Tracy K. Smith papers, 1972-2020

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Smith, Tracy K.
Title: Tracy K. Smith papers, 1972-2020
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 1468
Extent: 13 linear feet (14 boxes), 1 oversized papers box and 1 oversized papers folder (OP), AV Masters: 0.25 linear foot (1 box), and 41.6 GB born digital material (42,016 files)
Abstract:Papers of 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States and author, Tracy K. Smith, including correspondence, professional and personal files, printed material, and born digital material.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Per donor request, email in the collection is restricted pending review.

Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact the Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder the Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Access to processed born digital materials is only available in the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library (the Rose Library). Use of the original digital media is restricted.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

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


Purchase from Tracy K. Smith, 2018, 2020.

Custodial History

The Rose Library purchased the collection from Tracy K. Smith in October 2018. The collection was packed and shipped to the Rose by Tracy K. Smith in November 2018. Additions purchased from Tracy K. Smith in February 2020. The additions were packed and shipped to the Rose by Tracy K. Smith in March 2020.


[after identification of item(s)], Tracy K. Smith papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.

Appraisal Note

Acquired by Interim Director Jennifer Meehan as part of the Rose Library’s holdings in literature and poetry. During accessioning in 2019, Rose Library staff removed and returned name badges and reusable bags from conferences and decorative keepsake boxes. Appraisal decisions were made by Project Digital Archivist, Brenna Edwards, in consultation with Interim Curator of Literary Collections, Carrie Hintz.


Arranged and described at the collection level by Brenna Edwards, 2019. Additions arranged and described at the collection level by Brenna Edwards, 2020.

Born digital materials processed, arranged, and described by Brenna Edwards, 2020. Born digital materials include files taken from three 3.5" floppy disks, four optical discs, two internal hard drives, and one file transfer.

Forensic disk images were created from the floppy disks using Kryoflux, and from the optical discs and internal hard drives using GuyMager. Individual files were extracted using FTK Imager and scanned for viruses using McAfee’s anti-virus software; none were found. Duplicate and system files have been removed, and files were scanned for personally identifiable information; none were found. Text-based files were migrated to PDF using Adobe Acrobat and image files were migrated to JPG using GIMP. File dates have been changed from the original creation date. Access copies retain original folder titles and file names.

This finding aid may include language that is offensive or harmful. Please refer to the Rose Library's harmful language statement for more information about why such language may appear and ongoing efforts to remediate racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, euphemistic and other oppressive language. If you are concerned about language used in this finding aid, please contact us at

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Tracy K. Smith (1972-) is the 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States and the Director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey). She was born in Massachusetts and raised in northern California. Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts), and her Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Columbia University (New York, New York). She is the author of four books of poetry: The Body’s Question (2003); Duende (2007); Life on Mars (2011), which won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; and Wade in the Water (2018). She has also written a memoir titled Ordinary Light (2015).

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of the papers of Tracy K. Smith from 1972-2018 and includes writings by Smith, juvenilia, professional papers, correspondence, photographs, and digital files. Correspondence contains both personal and professional correspondence. The bulk of the writings are of Smith’s memoir, Ordinary Light, consisting of drafts, revisions, and page proofs. Other writings include various book and poem drafts, some of which are identified, and journals. Teaching files contain syllabi and coursework from Smith's classes. Professional files include book contracts, conference memorabilia, and programs, and printed material consists of newspapers and magazines with articles about Smith. Personal files document Smith’s childhood, as well as a 2017 trip to China with fellow authors and poets. Personal files also include programs for events Smith attended and fan mail. Born digital material includes correspondence, photographs, teaching materials, and various writings dating from 2001 to 2019.

Arrangement Note

Arranged by record type.

Selected Search Terms

Personal Names

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms


Container List

Box Folder Content
RRL Access copies of processed born digital material [Reading room access ONLY]
AV1 - Audiovisual and born digital materials, undated
14 - Black Poetry: A Gala material, 2019
8 - Book contracts, conference memorabilia, and programs, 2006-2018
9 - Book contracts, conference memorabilia, and programs, 2012-2017
13 - Childhood, college, and graduate school materials, 1979-2002
1 - Correspondence, personal and professional, 1990-2017
2 - Correspondence, professional, 1995-2018
14 - Correspondence and event programs, 2018-2019 [AV material: 1 CD]
13 - Correspondence and writings, 2018-2019
14 - New Hampshire Public Radio materials, 2018
10 - Personal files, 1994-2017
9 - Personal files, 1990-2018
12 - Photographs, undated
14 - Poem-A-Day, undated
13 - Poetry event programs, 2018-2019
14 - Princeton materials, undated
OP1 2 Printed material, event posters, 2013-2016
OP1 1 Printed material, newspapers, 2017
OP2 - Printed material, Zero to Sixty Reading Series event poster, undated
11 - Printed materials, 2008-2018
13 - Printed materials, 2017-2019
13 - The Slowdown podcast scripts, 2018-2020
7 - Teaching files, 1998-2017
13 - Workshop materials, 2019
2 - Writings, After Everything That Is Happening Has Happened/In the Time of Miracles, undated
14 - Writings, American’t draft, 2005
2 - Writings, Castor and Patience, undated
14 - Writings, Eternity draft, 2018
2 - Writings, 2003-2014
6 - Writings, notebooks and journals, undated
3 - Writings, Ordinary Light, 2012-2014
4 - Writings, Ordinary Light, 2013-2015
5 - Writings, poems, 2003-2015