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In Association with the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute Schlesinger Acquires June Jordan Papers

Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library, with the generous assistance of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has acquired the papers of June Jordan—a prolific and prize-winning writer of poetry and prose who explored topics ranging from love, self-awareness, and abuse to broader social issues raised by conflicts in Nicaragua, Africa, and the Balkans. The acquisition was announced on Friday, October 2, during the second day of the library's 60th anniversary conferences, "Gender, Race, and Rights in African-American Women's History."

According to Radcliffe Institute Dean Drew Gilpin Faust, "This is a major addition to our collection and to the record of the experience of women in America. I am deeply grateful to Skip Gates and the Du Bois Institute for their partnership in acquiring Jordan's papers."

"June Jordan's papers bring to the Schlesinger Library the record of a writer of prodigious talent and a social activist of deep, compassionate commitment," said Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W. E. B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities and Director of the Du Bois Institute. "We at the Du Bois Institute celebrate the acquisition of this important collection." In recent years, the Du Bois Institute has participated in a number of significant manuscript acquisitions at the Schlesinger and at HCL's Houghton Library. See Exhibition Highlights Collaboration of the W. E. B. du Bois Institute and Houghton Library.

Born in 1936, Jordan was the child of West Indian immigrant parents. In her teens she left home in Brooklyn to attend the Northfield School for Girls in Massachusetts, where she began writing poetry. In 1953, Jordan enrolled at Barnard College, and two years later she married a white student despite general public intolerance for interracial marriages. They divorced in 1965 after having one child. In 1967, she began teaching at the City College of New York, the first of a series of affiliations, including Yale University, Sarah Lawrence College, the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and, ultimately, the University of California at Berkeley.

According to the Schlesinger, Jordan is considered the most published African-American writer to date. She was the author of more than 25 major works. Her books of poetry include the collections Kissing God Goodbye: Poems, 1991-1997 (1997), Haruko/Love Poems (1994), Naming Our Destiny (1989), Living Room: New Poems 1980-1984 (1985), and Things That I Do in the Dark (1981). Her essay collections include Affirmative Acts: Political Essays (1998), June Jordan's Poetry for the People: A Revolutionary Blueprint (1995), Technical Difficulties (1992), and Civil Wars: Selected Essays 1963-1980 (1980). Jordan also wrote the libretto for I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw the Sky (1995), an opera with music by John Adams.

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Last modified on Monday, November 17, 2003.