 1905-2006
Lamb, Emerson
Leontief, Estelle
Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997
Litewka, Jack
Lorde, Audre
Lowell, Robert, 1917-1977
Mayes, Frances
Meredith, William, 1919-
Merwin, W. S. (William Stanley), 1927-
Moyers, Bill D.
Mueller, Lisel
New Jewish Agenda (Organization)
Olsen, Tillie
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970
Powell, Sumner Chilton, 1924-
Radcliffe College--Alumni and alumnae
Radcliffe College--Students
Rich family
Richards, I. A. (Ivor Armstrong), 1893-1979
Rorem, Ned, 1923-
Rubin, Eleanor, 1940-
Saint-John Perse, 1887-1975
Seidman, Hugh, 1940-
Sexton, Anne
Sontag, Susan, 1933-2004
Stanford, Ann
Sweeney, John L.
Swenson, May
Vaux, Mollie
Wakoski, Diane
Waldrop, Keith
Warren, Robert Penn, 1905-1989
Wilbur, Richard, 1921-
Wright, James Arlington, 1927-1980