CLIFTON, LUCILLE, 1936-2010.
Lucille Clifton papers, circa 1930-2010

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Clifton, Lucille, 1936-2010.
Title: Lucille Clifton papers, circa 1930-2010
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1054
Extent:40.5 linear ft. (84 boxes), 27 oversized papers (OP), 6 bound volumes (BV), 4 oversized bound volumes (OBV)
Abstract:Papers of African American poet Lucille Clifton, including manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, scrapbooks, broadsides, and printed material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply:

Series 11: Digital files are closed to researchers.

Series 12: Unprocessed additions are closed to researched for processing as of April 4, 2012.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Separated Material

Emory University also holds the private library of Lucille Clifton. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching for: Clifton, Lucille, former owner.


Purchase, 2006, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Lucille Clifton papers, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Laura Carroll, Sarah Prince, and Christopher Sawula, January 2010.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Lucille Clifton (1936-2010), African American poet and children's book author. She was born Thelma Lucille Clifton on June 27, 1936 to Samuel L. Sayles, Sr. and Thelma Moore Sayles in Depew, New York. At the age of seven, the Sayles family moved to nearby Buffalo, New York. From 1953-1955, Lucille attended Howard University from 1953-1955 and Fredonia State Teachers College (now State University of New York College at Fredonia) in 1955.

Lucille Sayles married Fred Clifton (1934-1984) on May 10, 1958, and had six children in the next seven years, Sidney (1959), Fredrica (1961-2000), Channing (1962-2004), Gillian (1963), Graham (1964) and Alexia (1965).

Clifton's first volume of poetry, Good Times, was published in 1969 and chosen by The New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. Other volumes of poetry followed, including Good News About the Earth (1972), and An Ordinary Woman (1974), Next: New Poems (1987), and The Terrible Stories (1996), which was nominated for a National Book Award. She has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for the years 1980, 1987, 1988, and 1991, and her Blessing the Boats (2000) won the National Book Award for Poetry.

In addition to poetry, Clifton has written many children's books, including eight volumes featuring the character of Everett Anderson. Everett Anderson's Goodbye won the Coretta Scott King Award from the American Library Association in 1984.

Throughout her career as a poet and children's book author, Clifton has also taught poetry and creative writing at several institutions, including Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland (1972-1976), University of California, Santa Cruz (1985-1989), and St. Mary's College of Maryland (1989-2006). In 2007, Clifton won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Clifton died on February 13, 2010.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains the literary and personal papers of Lucille Clifton from circa 1930-2009. The materials document Clifton's work as a poet, children's book author, and teacher, her participation in literary organizations, and the development of her personal and professional relationships. The papers include correspondence, writings by Clifton, writings by others, teaching and workshop files, subject files, personal papers, printed material, photographs, audiovisual material, and digital files. The collection also includes the papers of Fred Clifton, Clifton's husband.

Arrangement Note

Organized into twelve series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Writings by Clifton, (3) Writings by others, (4) Teaching and workshop files, (5) Subject and organization files, (6) Personal papers, (7) Printed material, (8) Photographs, (9) Audiovisual material, (10) Fred Clifton papers, (11) Digital files, and (12) Unprocessed additions.

Description of Series