CLIFTON, LUCILLE, 1936-2010.
Lucille Clifton papers, circa 1930-2011

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 1930-2011
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1054
Extent:42.5 linear ft. (86 boxes), 27 oversized papers (OP), 6 bound volumes (BV), 4 oversized bound volumes (OBV), AV Masters: 1.3 linear feet, and 49.7 GB born digital materials.
Abstract:Papers of African American poet Lucille Clifton, including manuscripts, correspondence, clippings, scrapbooks, broadsides, printed material, and born digital materials.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Series 11: Access to born digital materials is only available in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL). Use of the original digital media is restricted. Due to technical complications, MARBL is currently unable to provide access to remaining unprocessed born digital materials.

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

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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

Researchers are not permitted to copy or download any of the digital files from the computer workstation.

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.

Born digital materials processed by Dorothy Waugh, June 2014. The born digital materials currently available to researchers include email and files taken from Lucille Clifton's personal computer, an HP Tower Pavilion Elite M9040N, and from four Magnavox VideoWriter diskettes. For information as to how these materials were processed, see the processing note in the description of series 11, Born digital materials.

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 1930-2011. 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 born digital materials. 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) Born digital materials, and (12) Unprocessed additions.

Description of Series