Finding Aid to the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, 1917-2000, bulk 1950-1989

Finding Aid written by Jennifer Davis
The Bancroft Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California, 94720-6000
Phone: (510) 642-6481
Fax: (510) 642-7589
© 2006
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Finding Aid to the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, 1917-2000, bulk 1950-1989

Collection Number: BANC MSS 2001/83 z

The Bancroft Library

University of California, Berkeley

Berkeley, California
Finding Aid Written By:
Jennifer Davis
Date Completed:
October 2006
© 2006 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Collection Summary

Collection Title: Gwendolyn Brooks papers
Date (inclusive): 1917-2000,
Date (bulk): bulk 1950-1989
Collection Number: BANC MSS 2001/83 z
Creator: Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917-2000
Extent: Number of containers: 15 cartons, 1 box, 3 oversize boxes Linear feet: 23.75 linear ft.
Repository: The Bancroft Library
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: The Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, 1917-2000 (bulk 1950-1989), document her personal life and career as a distinguished poet, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Poet Laureate of Illinois. The papers are divided into seven series: Correspondence, Writings, Professional Papers, Personal Papers, Clippings, Writings by Others, and Miscellaneous and consist of correspondence, manuscripts, flyers, announcements, scrapbooks, family papers, clippings, writings by others, and miscellaneous materials.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.

Information for Researchers


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must obtained from the copyright owner. See: Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, BANC MSS 2001/83 z, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

Alternate Forms Available

There are no alternate forms of this collection.

Related Collections

Gwendolyn Brooks photograph collection, BANC PIC 2001.201--PIC

Separated Material

Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library. Photographs have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library. Objects have been transferred to the Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Brooks, Gwendolyn, 1917--Archives
University of Chicago
City Colleges of Chicago
African American women poets--20th century
American poetry--20th century--African American authors
American poets--20th century
African American women poets--Illinois--Chicago
African American poets--20th century
African Americans--Illinois--Chicago
Arts, American--Illinois--Chicago--20th century
Chicago (Ill.)--In literature
Blakely, Henry
Blakely, Nora Brooks
Brooks, Keziah C

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Gwendolyn Brooks Papers were purchased by The Bancroft Library in October 2000.


No additions are expected.

Processing Information

Processed by Dean Smith and Jennifer Davis; completed in 2006.

Biographical Information

At the age of thirty-three, Gwendolyn Brooks became the first African American to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Her legacy as one of the most influential poets of the Twentieth Century endures. Richard Wright, an early advocate of Brooks, once said that her poetry captured "the pathos of petty destinies, the whimper of the wounded, the tiny incidents that plague the lives of the desperately poor, and the problems of common prejudice" (Watkins, 2000, The New York Times).
Brooks was born on June 7, 1917 in Topeka Kansas. Shortly after her birth, Brooks's parents, David and Keziah Brooks, relocated the family to South Side Chicago. She remained in South Side until her death. At a very early age, Brooks began to write poetry. When she was thirteen years old her first poem was published in the American Childhood Magazine. At a crucial point in her creative development, Brooks met Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson, both of whom encouraged her poetry writing. She was educated at several white, black, and integrated high schools in Chicago. During her school years, Brooks prolifically published her poems, largely as a regular contributor to the "Lights and Shadows" poetry column of the Chicago Defender. In 1936, Brooks graduated from Wilson Junior College.
In 1938, Brooks and Henry Blakely were married. Their first child, Henry Jr., was born in 1940 and their daughter Nora was born in 1951. During this period, Brooks began to win critical acclaim for her poetry. She won the 1943 Midwestern Writer's Conference Poetry Award. Shortly thereafter, A Street in Bronzeville, her first book of poetry, was published by Harper and Row (1945). The instant critical acclaim this book received was followed by her first Guggenheim Fellowship award and a nomination to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1950, her second published collection, Annie Allen, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
Brooks went on to publish additional books of poetry, a novel, an autobiography, essays, reviews, speeches, and a play. Following her Pulitzer Prize, she issued Maud Martha (1953), a novel that was praised by reviewers but did not gain wide readership. Bronzeville Boys and Girls (1956) a collection of children's poetry, The Bean Eaters (1960), and Selected Poems (1963) followed the novel. One of her most popular volumes of poetry, We Real Cool, was released in 1966. With Broadside Press, a small black publisher founded by poet Dudley Randall, Brooks published Riot (1969), Family Pictures (1970), and her autobiography, Report from Part One (1972).
Ms. Brooks's teaching career began at Columbia College in Chicago in 1963. Over the course of her career, she taught creative writing at many different institutions including: Northeastern Illinois State College, Elmhurst College, Columbia University, City College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
In 1967, Brooks became involved in the Black Arts movement while attending the Fisk University Writers Conference in Nashville. At this point, she dropped her publisher Harper and Row to work with smaller publishing houses. While her poems always addressed social issues, her writing became markedly more concerned with the black experience in the 1960s.
Brooks succeeded Carl Sandburg as poet laureate of Illinois in 1968 and remained in this post until her death. Her dedication to this role and to bringing poetry to the people of Illinois was deep. Brooks gave many public readings and was an active visitor to Chicago schools and prisons. Her poetry workshops and contests for young people were meant to inspire and teach children that poetry can be a part of every day life.
Over the course of her career, Brooks received many honors. In 1976, she became the first black woman to be elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. The Library of Congress invited her to serve as poetry consultant in 1985. In 1994, the National Endowment for the Humanities named her its Jefferson Lecturer, the government's highest honor for achievement in the humanities. Brooks received honorary doctorate degrees from over 50 colleges and universities in recognition of her contribution to literature.
Brooks died in her home in Chicago on December 3, 2000.

Bibliography of Works by Gwendolyn Brooks

A Street in Bronzeville. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1945.
Annie Allen. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1949.
Maud Martha. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953.
Bronzeville Boys and Girls. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1956.
The Bean Eaters. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1960.
Selected Poems. New York: Harper & Row, 1963.
We Real Cool. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1966.
The Wall. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1967.
In the Mecca. New York: Harper & Row, 1968.
Riot. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1969.
Family Pictures. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1970. Aloneness. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971.
The World of Gwendolyn Brooks. New York: Harper & Row, 1971. Black Steel: Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971.
A Broadside Treasury. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971.
Jump Bad. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1971.
Report from Part One. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1972.
The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves, or What You Really Are, You Really Are. Chicago: Third World Press, 1974.
Beckonings. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1975.
Primer for Blacks. Chicago: Black Position Press, 1980.
To Disembark. Chicago: Third World Press, 1981.
Young Poets Primer. Chicago: Brooks Press, 1981.
Mayor Harold Washington and Chicago, the I Will City. Chicago: Brooks Press, 1983. Very Young Poets. Chicago: Third World Press, 1983.
Blacks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987.
Gottschalk and the Grande Tarantelle . Chicago, The David Company, 1988.
Winnie. Chicago: The David Company, 1988.

Published Works on Gwendolyn Brooks

Bloom, Harold. Gwendolyn Brooks. Philadelphia: Chelsea House Publishers, 2005.
Bolden, B. J. Urban Rage in Bronzeville: Social Commentary in the Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, 1945-1960. Chicago: Third World Press, 1999.
Gayles, Gloria W. Conversations with Gwendolyn Brooks. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2003.
Hill, Christine M. Gwendolyn Brooks: "poetry is life distilled." Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2005.
Kent, George E. A Life of Gwendolyn Brooks. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1990.
Madhubuti, Haki R., ed. Say That the River Turns: The Impact of Gwendolyn Brooks. Chicago: Third World Press, 1987.
Melhem, D. H. Gwendolyn Brooks: Poetry and the Heroic Voice. Lexington: UP of Kentucky, 1987.
Miller, R. Baxter. Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K.Hall, 1978.
Mootry, Maria K., and Smith, Gary. A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fiction. Urbana: UP of Illinois, 1987.
Shaw, Harry B. Gwendolyn Brooks. Boston: Twayne, 1980.
Wright, Stephen Caldwell. The Chicago Collective: Poems for and Inspired by Gwendolyn Brooks. Sanford, Florida: Christopher-Burghardt, 1990.
Wright, Stephen Caldwell. On Gwendolyn Brooks: Reliant Contemplation. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 1996.

Scope and Content of Collection

The Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, 1917-2000 (bulk 1950-1989), document her personal life and career as a distinguished poet, Pulitzer Prize winner, and Poet Laureate of Illinois. The papers are divided into seven series: Correspondence, Writings, Professional Papers, Personal Papers, Clippings, Writings by Others, and Miscellaneous and consist of correspondence, manuscripts, flyers, announcements, scrapbooks, family papers, clippings, writings by others, and miscellaneous materials.
Correspondence, Series 1, includes letters and greeting cards from family, friends, and literary colleagues. The letters illuminate her involvement in the literary community; correspondents include Houston A. Baker, Jack Conroy, Paul Engle, Etheridge Knight, Don Lee (Haki Madhubuti), and Dudley Randall.
Writings, Series 2, include poems, essays, reviews, and notes in manuscript and typescript form. Essays reflect Brooks's concerns with subjects such as black writers and the craft of poetry. The collection also contains some handwritten notes, a Langston Hughes memorial written by Brooks, and several articles about her writing.
Professional Papers, Series 3, include awards, honors, posters, and flyers announcing readings by Brooks as well as correspondence relating to speaking engagements. The personal papers, Series 4, include records, miscellany, and family papers of her mother Keziah Brooks, husband Henry Blakely, and daughter Nora Blakely.
Clippings, Series 5, Brooks's success as a poet, teacher, and speaker is well documented in the clippings files in addition to her interest in Black rights, writing and writers, Chicago, and many other subjects.
Writings by Others, Series 6, includes publications that she collected in manuscript and published form written by poets, writers, school children, and prisoners. The final series, Series 7, Miscellaneous, includes diverse published materials and ephemera that Brooks collected from individuals and organizations.

Container List


Series 1 Correspondence 1941-1989

Physical Description: Cartons 1-2; Carton 14


Arranged into three subseries: 1.1 Family Correspondence, 1.2 General Correspondence, and 1.3 Greeting Cards.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of incoming and outgoing correspondence with family, friends, and colleagues.

1.1 Family Correspondence 1950-1989

Physical Description: Carton 1, folders 1-17


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes correspondence and greeting cards to and from family members: Keziah C. Brooks, mother; Henry Blakely, husband; Henry Blakely, Jr., son; Nora Blakely, daughter; Raymond Brooks, brother; Robert B. Brooks, uncle; Beulah Wims, aunt; Aunt Ella; Aunt Eppie; and Aunt Lizzie. Correspondence to Brooks's mother, Keziah, includes postcards from the author and letters from Brooks's daughter, Nora. Letters to Henry present a view of his involvement in the Chicago writing community; he was regularly invited to local writing events and received invitations to write reviews for literary magazines. The correspondence to and from Brooks's children, Henry Jr. and Nora, include greeting cards, letters, Henry Jr.'s wedding invitation, and documentation regarding his enlistment in the Marine Corps.
Carton 1, Folder 1

Brooks, Gwendolyn, outgoing 1976-1984, undated

Carton 1, Folder 2

Brooks, Keziah Wims, outgoing 1961-1972, undated

Carton 1, Folder 3

Brooks, Keziah Wims, incoming 1959-1977, undated

Carton 1, Folder 4

Blakely, Henry, incoming undated

Carton 1, Folder 5

Blakely, Henry / From Others 1975-1989

Carton 1, Folder 6

Blakely, Henry Jr. 1961-1982, undated

Carton 1, Folder 7

Blakely, Nora, outgoing 1967, 1976, undated

Carton 1, Folder 8

Blakely, Nora, incoming [1955]-1980

Carton 1, Folder 9

Blakely, Nora, school correspondence 1952-1968, undated

Carton 1, Folder 10

Brooks, Raymond Sr. 1973-1974, undated

Carton 1, Folder 11

Brooks, Robert 1960-1961

Carton 1, Folder 12

Beulah Wims 1970-1980, undated

Carton 1, Folder 13

Aunt Ella 1950-1960, undated

Carton 1, Folder 14

Aunt Eppie 1950

Carton 1, Folder 15

Aunt Lizzie undated

Carton 1, Folder 16-17

Greeting Cards undated


1.2 General Correspondence 1941-1989

Physical Description: Carton 1, folders 18-61; Carton 2


Arranged alphabetically by surname with A to Z miscellaneous files, fan mail, and prison correspondence filed at the end of the subseries.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of correspondence of both personal and professional nature documenting Brooks's involvement in the writing community, the impact she had on school children and prisoners, her commitment to the rights of her fellow African Americans, and her dedication to her role as a poet. Included are letters from literary colleagues including Johari Amini, Bruce Bennett Brown, Jack Conroy, Don Lee, and Dudley Randall. Professional correspondence consists of letters from the Chicago Sun, The Guggenheim Foundation, Brooks's publisher Harper and Row, and more. Editorial letters from Brooks's publisher at Harper and Row, Elizabeth Lawrence, are of particular interest. Correspondence and clippings from the many magazines that published Brooks's poems are also included. Brooks was regularly in touch with influential members of the writing community including: Paul Engle of the Iowa Writer's workshop; Alice Browning, founder of the International Black Writer's Conference; Hoyt Fuller, publisher of the magazines Negro Digest and Black World; and Dudley Randall, poet and founder of Broadside Press, which, in addition to Brooks's work, published the writings of Don Lee, Nikki Giovanni, Etheridge Knight, and many other prominent black writers. Also included within the general correspondence files are materials relating to Brooks's involvement in the black community and black rights. There is a Langston Hughes photograph and memorial service announcement from the DuSable Museum of African American History. A telegram from Reverend Jesse Jackson pleads with Brooks to contribute "to the uplifting of the black people." Many files contain clippings, poetry written by the correspondent, and various other materials. At the end of the General Correspondence series, miscellaneous A to Z files include letters from African American organizations, universities, Illinois and Chicago schools, libraries, and many other groups and individuals. The series concludes with a collection of fan mail, letters from school children, prisoner correspondence, and solicitations. This material illustrates the deep effect that Brooks's poems and readings had on her audiences.
Carton 1, Folder 18

Amini, Johari 1980

Carton 1, Folder 19

Baker, Houston A. Jr. 1980

Carton 1, Folder 20

Bragg, Robert H. 1943-1944

Carton 1, Folder 21

Brown, Abena Joan 1976-1981

Carton 1, Folder 22

Brown, Bruce Bennett 1966-1972

Carton 1, Folder 23

Browning, Alice C. 1979-1981, undated

Carton 1, Folder 24

Chicago Daily News 1950-1958, undated

Carton 1, Folder 25

Chicago Sun-Times 1961-1976, undated

Carton 1, Folder 26

Chicago Tribune 1961-1980

Carton 1, Folder 27

Cisneros, Sandra 1980-1984

Carton 1, Folder 28

Conroy, Jack 1955-1962

Carton 1, Folder 29

DuSable Museum of African American History 1967-1980, undated

Carton 1, Folder 30

Edward B. Marks Music Corporation 1962

Carton 1, Folder 31

Elgin, Robert 1956-1957

Carton 1, Folder 32

Engle, Paul 1949-1987

Carton 1, Folder 33

Fuller, Hoyt W. 1964-1981

Carton 1, Folder 34-38

Harper & Row Publishers 1944-1983

Carton 1, Folder 39

Hirsch High School 1956-1958

Carton 1, Folder 40

Holiday (Magazine) 1950-1951

Carton 1, Folder 41

Jaffe, Daniel Freeman 1971, undated

Carton 1, Folder 42

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 1958-1968

Carton 1, Folder 43

Kawadza, Wanda 1980

Carton 1, Folder 44

Kendrick, Dolores 1968-1981

Carton 1, Folder 45

Knight, Etheridge 1968, undated

Carton 1, Folder 46

Library of Congress 1969-1981

Carton 1, Folder 47

McCall's 1971-1972

Carton 1, Folder 48

Madhubuti, Haki R. (Don L. Lee) 1968-1989, undated

Carton 1, Folder 49

Melhelm, D.H. 1971-1980

Carton 1, Folder 50

Merrill, Ernest S. 1970-1974, undated

Carton 1, Folder 51

Metropolitan Community Church 1965-1980, undated

Carton 1, Folder 52

Mills, Paul 1950-1952

Carton 1, Folder 53

Pierce, Edith Lovejoy 1948-1976

Carton 1, Folder 54

Poetry (Magazine) 1950-1969, undated

Carton 1, Folder 55

Randall, Dudley 1968-1981, undated

Carton 1, Folder 56

Randall, Dudley / Broadside Press 1969-1975, undated

Carton 1, Folder 57

Roseliep, Raymond 1967-1971

Carton 1, Folder 58

Roslyn Targ Literary Agency, Inc. 1941-1982

Carton 1, Folder 59

Stroman, Prilla 1980, undated

Carton 1, Folder 60

University of Wisconsin, Madison 1968-1972, undated

Carton 1, Folder 61

Whitfield, Vantile 1978-1979, undated

Carton 2, Folder 1

A Miscellaneous 1950-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 2

Ba-Be Miscellaneous 1956-1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 3

Bi-Bu Miscellaneous 1952-1988, undated

Carton 2, Folder 4

C Miscellaneous 1951-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 5

D Miscellaneous 1944-1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 6

E Miscellaneous 1962-1967, undated

Carton 2, Folder 7

F Miscellaneous 1952-1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 8

G Miscellaneous 1955-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 9

H Miscellaneous 1958-1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 10

I Miscellaneous 1965-1981

Carton 2, Folder 11

J Miscellaneous 1951-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 12

K Miscellaneous 1950-1982, undated

Carton 2, Folder 13

L Miscellaneous 1958-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 14

M Miscellaneous 1958-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 15

N Miscellaneous 1950-1982, undated

Carton 2, Folder 16

O Miscellaneous 1968-1978, undated

Carton 2, Folder 17

P Miscellaneous 1959-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 18

Q Miscellaneous 1968, 1979

Carton 2, Folder 19

R Miscellaneous 1955-1989, undated

Carton 2, Folder 20

Sa-Sm Miscellaneous 1950-1984, undated

Carton 2, Folder 21

So-Sw Miscellaneous 1950-1989, undated

Carton 2, Folder 22

T Miscellaneous 1952-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 23

U-V Miscellaneous 1950-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 24

W Miscellaneous 1950-1988, undated

Carton 2, Folder 25

Y-Z Miscellaneous 1957, undated

Carton 2, Folder 26

No surname 1949-1981, undated

Carton 2, Folder 27

No surname - Portia 1970-1972

Carton 2, Folder 28

Unidentified 1941, 1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 29-32

Fan mail 1950-1989, undated

Carton 2, Folder 33

Letters from school children - on We Real Cool 1972, 1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 34

Letters from school children - Overbrook Elementary, Philadelphia, PA 1972

Carton 2, Folder 35-37

Letters from school children - miscellaneous 1969-1988, undated

Carton 2, Folder 38

Prisoner correspondence 1970-1980, undated

Carton 2, Folder 39

Solicitations 1958, undated


1.3 Greeting Cards 1950-1989

Physical Description: Carton 14


Arranged alphabetically by occasion.

Scope and Content Note

Includes greeting cards received from family, friends, and other correspondents, many of whom are represented in the General Correspondence series. A bulk of the sympathy cards were received upon the death of Brooks's mother in March, 1978. Note that some greeting cards contain full letters, although the bulk are simply signed.
Carton 14, Folder 1

Birthday 1974-1980, undated

Carton 14, Folder 2-13

Christmas 1950-1984, undated

Carton 14, Folder 14

Get Well 1982, undated

Carton 14, Folder 15

Mother's Day undated

Carton 14, Folder 16-17

Sympathy 1978

Carton 14, Folder 18-20

Other 1951-1989, undated


Series 2 Writings 1933-1989

Physical Description: Carton 3; Oversize Boxes 1, 2


Further divided into six subseries: 1.1 Poetry, 1.2 Essays, 1.3 Plays and Screenplays, 1.4 Speeches, 1.5 Reviews, and 1.6 Miscellaneous.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of manuscripts, typescripts, notes, notebooks, and correspondence.

2.1 Poetry 1933-1989

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 1-31; Oversize Box 2, folder 5


Arranged alphabetically; miscellaneous fragments filed at the end of the subseries.

Scope and Content Note

Contains poems by Brooks in manuscript and typescript, and published as reprints and bookmarks. Also included is a notebook entitled A Critique in Rhyme that Brooks composed at the age of 16, which contains a school writing assignment entirely in rhyme. There are also book jackets for Bronzeville Boys and Girls and Gottschalk and the Grande Tarantelle. The series concludes with a collection of typescript poems that represent over twenty years of writing, and a full galley proof of Brooks's In the Mecca.
Carton 3, Folder 1

Astonishment of Heart circa 1968

Carton 3, Folder 2

Books Feed and Cure and Chortle and Collide 1969

Carton 3, Folder 3

Brooke Maj of Hawthorn South undated

Carton 3, Folder 4

Children of the Poor undated

Carton 3, Folder 5

Computer undated

Carton 3, Folder 6

A Critique in Rhyme circa 1933

Carton 3, Folder 7

Election Night Returns 1986 October 30

Carton 3, Folder 8

Essential Black Women undated

Carton 3, Folder 9

The Explorer, Harper's Magazine 1959

Carton 3, Folder 10

A Farmer undated

Carton 3, Folder 11

For the Unveiling of the Chicago Picasso 1967

Carton 3, Folder 12

In Honor of Edgar Blakely: Our Friend 1980 December 26

Carton 3, Folder 13

Instruction to Myself 1989

Carton 3, Folder 14

Look at these faces, these scenes. 1967 September 17

Carton 3, Folder 15

My Democratic Donkey undated

Carton 3, Folder 16

Raymond Brooks [Memorial Poem] 1974

Carton 3, Folder 17

Riot 1968 April 8

Carton 3, Folder 18

The Sight of the Horizon: A Centennial Poem 1963 May 1-2

Carton 3, Folder 19

Sky undated

Carton 3, Folder 20

Something Needs Tending 1988 October 24

Carton 3, Folder 21

The Tiger Who Wore White Gloves undated

Carton 3, Folder 22

To Henry Jr. circa 1945-1946

Carton 3, Folder 23

To the Young who Want to Die undated

Carton 3, Folder 24

Two Poems - Gay Chaps at the Bar, Poetry: a Magazine in Verse 1944

Carton 3, Folder 25

The Wall 1986 August 18

Carton 3, Folder 26

The Way Is 1986 August 25

Carton 3, Folder 27

When the Children Ask 1986 August

Carton 3, Folder 28

The Poetry of Black America - Contents List undated

Carton 3, Folder 29

Bronzeville Boys and Girls - Book Jacket circa 1967

Carton 3, Folder 30

Gottschalk and the Grande Tarantelle - Book Jacket circa 1988

Carton 3, Folder 31

Collected Poems undated

Oversize Box 2, Folder 5

In the Mecca - Galley Proof 1968


2.2 Essays 1938-1980

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 32-37; Oversize Box 1, folder 1


Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content Note

Essays, in both manuscript and typescript, address subjects such as being a black writer and how to be a good poet. Also included is an essay on Inez Cunningham Stark, the Chicago writer and scholar who ran one of the first poetry workshops to which Brooks belonged; the full 1951 issue of Holiday Magazine in which They Call it Bronzeville appeared; and the manuscript of the Young Poets Primer, her writing manual for young people.
Carton 3, Folder 32

Gladys the Gladiolus undated

Carton 3, Folder 33

Has it Been Hard, Miss Brooks? undated

Carton 3, Folder 34

How I Think Poetry Should be Written 1938 September 11

Carton 3, Folder 35

Inez Cunningham Stark undated

Carton 3, Folder 36

Young Poet's Primer 1980

Carton 3, Folder 37

Young Poet's Primer - Introduction 1980

Oversize Box 1, Folder 1

They Call it Bronzeville, Holiday Magazine 1951


2.3 Plays and Screenplays [1968], 1975

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 38-39


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes typescripts with author annotations for the only play written by Brooks, A Tale of a Far Tomorrow and the poem adapted for the screen, The Sundays of Satin Legs Smith.
Carton 3, Folder 38

A Tale of a Far Tomorrow [1968]

Carton 3, Folder 39

The Sundays of Satin-Legs Smith 1975


2.4 Speeches 1968-1987, undated

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 40-49


Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes speeches in manuscript and typescript form, honoring influential writers (including Don Lee and her biographer George E. Kent); discussing education of children about poetry; giving advice to women writers and new graduates. Several eulogies are also included. At the end of the series are several untitled speeches.
Carton 3, Folder 40

Art and Blackness undated

Carton 3, Folder 41

Building Future Leaders undated

Carton 3, Folder 42

For Lisa Steinberg undated

Carton 3, Folder 43

George Kent undated

Carton 3, Folder 44

Introduction for Don Lee undated

Carton 3, Folder 45

Poetry and the Education of Children 1987

Carton 3, Folder 46

A Response to the Theme: Causes for Optimism 1973 February 21

Carton 3, Folder 47

Woman as Writer undated

Carton 3, Folder 48

Untitled [ Poetry is life distilled] 1968

Carton 3, Folder 49

Untitled [ On the Difficult Conditions in the Bishop College] undated


2.5 Reviews 1966, undated

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 50-53


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Included are several reviews by Brooks on poetry collections, correspondence with newspaper staff, and her manuscript notes on review work.
Carton 3, Folder 50

Raymond Roseliep 1966 January 12

Carton 3, Folder 51

Book Week 1964-1966

Carton 3, Folder 52

Simple, Honest Poems of Richard Wilbur undated

Carton 3, Folder 53

Notes undated


2.6 Miscellaneous Writings 1966-1987, undated

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 54-59; Oversize Box 1, folder 2


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Contains drafts of jacket copy, the introduction to Young Poets Primer, a Langston Hughes memorial, and articles about Brooks's writing. Also included here is the musical score by Brooks for We'll Win Again and manuscript notes that include some poems, clippings, and addresses.
Carton 3, Folder 54

Daughter of the Dusk - Jacket Copy undated

Carton 3, Folder 55

On the Death of Langston Hughes 1967

Carton 3, Folder 56

Congratulations! [On winning Poet Laureate award] undated

Carton 3, Folder 57

About Brooks - Articles/Essays about Brooks's Writing 1966-1987

Carton 3, Folder 58-59

Notes undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 2

We'll Win Again - Music and Lyrics undated


Series 3 Professional Papers 1946-1990

Physical Description: Carton 3-4; Oversize Box 1


Further divided into seven subseries: 3.1 Awards and Honors, 3.2 Speaking Engagements, 3.3 Organizations, 3.4 Activities, 3.5 Writing Conferences and Residencies, 3.6 Teaching, and 3.7 Miscellaneous Professional.

Scope and Content Note

Includes correspondence, flyers, programs, and records relating to Brooks's professional career as a poet, teacher, Illinois Poet Laureate, and speaker.

3.1 Awards and Honors 1950-1988

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 60-69; Oversize Box 1, folder 3


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Included are letters, certificates, placards, and flyers from the universities, African American associations, libraries, and organizations that conferred awards and honors upon Brooks. Also included is documentation pertaining to the Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center at Western Illinois University.
Carton 3, Folder 60

National Book Awards, Nominees and Winners 1950-1975

Carton 3, Folder 61

Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture 1977

Carton 3, Folder 62

Columbia College of Chicago 1961-1968

Carton 3, Folder 63

Metal Placards 1965-1979

Carton 3, Folder 64

Honorary Degrees 1967-1980

Carton 3, Folder 65

Honorary Degrees - Western Michigan University 1978

Carton 3, Folder 66

Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center - Western Illinois University 1970-1981, undated

Carton 3, Folder 67

Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center - Annual Report 1973

Carton 3, Folder 68

Gwendolyn Brooks Cultural Center - Reports 1973

Carton 3, Folder 69

Miscellaneous 1957-1988, undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 3

Miscellaneous 1950-1980

Box 1, Item Item 1

National Council of Black Studies Plaque undated


3.2 Speaking Engagements 1950-1989

Physical Description: Carton 3, folders 70-87; Carton 4, folders 1-6; Oversize Box 1, folder 4


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

The speaking engagements subseries documents Brooks's career as a public speaker, and includes invitations to universities, schools, and community organizations, and letters of thanks from the institutions that Brooks visited. Included here also are contracts and correspondence from speaking agencies that represented Ms. Brooks, in particular her agent in the 1970s and 1980s, The Contemporary Forum, which illustrates both the extent of her travels and the amount she was paid for her work. Of particular interest is the collection of her speaking engagement programs, fliers, and press releases. The series concludes with a small amount of financial statements from the organizations that she addressed.
Carton 3, Folders 70-81

Correspondence 1950-1989, undated

Carton 3, Folder 82-87

Contemporary Forum 1972-1987, undated

Carton 4, Folders 1-5

Programs, Press, and Flyers 1951-1989, undated

Carton 4, Folder 6

Financial 1955-1980, undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 4

Flyers 1965-1984


3.3 Organizations 1951-1982

Physical Description: Carton 4, folders 7-16


Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of files relating to the organizations that Brooks was involved with including: the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters; the Carter administration President's Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties; the National Institute of Arts and Letters; the Society of Midland Authors; and the International Black Writer's Conference. Files include correspondence, bylaws, invitations, member lists, and reports.
Carton 4, Folder 7

1020 Club 1957-1959

Carton 4, Folder 8-9

American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters 1976-1982, undated

Carton 4, Folder 10

International Black Writer's Conference 1973-1977, undated

Carton 4, Folder 11

National Institute of Arts and Letters 1976

Carton 4, Folder 12-14

Quality of Life Panel, President's Commission for a National Agenda for the Eighties 1980

Carton 4, Folder 15

Society of Midland Authors 1951-1980

Carton 4, Folder 16

Miscellaneous 1954, undated


3.4 Activities 1963-1990

Physical Description: Carton 4, folders 17-32


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Included are materials documenting professional activities, such as Brooks's service on the advisory committee of the Illinois Arts Council, and her work running a distinguished high school visiting poets program, which includes her invitations to renowned poets. She also led the Illinois Poet Laureate awards, for which she solicited and judged youth and teen entries. Included here as well are correspondence, programs, and poetry contest fliers from the many Chicago-area grade schools, high schools, and colleges that she was connected with, and letters to Brooks requesting scholarship funds and references for fellowship awards.
Carton 4, Folder 17-18

Poet Laureate Awards, Illinois Arts Council 1971-1981

Carton 4, Folder 19-23

Illinois Arts Council 1963-1981, undated

Carton 4, Folder 24-28

Poetry Contests 1963-1990, undated

Carton 4, Folder 29

Gwendolyn Brooks Black Student Awards undated

Carton 4, Folder 30

Writer's Contest, [Clark College, Atlanta, GA] circa 1977

Carton 4, Folder 31-32

Scholarships and Fellowships 1972-1980, undated


3.5 Writing Conferences and Residencies 1968-1979

Physical Description: Carton 4, folders 33-37


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, clippings, programs, and other materials from the writing conferences and residencies that Brooks took part in are found here. Institutions represented include the Fine Arts Work Center, The International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, the Chicago Public Library, the Indiana University Writer's Conference, and the Cumberland Valley Writer's Conference.
Carton 4, Folder 33

Indiana University Writer's Conference 1968, 1971, undated

Carton 4, Folder 34

Miscellaneous Writer's Conferences 1976-1979

Carton 4, Folder 35

Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA 1969-1976, undated

Carton 4, Folder 36

The International Writing Program, University of Iowa 1969

Carton 4, Folder 37

Chicago Public Library - Wild Onion Festival 1977


3.6 Teaching 1966-1981

Physical Description: Carton 4, folders 38-42


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes correspondence and other materials pertaining to Brooks's positions as a visiting professor at several institutions and offers of teaching posts from many universities and colleges.
Carton 4, Folder 38-42

Teaching 1966-1981, undated


3.7 Miscellaneous Professional 1946-1988

Physical Description: Carton 4, folders 43-47


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Included are Harper and Row royalty statements, payment stubs from colleges, newspapers, and publishers, a 1964 version of her resume and a collection of miscellaneous fliers and programs.
Carton 4, Folder 43-44

Royalty Statements and Payment Stubs 1946-1977

Carton 4, Folder 45

Resumes undated

Carton 4, Folder 46-47

Professional Miscellaneous [1964]-1988, undated


Series 4 Personal Papers 1928-1984

Physical Description: Cartons 5-7; Carton 15, folders 1-8; Oversize Box 1; Box 1


Divided into three subseries: 4.1 Personal Miscellany, 4.2 Family Papers, and 4.3 Financial Papers.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of personal notebooks, scrapbooks, announcements, and financial records, and papers of family members.

4.1 Personal Miscellany 1928-1981

Physical Description: Carton 5, folders 1-14; Oversize Box 1, folder 5; Box 1, volume 1


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of Brooks's calendars, a guestbook, legal documents, travel documents, a collection of addresses, her 1928 school report card, and a scrapbook of poetry and clippings that Brooks compiled in the 1930s. Also included within this series are a group of graduation, birth, death, and wedding announcements and invitations from Brooks's friends, acquaintances, and relatives. Another scrapbook contains Brooks's poetry and news clippings as well as an award from the Black Women's League of Madison.
Carton 5, Folder 1-4

Calendars 1961-1976

Carton 5, Folder 5

Guestbook 1976

Carton 5, Folder 6

Legal Documents 1946-1980

Carton 5, Folder 7

Travel Documents 1971, 1977, undated

Carton 5, Folder 8-9

Addresses undated

Carton 5, Folder 10

Report Card - Forestville School, 6th Grade 1928

Carton 5, Folder 11

Poetry Clippings Scrapbook circa 1930s

Carton 5, Folder 12

Announcements - Graduation 1968-1979, undated

Carton 5, Folder 13

Announcements - Receptions, Benefits 1958-1981

Carton 5, Folder 14

Announcements - Wedding, Death, Birth 1958-1980

Oversize 1, Folder 5

Music Scores undated

Box 1, Volume Volume1

Scrapbook 1969


4.2 Family Papers 1929-1984

Physical Description: Carton 5-7


Further divided into three sub-subseries: 4.2.1 Keziah C. Brooks Papers (mother), 4.2.2 Henry Blakely Papers (husband), and 4.2.3 Nora Blakely Papers (daughter).

Scope and Content Note

Consists of personal materials from the members of Brooks's immediate family.

4.2.1 Keziah C. Brooks Papers 1929-1977

Physical Description: Carton 5, folders 16-31; Box 1, volume 2


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes the manuscript and typescript of her writing project, Storiettes, a collection of her notebooks, and correspondence.
Carton 5, Folder 15-19

Storiettes circa 1972-1977, undated

Carton 5, Folder 20-21

Miscellaneous Writings undated

Carton 5, Folder 22-27

Notebooks 1929-1944, undated

Carton 5, Folder 28-31

Miscellaneous 1959-1978, undated

Box 1, Volume Volume 2

Keziah Brooks - Famous Composers scrapbook undated


4.2.2 Henry Blakely Papers 1938-1984

Physical Description: Carton 5, folders 32-37; Carton 6, folders 1-29


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Henry Blakely's active involvement in the writing community is documented through correspondence, a typescript of his published collection of poems, Windy Place, and materials related to his work with various organizations. Student manuscript poems that were composed as part of the Chicago Public Library Writing in Chicago Program that Blakely organized are also included.
Carton 5, Folder 32

Curriculum Vitae undated

Carton 5, Folder 33

Correspondence - miscellaneous 1978-1984

Carton 5, Folder 34-37

Writings 1938-1975, undated

Carton 6, Folder 1-2

Writings 1938-1975, undated

Carton 6, Folder 3-5

Speeches and Appearances 1977-1978, undated

Carton 6, Folder 6-7

Organizations 1978-1984, undated

Carton 6, Folder 8-15

Business Papers 1969-1978, undated

Carton 6, Folder 16-26

Teaching 1976-1979, undated

Carton 6, Folder 27-29

Miscellaneous 1969-1982, undated


4.2.3 Nora Blakely Papers 1968-1983

Physical Description: Cartons 6, folders 30-49; Carton 7, folders 1-33; Oversize Box 1, folders 6-7


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of correspondence, writings, professional, and personal papers. The bulk consists of records of the Anchor Arts Organization for Children, a multidisciplinary arts non-profit group that she founded in 1979; and Rainbow Magazine, a press for (and run by) teens and children which Nora published. Includes magazine issues, newsletters, correspondence, submissions, and financial documents.
Carton 6, Folder 30

Curriculum Vitae undated

Carton 6, Folder 31

Correspondence miscellaneous 1977-1981

Carton 6, Folder 32-38

Writings 1979-1980, undated

Carton 6, Folder 39-49

Organizations, Anchor Arts Organization 1979-1983, undated

Carton 7, Folder 1

Organizations, Anchor Arts Organization Notebook undated

Carton 7, Folder 2-6

Organizations, Kuumba 1973-1981, undated

Carton 7, Folder 7-17

Organizations, Rainbow Magazine 1980-1981, undated

Carton 7, Folder 18-21

Organizations, other 1979-1981, undated

Carton 7, Folder 22-26

Teaching 1972, undated

Carton 7, Folder 27-33

Personal 1968-1981, undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 6

Rainbow Magazine 1981

Oversize Box 1, Folder 7

Miscellaneous 1977


4.3 Financial Papers 1951-1980

Physical Description: Carton 15, Folders 1-8


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of income and earnings statements, bank statements, tax documents, insurance forms, travel related financial documents, and miscellaneous financial records.
Carton 15, Folder 1-7

Financial Papers 1951-1980, undated

Carton 15, Folder 8

Raymond Brooks - Miscellaneous Financial 1953-1956


Series 5 Clippings 1938-1989

Physical Description: Carton 8; Oversize Boxes 2, 3


Divided into two subseries: 5.1 About Gwendolyn Brooks and 5.2 General Clippings

Scope and Content Note

Consists of clippings collected by Brooks, documenting her writing career and various topics of interest.

5.1 About Gwendolyn Brooks 1947-1988

Physical Description: Carton 8, folders 1-6; Oversize Box 2, folders 1-4.


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of over four decades of clippings detailing Brooks's career. Included is Pulitzer Prize publicity, articles announcing honors and tributes in her name, new book and readings announcements, and articles regarding her many activities in Chicago and the surrounding communities.
Carton 8, Folder 1-6

Clippings by decade 1947-1988, undated

Oversize Box 2, Folder 1-4

Clippings by decade 1957-1987, undated


5.2 General Clippings 1938-1989

Physical Description: Carton 8, folders 7-29; Oversize Box 3, folders 2-7.


Arranged by subject and by decade.

Scope and Content Note

Brooks collected a wide array of clippings on many subjects, including: poets and writers, including Pablo Neruda, Anaïs Nin, and Robert Lowell; black leaders; Chicago-related news; and Presidents Carter and Reagan. Many clippings have been annotated by Brooks. Full issues of some newspapers are also included.
Carton 8, Folder 7-29

General Clippings 1938-1989, undated

Oversize Box 3, Folder 2-7

Newspapers circa 1950-1980


Series 6 Writings by Others 1967-1989

Physical Description: Cartons 9-13


Divided into four subseries: 6.1 Individuals, 6.2 Teaching and Workshops, 6.3 Poetry from Schools, and 6.4 Publications by Others

Scope and Content Note

Includes manuscripts, typescripts, correspondence, and publications written by others.

6.1 Individuals 1967-1988

Physical Description: Cartons 9-10; Carton 11, folders 1-11


Arranged alphabetically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of manuscript poems, essays, and creative fiction, many of which appear to have been sent to Brooks for review. Correspondence often accompanies the manuscripts; several files contain the reply that Brooks sent to the author. Files are alphabetized by the writer's surname; anonymous and unidentified writers are found at the end of the series. Closing the series is correspondence requesting manuscript review. Writers include: R. Adair, Paul Alexander, Marion "Tumbleweed" Beach, Maxine Chernoff, Paul R. Harding, Angela Jackson, and James Meehan among others.
Carton 9, Folder 1-58

Authors, A-K 1968-1985, undated

Carton 10, Folder 1-58

Authors, L-Z 1967-1988, undated

Carton 10, Folder 59-61

Authors, Anonymous undated

Carton 11, Folder 1-6

Individuals and Unidentified 1964-1986, undated

Carton 11, Folder 7

Various Authors - Collected Poems 1972, undated

Carton 11, Folder 8

Various Authors - Encyclopedia Britannica 1969

Carton 11, Folder 9-10

Requests for Manuscript Review 1960-1981, undated

Carton 11, Folder 11

Unsolicited Manuscripts 1982


6.2 Teaching and Workshops 1976-1979

Physical Description: Carton 11, folders 12-20


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes manuscripts, typescripts and notes submitted to Brooks from writers and students in The Gwendolyn Brooks Workshop, Brooks's prison courses, and other writing workshops.
Carton 11, Folder 12

Gwendolyn Brooks Workshop - Class Poems undated

Carton 11, Folder 13

Prison Class Writings 1976-1979

Carton 11, Folder 14-20

Student Class work undated


6.3 Poetry from Schools 1968-1989

Physical Description: Carton 11, folders 21-32


Arranged chronologically.

Scope and Content Note

Includes manuscripts, typescripts, and notes that Brooks received from students, documenting Brooks's active career as a visiting poet to Illinois schools.
Carton 11, Folder 21-32

Student Poetry 1968-1989, undated


6.4 Publications by Others 1950-1990

Physical Description: Carton 12-13; Oversize Box 1, folder 10; Oversize Box 3, folder 7


Arranged by subject.

Scope and Content Note

Contains magazines, poetry and literary journals, and chapbooks, arranged into the following subjects: Poetry, Black Publications, Songbooks, Newsletters, Reports, and Miscellaneous. Many publications are either inscribed or dedicated to Brooks.
Carton 12, Folder 1-15

Poetry 1950-1990, undated

Carton 12, Folder 16-24

Black Publications 1965-1981, undated

Carton 13, Folder 1-7

Black Publications 1972-1984

Carton 13, Folder 8-10

General Publications 1977-1982

Carton 13, Folder 11-14

Song Books undated

Carton 13, Folder 15

Newsletters 1965-1987

Carton 13, Folder 16-17

Reports 1950-1980

Carton 13, Folder 18-21

Miscellaneous 1925-1989, undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 9

Chicago Magazine, Charter Issue 1964

Oversize Box 3, Folder 1

Carr, Peter. Bumpers, Bugs, USA 1969


Series 7 Miscellaneous circa 1940-1991

Physical Description: Carton 15, folders 9-17; Oversize Box 1, folders 8-9


Arranged hierarchically.

Scope and Content Note

Consists of materials created by colleges and organizations; articles and newsletters related to black arts and studies and politics; and other miscellaneous items. Includes fliers, brochures, ephemera, pamphlets, and other formats.
Carton 15, Folder 9

Writing 1971-1978, undated

Carton 15, Folder 10

Black Organizations, History, Art 1963-1978, undated

Carton 15, Folder 11

Colleges 1974-1991, undated

Carton 15, Folder 12-13

Organizations 1965-1980, undated

Carton 15, Folder 14

Political undated

Carton 15, Folder 15-16

Ephemera circa 1940s, undated

Carton 15, Folder 17

Miscellany undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 8

Ephemera undated

Oversize Box 1, Folder 10

Martin Luther King Jr. Print undated