Guide to the Miriam Patchen Papers

Processed by UCSC OAC Unit
The University Library
Special Collections and Archives
University Library
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, California, 95064
© October 2004
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the Miriam Patchen Papers

Collection number: MS 161

The University Library

Special Collections and Archives

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

Contact Information:

  • Special Collections and Archives
  • University Library
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Santa Cruz, California, 95064
  • Email:
  • URL:
Processed by:
Date Completed:
Encoded by:
© 2004 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Miriam Patchen papers
Date (inclusive): 1930-2000
Date (bulk): (bulk 1972-2000)
Collection number: MS 161
Creator: Patchen, Miriam
Extent: 4 boxes
Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This collection contains biographical material, correspondence, photographs, musical scores, audio recordings, a film and an artifact, documenting Miriam Patchen's promotion of her late husband's work.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Language: English

Administrative Information


Collection open for research

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred Citation

Miriam Patchen papers. MS 161. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Acquisition Information

Acquired 1975-2000


Miriam Patchen, wife of American novelist and poet Kenneth Patchen, peace activist, and longtime Palo Alto resident, died March 6, 2000 at the age of 86.
Born Sirkka Miriam Oikemus in Belmont, Massachusetts in September 28, 1914, Miriam, like her Finnish socialist parents, became a lifelong political activist. She joined the American Communist Party at age 7 and claimed to be the "youngest card-carrying member" of this party.
She met Kenneth Patchen in 1933 and in June of 1934, they married. The Patchens moved to New York in 1935, where Kenneth's first book, Before the Brave, was published the following year. For the next thirty eight years of their marriage and through the creation of more than forty works of poetry and prose all dedicated "For Miriam", she was Patchen's "Muse" and complete partner in all the successes and hardships of their lives.
After the loss of her husband, Miriam diligently continued to campaign for poetry and for peace. She stood together with her later partner, the civil-rights activist, Laurent Franz on the corner of El Camino Real and Embarcadero Roadevery for 15 years holding a picket sign protesting American military intervention around the world. She was active in promoting her husband's poetry by taking part in readings and exhibits of Kenneth's work across the US and abroad; "Kenneth Patchen Literary Festival" held at the poet's home town Warren, Ohio between 1987-1989, the "Word, Image and Rhythms: a celebration of Kenneth Patchen" in London, 1998, and an exhibition of Patchen's silkscreen prints in Centro Studi Americani in Rome, 1999 etc. For the last two years of her life Miriam assisted Larry Smith on the biography, Kenneth Patchen: rebel poet in America. She was also featured in a documentary Miriam Is Not Amused, directed by Kim Roberts in 1998.
People who knew Miriam remember her as a woman of compassion, intelligence and wit, and one who was devoted to her causes and friends.

Scope and Content of Collection

Miriam Patchen papers are arranged into seven series; biographical material, correspondence, photographs, musical scores, audio recordings, film and artifact. Bulk of the material covers her local and international activities from 1972-2000 to promote her late husband's, literary work. Her activities included attending poetry readings, granting permissions to exhibit and publish Patchen's literary works, and establishing of Kenneth Patchen archive at UCSC Special Collections in 1975 and the further collaborative efforts with the institution.
The only items dating back to pre-1972 era are a memoir about Miriam's first meeting with Patchen, the courtship, and early years of marriage, and a handful of family photographs from 1920's-1950's. The largest series, biographical material and correspondence, includes more than half of the total content.

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


Patchen, Miriam--Archives.
Authors, American--20th century.
Poets, American--20th century.

Genres and Forms of Materials

Audio recordings

Other Index Terms Related to this Collection

Williams, Jonathan
Patchen, Kenneth--1911-1972--Kenneth Patchen archive

Related Material

The Kenneth Patchen Archive at UCSC includes the following related collections:
Collections in other institutions:

Collection Contents

Box-folder 1:1-18, 3:3

Biographical material 1972-2000

Physical Description: 19 folders, 1 notebook

Series Scope and Content Summary

Biographical Material consists of papers relating to the death of Miriam Patchen, clippings about Miriam, and promotional material documenting some of her domestic and international efforts to foster her late husband's work. These items are arranged chronologically. Included are Miriam's memoirs of the early years with Kenneth Patchen.
Box-folder 1:1

Obituaries (20 pp) 2000

Box-folder 1:2

Miriam's Memorial service invitation and program May 21, 2000

Box-folder 1:3


Box-folder 1:4

Will April 2000

Box-folder 1:5

Laurent Frantz (1913-1998) papers; memorial program, article "Congressional Power to Enforce the 14th Amendment against private acts", and a clipping

Box-folder 1:6

City Lights Books royalty statements 1974

Box-folder 1:7

Work Inspired by Patchen: 1. "Beyond love there is no belief" by Marie Burton (6" x 7 1/2"); 2. "Miriam in her garden", by Barbara Gordon Paine (5" x 6")

Box-folder 1:8

Clippings about Miriam (13 pp) 1973-1997

Box 3

Memoirs 1933-1941; 22 manuscript pages of autobiographical account of Mirian's and Kenneth's early years together covering their first meeting in Boston Nov 13, 1933-Dec 14, 1941

Box-folder 1:9-18

Promotional activity post-Patchen; publicity, clippings, flyers etc. 1973-1996

Box-folder 1:9, 3:3

Group Theater Company performance "Hallelujah Anyway"; tour pamphlets and posters

Scope and Content Note

Note:In collaboration with Miriam Patchen, the group assembled the art and writings of Kenneth Patchen into two hour long production incorporating painted poem visuals, poetry-jazz, and a dramatic performance of selection from Patchen's poetry and prose
Box-folder 3:3

Kenneth Patchen Memorial, City Lights Poets' Theater; poster Feb 1972

Box-folder 1:10

San Francisco Art Institute Jan 12-Feb 11, 1973

Box-folder 1:11

KPFA; program calendar of Miriam interview/Patchen readings 1973-1974

Box-folder 1:12

University of North Dakota; exhibit catalog, publicity Mar 18-Apr 5, 1974

Box-folder 1:13

Smithsonian Institution "The Art of Poetry"; exhibit catalog Nov 1976-Jan 1977

Box-folder 1:14

Publication of "Argument of Innocence" by Peter Veres; book reviews 1978

Box-folder 1:15

San Jose College Art Gallery "Kenneth Patchen Graphic works"; poster and blank invitation Nov 30-Dec 15, 1982

Box-folder 3:3

Friends of the Patchens and Intersection "For Kenneth", poetry reading on the 10th year of Patchen's death; press release sheet, flyer, poster Jan 26, 1982

Box-folder 1:16

Documenta, Kessel, Germany, "Maler, Dichter, Pazifist, Visionar"; exhibit catalog 1983

Box-folder 1:17

Patchen Festival, Warren Ohio; exhibit catalog, clippings 1987-1990

Box 3

Warmth In The Human Winter: selected love and picture poems of Kenneth Patchen. Rain Press, San Francisco. Canvas cover hand painted by Charles Maden. This copy 1 of 75. (6 1/5" x 9 1/4") 1991

Box-folder 1:18

Misc clippings and publicity 1975-1996

Box-folder 1:19-2:23, 3:4-5

Correspondence 1972-1998

Physical Description: 35 folders

Series Scope and Content Summary

This series is organized into two subseries:
  • Outgoing correspondence, 1972-1998.
  • Incoming correspondence, 1972-1987.
Box-folder 1:19-1:29

Outgoing correspondence 1972-1998

Physical Description: 10 folders

Series Scope and Content Summary

This subseries is organized by correspondent. Bulk of the it documents the establishment of the Kenneth Patchen Archive at UCSC and subsequent events that were administered by the University in collaboration with Miriam. In addition this series includes a detailed book list of Patchen's personal library as compiled by Miriam. Other letters of interest are Miriam's draft response to Anais Nin after reading of a false statement in a newspaper article, and replies to William Packard and Fred Wright.
Box-folder 1:19

City Lights Books; APCS Oct 31, 1989

Box-folder 1:19

Alan CLODD; draft Apr 29, 1977

Box-folder 1:20

Mr. KIRSCH; ALS [an account of Folkways recordings of Fables] Sep 7, 1978

Box-folder 1:21

Richard MORGAN; APC Aug 4, [1970's]

Box-folder 1:22

Anais NIN; draft "will you kindly stop your carrion...", [+ two clippings 1. "Anais Nin to give lecture", Palo Alto Times, Feb 4, 1972, 2. Miriam's corrective announcement "Studio sharing story false", (p. 23) in response to earlier statement by Nin] Palo Alto Times Feb 8, 1972

Box-folder 1:23

William PACKARD; 2 APCS and 2 ALS 1973-1975

Box-folder 1:24

Larry SMITH; Draft [Apr, 1978]

Box-folder 1:25-28

UCSC 1973-1998

Box-folder 1:25

David HERON, University Librarian; 5 ALS and 2 APCS 1974-1992

Box-folder 1:26

Lan DYSON, University Librarian; 2 ALS 1980 1998

Box-folder 1:27-28

Rita BOTTOMS, Head of Special Collections; 18 ALS, 15 APCS, and 18 envelopes 1973-1998

Box-folder 1:29

Fred WRIGHT; 4 ALS, APCS, 3 Christmas cards, 5 envelopes 1978-1980

Box-folder 2:1-23, 3:4-5

Incoming correspondence 1972-1989

Physical Description: 25 folders

Series Scope and Content Summary

This subseries is organized by correspondent. Of interest are letters send by Patchen biographers and critics James Schevill, Larry Smith, Peter Veres, and Richard Morgan. Presented in smaller amounts are letters from David Bedford and Jonathan Williams.
Box-folder 2:1

Marc ADRIAN (artist); 2 TLS [in regard to Documenta exhibit] 1986-1987

Scope and Content Note

Note: see also incoming letter from Dr. Nordhoff, Box 2:15
Box-folder 2:2

David BEDFORD (composer); 2 ALS 1977 1980

Box-folder 2:3

Paul BOBB; ALS [attached with Memoirs, see box 3] Jul 6, 1933

Box-folder 3:4

Gene DETRO; TLS + clipping "Patchen: A Fine Poet's Final Testament", and "Extensions", signed copy of booklet of poems by Detro Aug 26, 1972

Box-folder 2:4

Robert DUNKIN; ALS + clippings [Condemns Harold Norse comments about Kenneth Patchen] Nov 28, 1975

Box-folder 2:5

Lissa FISHER; 4 ALS and APCS 1977 1980

Scope and Content Note

Note: see also incoming letters from Richard Morgan, Box 2:13
Box-folder 2:6

Gotham Book Mart and Gallery Inc.; TLS + 17 Polaroid shots of the Silkscreen and Painted Book Exhibit [see Box 3] Sep 16, 1982

Box-folder 2:7

Henry W. HOUGH; TLS and a note Jan 1972

Box-folder 2:8-9

Karl KEMPTON, (Kaldron, Rainbow Resin Press); TLS + serial issues of Kaldron, no. 2-6 (Jan 1977- summer 1978), NRG no.5 (1977) and signature pages from Western Poetry Review; features Kempton's typoglifs 1977-1978

Box-folder 2:10

Kent State University, Robert Bertholf; 2 TLS Apr-Jul 1975

Box-folder 2:11

Marie MADURA; TLS Apr 4, 1973

Box-folder 2:12

Hugo MANNING; 2 ALS and typescirpt copy "Kenneth Patchen of Love" 1973 1977

Box-folder 3:5

Jack H. MOONING (Seminar Council, Montgomery); TLS + photocopies of Patchen poems with marginalia by him (4 pp) May 7, 1972

Box-folder 2:13

Richard MORGAN; 30 TLS, 22 ALS, APCS, and Fwd letter from Morgan to Joel Climenhaga 1973-1980

Scope and Content Note

Note: see also incoming letters from Lissa Fisher, Box 2:5
Box-folder 2:14

Bob NEWTON; TLS, + signed copy of 40% to the Trade (1972) Oct 23, 1972

Box-folder 2:15

Dr. NORDHOFF (Culture Adviser, City of Kassel, Germany); TLS, [in regards to Documenta Exhibit, see also Incoming corresp. Marc Adrian] Mar 18, 1987

Scope and Content Note

Note: see also incoming letter from Marc Adrian, Box 2:1
Box-folder 2:16

James SCHEVILL; TLS + typescript copy "Kenneth Patchen: The Search for Wonder and Joy" by Schevill (22 pp) May 1, [1973]

Box-folder 2:17

The Scrimshaw Press; 3 TLS, 2 fwd letters, an invoice, book reviews and advertisements to The Argument of Innocence (12 pp) 1976-1977

Box-folder 2:18

Larry SMITH; 2 TLS + clipping "Lake Erie Reflections", Reporter Apr 1974

Box-folder 2:19

Peter VERES; 2 TLS Nov-Dec, 1974

Box-folder 2:20

Jack WILLIAMS; TLS + portrait of Mr. Williams, promotional material for "With This Rose, I Thee Wake", dramatization of Kenneth Patchen's poetry presented by the Ensemble Theatre Company of Nasville at the Academy Theatre, Jan 1974. Music by Jack Eric Williams, script by C. B. Anderson and Karen Connell Hold. Feb 6, 1974

Box-folder 2:21

Jonathan WILLIAMS; 3 TPCS 1980-1984

Box-folder 2:22

Misc. incoming correspondence, A-Z; 8 TLS, 4 ALS, 2 newsletter, [includes TLS from William Packard, Jan 24, 1972] 1972-1989

Box-folder 2:23

Fragments (1 pg)

Box-folder 3:6

Scores 1972-1978

Physical Description: 1 folder

Series Scope and Content Summary

Consists of two scores signed to Miriam; a manuscript and a published work by David Bedford
Box-folder 3:6

An Easy Decision: for soprano and piano. David Bedford. UE 16034. Universal Edition: London. Text based on KP's "When we were here together". Signed copy ""Miriam with love and respect, Christmas 1980"; [Attached with Dec 2, 1980 letter from Bedford; see also Box 2:2] 1978

Box-folder 3:6

Wide Wide In the Rose's Side: for soprano, organ, 3 violins, 4 trombones. David Bedford. Feb 1-2, 1972; manuscript, signed copy

Box-folder 3:1-2

Photographs 1930s-1990s

Physical Description: 54 photographs

Series Scope and Content Summary

Arranged by size and by type. Bulk of the photos date to 1970s-1980s. Included are snap shots of Miriam as a child, her mother Sirkka Oikemus, companion Laurent Frantz, and formal portraits of Miriam.
Box-folder 3:2

8 1/2" x 12" (6 sheets in color); Miriam and Laurent under a billboard "For Miriam, The Sea Is Awash With Roses", and visiting Special Collections, UCSC [ca. 1990's]

Box-folder 3:2

8" x 10" (black and white); Portrait of Miriam and Mr. Sitwell [Patchen's black cat], unknown photographer, [ca. 1950]

Box-folder 3:2

8" x 8" (black and white): 4 Interior shots of Patchen's Palo Alto home with Miriam, unknown photographer [after 1972]

Box-folder 3:2

5" x 7":

Box-folder 3:2

Miriam, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Rita Bottoms in London (color) 1998

Box-folder 3:2

Miriam and Laurent Frantz protesting. Miriam is holding a sign "After NAFTA Clinton/Gore/Eshew - Your Silence = Death for Mexicans" (color) [ca. 1990]

Box-folder 3:2

Portrait of Miriam, head shot (black and white) [ca. 1930]

Box-folder 3:1

4" x 7":

Box-folder 3:1

Polaroids (18); Silkscreen and painted book exhibit, Gotham Book Mart (17) [attached with Incoming Sep 16, 1982 letter from Gotham], and Miriam and James Schevill at UCSC Special Collections (1) May 1, 1985

Box-folder 3:1

Color (13); includes snap shots of Miriam and her mother Sirkka Oikemus, and Laurent Frantz [1970s-1980s]

Box-folder 3:1

Black and white (9); includes snap shots of Miriam as a child (2), Miriam with Lars and her mother Sirkka Oikemus, and Miriam at a book signing of What Shall We Do Without Us [1920s]-1984

Box 4

Audio recordings 1982-1984

Physical Description: 6 cassette tapes

Series Scope and Content Summary

Consists of a recording of speeches given by Miriam Patchen and James Laughlin at UCSC Special Collections, Nov 14, 1984; and an interview "Miriam at Home" taped on Mar 10, 1982.
Box 4

Film 1977

Physical Description: 1 reel

Series Scope and Content Summary

Consists of one 16 mm color film titled Hidden Tears, directed by Eli Eliezer, 1977. The screenplay is based on Patchen's poem Do the dead know what time it is?
Restricted access; FRAGILE.
Box 4

Artifact 1990

Physical Description: 1 item

Series Scope and Content Summary

Contains burgandy colored "Kenneth Patchen Coffee Shop" apron (size M), worn by Miriam at Kenneth Patchen Festival, Warren, Ohio, April 1990; included is a photocopied photograph of Miriam standing next to Fred Wright and wearing this apron.