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Leroi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Baraka, Amiri, 1934-
Title: Leroi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1957-1965
Quantity: 2.5 linear ft.
Abstract: Papers of the African-American author, music critic, novelist, playwright, poet, and social activist. Baraka was also editor of Yugen, a literary magazine, and co-editor, with Diane Di Prima, of The floating bear. Correspondence (1958-1965); Baraka's typescript and published writings, including articles, book manuscripts, book and music reviews, essays, playscripts, and poems; and Yugen records, including manuscripts and page proofs. Yugen manuscripts include those of John Ashbery, Paul Blackburn, Robin Blaser, Bruce Boyd, William Burroughs, Paul Carroll, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Edward Dahlberg, Diane Di Prima, Edward Dorn, Larry Eigner, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, Stephen Jonas, Jack Kerouac, Kenneth Koch, Philip Lamantia, Ron Loewinsohn, Walter Lowenfels, Michael McClure, Edward Marshall, David Meltzer, Frank O'Hara, Charles Olson, Joel Oppenheimer, Stuart Perkoff, Gary Snyder, Gilbert Sorrentino, George Stanley, Philip Whalen, John Wieners, and William Carlos Williams.
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Everett LeRoi Jones was born on October 7, 1934 in Newark, New Jersey, the son of Coyette LeRoi and Anna Russ Jones. In his youth he showed considerable aptitude as a student, graduating from high school two years ahead of his class. Jones received a B.A. from Howard University in 1953, and spent the following two years in the United States Air Force.

Jones then settled in New York City and did graduate work in comparative literature at Columbia. He began to develop his talents as a poet and critic, becoming associated with what was known as the "Beat Generation" in the East Village. There Jones edited Yugen, a magazine of underground poetry, and co-edited a literary newsletter, the Floating Bear. With other poets, including Diane Di Prima, he founded the American Theatre for Poets, an avant garde Village dramatic group, in 1961. Jones read his verse in coffeehouses, and two volumes of his poems, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note and The Dead Lecturer, were published.

After a visit to Cuba in 1960, Jones began to condemn American culture, seeing American blacks as its victims. This theme was elaborated in his book Blues People: Negro Music in White America, published in 1963.

Jones' debut as a professional off-Broadway playwright came in 1964 with Dutchman, a shocking drama of interracial hostility. It ran for nearly a year in New York and was also presented abroad. Two more of his plays presented the following season, The Toilet and The Slave, were less successful.

In the mid-1960's LeRoi Jones wrote The System of Dante's Hell, an autobiographical novel, as well as Home: Social Essays and Tales. In 1965 he moved to Harlem where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre. The following year Jones returned to Newark, N.J. and began "Spirit House", a multi-faceted black cultural workshop similar to his previous program in Harlem. In Newark he founded the Black Community Development and Defense Organization (BCD), a group of men and women dedicated to the "creation of a new value system for the Afro-American community", with stress placed upon elements of African culture. The group is of the Muslim faith and Jones now uses his Muslim name, Ameer Baraka. He has recently written several one-act plays for black audiences, including Slave Ship, Resurrection in Life, Great Goodness for Life (A Coon Show), Arm Yourself or Harm Yourself, and A Recent Killing. Jones occupies a position of political leadership in the black communities of Newark.

Jones' first marriage was to Hettie Cohen, his co-editor of Yugen. They had two children. He now lives at Spirit House with his second wife, Amini, their son, Ras Jua Al Aziz, and Mrs. Baraka's three daughters by a previous marriage.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Leroi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers consist of the personal, literary and publishing records of LeRoi Jones, an American poet, playwright and black separatist leader. The materials have been organized into four sections: Correspondence, Memorabilia, Writings and Yugen magazine records.

Correspondence (box 1), 1958-1965, consists of approximately sixty items, virtually all of which are incoming letters. The letters, which relate to Jones' literary, political and personal concerns, have been sorted chronologically.

Memorabilia (box 1), 1958-1961 contains a calendar, a collage, newspaper clippings, printed matter, publisher's flyers, photographs, programs, and material related to the Casa de las Americas and the Fair Play for Cuba Committee. These materials are organized alphabetically by type. Of particular interest in this series is a portrait print of Jones by New York School artist Larry Rivers, signed by both Rivers and Jones.

Writings (boxes 1-3), 1958-1964, have been organized alphabetically first by author, then by type of work and finally by title. Jones' works include articles, fiction and nonfiction books, book reviews, introductions, music reviews, plays, short stories and verse. The materials are in various stages of draft as well as in the final published versions. Works by several other authors are also present, including reviews of Jones' books by Ralph Ellison and Phillip Roth.

Yugen magazine records (boxes 4-5), 1958-1962, consist of material related to Jones' editing of that magazine. Included here are authors' manuscripts, dummies, page proofs, promotional and published materials. The papers have been organized first by the number of the issue, then by the type of material. The authors' manuscripts, which are copies of verse, plays and prose submitted to Jones by various writers, include items from Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and many other noted writers.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Related Material

See also the Amiri Baraka Collection for material relating to Baraka's (Jones') 1967 arrest in Newark, New Jersey.

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Subject Headings


Ashbery, John, 1927-
Baraka, Amiri, 1934-
Blackburn, Paul.
Blaser, Robin
Boyd, Bruce.
Burroughs, William S., 1914-1997.
Carroll, Paul.
Corso, Gregory.
Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005.
Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977.
Di Prima, Diane.
Dorn, Edward.
Eigner, Larry, 1927-1996.
Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997.
Guest, Barbara.
Jonas, Stephen.
Kerouac, Jack, 1922-1969.
Koch, Kenneth, 1925-2002.
Lamantia, Philip, 1927-2005.
Loewinsohn, Ron
Lowenfels, Walter, 1897-1976.
Marshall, Edward, 1932-
McClure, Michael.
Meltzer, David
O'Hara, Frank, 1926-1966.
Olson, Charles, 1910-1970.
Oppenheimer, Joel.
Perkoff, Stuart Z.
Rivers, Larry, 1925-2002.
Snyder, Gary.
Sorrentino, Gilbert.
Stanley, George, 1934-
Whalen, Philip.
Wieners, John, 1934-2002.
Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.

Associated Titles



African American dramatists.
African American novelists.
African American poets.
African Americans -- Biography.
American literature -- 20th century.
American literature -- African American authors.
American poetry -- 20th century.
Authors, American.
Literature, Experimental.
Muslims, Black -- Biography.
Periodical editors -- United States.
Periodicals -- Publishing -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Manuscripts for publication.
Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Leroi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchased 1966-1971; 2008; 2013.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: FED
Date: 1971
Revision history: 30 Oct 2006 - converted to EAD (AMCon); 13 Mar 2007 - checked against collection, corrected (MRC); 29 Sep 2008 - add Rivers print (MRC)

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Box 1 undated
Box 1 1958-1959
Box 1 1960
Box 1 1961
Box 1 1962
Box 1 1963-1965
April 1965 postcard purchased 2013.
Box 1 Calendar 1963
Box 1 Casa de las Americas 1960-1962
Box 1 Collage undated
Box 1 Fair Play for Cuba Committee 1960
Box 1 Newspaper clippings 1958-1961
Box 1 Photographs ca. 1960
Printed matter
Box 1 "In-Formation," pre-publication issue 1965
Box 1 Portrait print by Larry Rivers, signed by Rivers and Jones
Box 1 Revolution, II 1964
Box 1 Programs and posters 1961-1965
Box 1 Publisher's flyers 1960
Ellison, Ralph
Book review
Box 1 "Blues People by LeRoi Jones," New York Review of Books, I 1964 - pub. mat.
Jones, LeRoi
Box 1 Miscellaneous fragments undated
Articles and essays
Box 1 "Apple Cores" undated - ts. rev.
Box 1 "The Black Man Has No Other Choice," Progressive Labor, III 1964 - pub. mat.
Box 1 "Black Writing," American Dialog, I 1964 - pub. mat.
Box 1 "In the Ring (2)," The Nation 1964 - pub. mat.
Box 1 On Jack Kerouac undated - ts. rev.
Box 1 "The Largest Ocean in the World," Yugen 8 1962
Box 1 "The Myth of 'Negro' Literature," Saturday Review, XLVI 1963 - pub. mat.
Box 1 "Nick Charles Meets the Wolfman" undated - tsc.
Box 1 "Note on One Side (The Study)" undated - ts. rev.
Box 1 "Putdown of the Whore of Babylon" undated - ts. rev.
Box 1 "re/ The South" undated - ts. rev.
Box 1 "The Task of the Negro Writer as Artist," Negro Digest, XIV 1965 - pub. mat.
Box 1 "This Pleasant and Affable Young Man Has a Message for You," Cavalier, XVI 1966 - pub. mat.
The System of Dante's Hell
Box 1 Draft tsc. undated
Box 1 Published Material Grove Press, New York 1963
Blues People: Negro Music in White America
Box 1 Draft pp.1-129 ts. rev. undated
Box 2 Draft pp. 129-287 undated
Box 2 Galley proofs rev. 1963
"Cuba Libre"
Box 2 Draft ts. rev. undated
Box 2 Galley proofs rev. undated
Book reviews
Box 2 The Art of Jazz, ed. by Martin T. Williams undated
Jazz, ed. by Nat Hentoff and Albert J. McCarthy; The Collector's Jazz--Modern, by John S. Wilson; The Sound of Surprise, by Whitney Balliett, ts rev
Box 2 "New Books of Poetry" ca. 1960 - ts. rev.
The Moderns, an Anthology of New Writing in America
Box 2 Promotional material 1963
Box 2 Published material Corinth Books, New York 1963
Music reviews
Box 2 Fragments 1958
Box 2 "The Avant Garde" undated - ts. rev.
Box 2 "Blue Gator--Willis Jackson" undated - tsc.
Box 2 "Bop and Avant Garde Compositions" undated - ts. rev.
Box 2 "Brownie McGhee" undated - ts. rev.
Box 2 "Capuchin Swing" undated - tsc.
Box 2 "Coltrane" undated - ts. rev.
Box 2 "Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor" undated - tsc.
Box 2 "James Waring and Dance Company" 1962 - ts. rev.
Box 2 On Jazz undated - tsc.
Box 2 "Jazz as Satire and Ridicule (from an Essay in Progress)" undated - note and holo.
Box 2 On John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Art Blakely at Lincoln Center undated - galley proof
Box 2 "Junior Mance" undated - ts.
Box 2 "Lonnie Johnson and Elmer Snowden" undated - ts. rev.
Box 2 "Moody's Workshop" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "Mucho, Mucho--Shirley Scott with the Latin Jazz Quintet" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "Muddy Waters" undated - ts. rev.
Box 3 "Oliver Nelson, Eric Dolphy, Richard Williams" undated - ts. rev.
Box 3 "Prestige 7178--Bacalao" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "The Rocking Fifties" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "Rocky Boyd" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "Soul Time: Bobby Timmons" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "South Side Soul--The John Wright Trio" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "Who is Miles Davis" undated - ts. rev.
Box 3 The Baptism undated - ts. repro. rev.
Box 3 Draft repro. rev. 1964
Box 3 Galley proofs rev. 1964
Dutchman and The Slave
Box 3 Cover design undated
Box 3 Published material Wm. Morrow and Co., New York 1964
Box 3 "The Marathon Runner" undated - ts. rev.
Box 3 "Riker's Morning" undated - ts. rev.
The Slave
Box 3 Draft ts. rev. undated
Box 3 Galley proofs rev. 1964
Box 3 The Toilet undated - ts. rev.
Short stories
Box 3 "The Alternative," The Transatlantic Review 1965 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "The ABC's (For Charles)" undated - ts. signed
Box 3 "Citizen Cain" and "Theory," The Spero, Fenian Head Center Press, Flint, Michigan 1965 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Crow Jane," Burning Deck 1963 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Dialectic" and "An Execution," Helicon, III 1964 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "The Gift of the Universe," Epos, X 1958 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Node" undated - ts. signed
Box 3 "Theory of Art," Provincetown Review 1961 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Instruction for Negroes (a handbook of violence)" undated - ts.
Box 3 "Like Rousseau" undated - tsc.
Box 3 "The Disguise" 1961 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Spring and soforth" 1960 - pub. mat.
Box 3 "Valery as Dictator," "The Liar," and "Snake Eyes," Poetry, CIII 1963 - pub. mat.
The Dead Lecturer
Box 3 Draft ts. rev. undated
Box 3 Galley proofs rev. 1964
Box 4 Page proofs 1964
Box 4 Published material Grove Press, New York 1964
Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
Box 4 Draft tsc. 1957-1960
Box 4 Published Material Totem Press/Corinth Books New York 1961
Verse set to music
Box 4 "The Turncoat" score 1961
Jones, LeRoi and others -
Box 4 Interview 1961
Loewinsohn, Ron
Box 4 Book review, fragment ts. rev. undated
Nichols, Herbie
Box 4 Verse collection, untitled, tsc. undated
Roth, Phillip
Box 4 Book reviews 1964 - Blues for Mr. Charlie, by James Baldwin" and "Dutchman, by LeRoi Jones," New York Review of Books, II
Sachs, Ed
Box 4 Articles and essays undated - "Some Problems of Jazz in Fiction," ts. annot.
Tatum, Marvin
Box 4 Articles 1961 - "A Look at the American Small Press Today," Cornell Library News, X
Box 4 Unidentified verse undated
Yugen magazine records
Box 4 Authors' manuscripts undated
Box 4 Promotional material 1959
Yugen 2
Box 4 Published material 1958
Yugen 5
Authors' manuscripts
Box 4 Gilbert Sorrentino, "A Note on Gregory Corso's To Black Mountain"
Box 4 Paul Blackburn, "Ramus, Divendres, Diumenga" and "A Purity Defined"
Box 4 Gregory Corso, "Food"
Box 4 Diane DiPrima, "Earthsong"
Box 4 Larry Eigner, Untitled
Box 4 Max Einstein, "A Blue Whale's"
Box 4 Rainer Gerhardt, "Fragment" and "Voices"
Box 4 Allen Ginsberg, "Kaddish"
Box 4 Barbara Guest, "Sunday Evening" and "The Crisis"
Box 4 Jack Kerouac, "Sitting Under Tree Number Two"
Box 4 Walter Lowenfels, "The Nightingale"
Box 4 Michael McClure, "Rant Block"
Box 4 David Meltzer, "15th Raga/ for Bela Lugosi" and "From Night Before Morning/ Book One"
Box 4 Barbara Moraff, Untitled
Box 4 Frank O'Hara, "Ode on Casuality"
Box 4 Joel Oppenheimer, "The Issue at Hand"
Box 4 Cesar Vallejo, "Black Stone on a White Stone"
Box 4 Philip Whalen, "I Return to San Francisco"
Box 4 John Wieners, "A Poem for Virgins"
Box 4 William Carlos Williams, "A Formal Design"
Box 4 Dummy
Box 4 Promotional material
Box 4 Published material 1959
Yugen 6
Box 4 Miscellaneous
Authors' manuscripts
Box 4 Edward Dahlberg, "On Passions and Asceticism"
Box 4 Paul Blackburn, "Song of the Wires"
Box 4 Robin Blaser, "Out to Dinner"
Box 4 Ralph Bremser, "backyards and deviations"
Box 4 Paul Carroll, "By Its Familiar Accent" We Recognize the Ghost"
Box 4 Robert Creeley, "What's for Dinner"
Box 4 Ed Dorn, "The 6th" and "The 7th"
Box 4 Larry Eigner, Untitled
Box 4 Jack Kerouac, "Rimbaud"
Box 4 Kenneth Koch, "From a Book of Poetry"
Box 4 Philip Lamantia, "Blank Poem for Poe"
Box 4 Ron Loewinsohn, "Trees/ 6" and "Etude, with Chair"
Box 4 Edward Marshall, Untitled
Box 4 Michael McClure, "The Column"
Box 4 David Meltzer, "4th Raga/ for John Kelly Reed"
Box 4 Frank O'Hara, "Personal Poem"
Box 4 Charles Olson, "As of Bozeman," "The Distances" and "Letter, May 2, 1959"
Box 4 Rochelle Owens, "Groshl Monkeys Horses"
Box 4 Gary Snyder, "A Walk," "Wild Horses," "afterwork" and "On Vulture Peak"
Box 4 Tristan Tzara, trans. by Daisy Alban, "Wheat"
Box 4 David Wang, "II. Invocation"
Box 4 Published material 1959
Yugen 7
Box 4 Miscellaneous
Authors' manuscripts
Box 4 Robert Creeley, "The New World"
Box 4 Larry Eigner, "Letter"
Box 4 Frank O'Hara, "Personism: a Manifesto"
Box 4 Joel Oppenheimer, letter
Box 4 Gilbert Sorrentino, "Some Notes..."
Box 4 Kenneth Koch, "Guinevere or the Death of the Kangaroo"
Box 4 John Ashberry, "From a Comic Book" and "Leaving the Atucha Station"
Box 5 Bruce Boyd, 6 poems
Box 5 Gregory Corso, "On Chessman's Crime"
Box 5 Diane DiPrima, "The Jungle"
Box 5 Larry Eigner, untitled
Box 5 Max Einstein, "For Fair Eleanor"
Box 5 Allen Ginsberg, "The End"
Box 5 Edward Marshall, "Sept. of 1957"
Box 5 Charles Olson, "Theory of Society"
Box 5 Joel Oppenheimer, "Morning Song"
Box 5 Stuart Z. Perkoff, "To Orpheus," "Poem" and "Pithecanthropus Erectus"
Box 5 B. Smith, "Empty Bed Blues"
Box 5 Philip Whalen, "Literary Life in the Golden West," "Sincerity Shot, 23:III:58" and "A Manuscript in Several Hands 3:III:60"
Box 5 Published material 1961
Yugen 8
Authors' manuscripts
Box 5 Robert Creeley, "Some Notes on Olson's"
Box 5 Gilbert Sorrentino, "Duncan and Spicer"
Box 5 Gilbert Sorrentino, "2 Books"
Box 5 George Stanley, "Finstein and Sorrentino"
Box 5 Edward Dorn, "Notes About Working and Waiting Around"
Box 5 William Burroughs, "The Cut Up Method"
Box 5 Steve Jonas, "Tensone with Relent," "Discourse," "To a Strayed Cat" and "A Long Poem for Jack Spicer"
Box 5 Edward Marshall, "Memory as Memorial in the Last"
Box 5 Charles Olson, "Book ii Chapter 37" and "place; and names"
Box 5 Gilbert Sorrentino, "The Meeting" and "The Memory"
Box 5 Speckled Red, "Red's Dozens"
Box 5 George Stanley, 6 Poems
Box 5 Page proofs
Box 5 Published material 1962

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