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Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Baraka, Amiri, 1934-2014.
Title: Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) Collection
Inclusive Dates: 1957-1968
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 (Amiri Baraka) Collection 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 is primarily incoming and relate to Jones' literary, political and personal concerns. The 1967-1968 correspondence pertains to the arrest of Jones and others during protests at the site of the Kawaida Towers housing project in Newark, New Jersey.

Memorabilia includes 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. 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 contains works by Jones and others. Jones' works include articles and essays, 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 other authors include reviews of Jones' books by Ralph Ellison and Phillip Roth.

Yugen magazine records consist of material related to the literary magazine of which Jones was the editor. Included here are authors' manuscripts, dummies, page proofs, promotional and published versions of the periodical. The authors' manuscripts, which include verse, plays and prose submitted by various noted writers, include Allen Ginsberg, Diane Di Prima, Jack Kerouac, and William S. Burroughs.

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Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. Memorabilia is arranged alphabetically by type. Writings are arranged alphabetically first by author, then by type of work and finally by title. Yugen records are organized first by the number of the issue, then by the type of material.

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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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Subject Headings


Ashbery, John, 1927-2017.
Baraka, Amiri, 1934-2014.
Blackburn, Paul, 1926-1971.
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.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.
Scripts (documents)



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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

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

Acquisition Information

Purchase, various years.

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); 20 Mar 2017 - merged the other LJ/AB collection, 2484305, into this one (MRC); 9 Sep 2020 - addition, "Rainbow Agenda" piece (MRC)

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Box 1 [General] 1958-1965, 1967-1968, undated (7 folders)
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 material
Box 1 "In-Formation," pre-publication issue 1965
Box 1 Portrait print by Larry Rivers, signed by Rivers and Jones 1966 - reprint of a 1964 original
Box 1 Revolution, Vol. II no. 1 Sept/Oct. 1964
Box 1 Programs and posters 1961-1965
Box 1 Publisher's flyers 1960
Ellison, Ralph
Box 1 Book review, "Blues People by LeRoi Jones," New York Review of Books, I 1964
Jones, LeRoi
Box 1 Miscellaneous fragments undated
Articles, essays, statements
Box 1 "Apple Cores" undated - typescript, revised
Box 1 "The Black Man Has No Other Choice," Progressive Labor, III 1964 - published material
Box 1 "Black Writing," American Dialog, I 1964 - published material
Box 1 "In the Ring (2)," The Nation 1964 - published material
Box 1 On Jack Kerouac undated - typescript, revised
Box 1 "The Largest Ocean in the World," Yugen 8 1962
Box 1 "The Myth of 'Negro' Literature," Saturday Review, XLVI 1963 - published material
Box 1 "The Need for a Rainbow Agenda" [1984?] - handwritten draft, heavily revised; evidently written around the time of the Democratic National Convention, as it mentions candidacy of Jesse Jackson and the need for a "revolutionary Democratic agenda"
Box 1 "Nick Charles Meets the Wolfman" undated - typescript carbon
Box 1 "Note on One Side (The Study)" undated - typescript, revised
Box 1 "Putdown of the Whore of Babylon" undated - typescript, revised
Box 1 "re The South" undated - typescript, revised
Box 1 Statement by Jones regarding his arrest during the Kawaida Towers protests 1967-1968
Box 1 "The Task of the Negro Writer as Artist," Negro Digest, XIV 1965
Box 1 "This Pleasant and Affable Young Man Has a Message for You," Cavalier, XVI 1966
Books, fiction
The System of Dante's Hell
Box 1 Draft, typescript carbon undated
Published edition, Grove Press, New York, 1963
Sent to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate this item.
Books, non-fiction
Blues People: Negro Music in White America
Box 1 Draft typescript, revised, pp. 1-129 undated
Box 2 Draft typescript, revised, pp. 130-287 undated
Box 2 Galley proofs, revised 1963 (2 folders)
"Cuba Libre"
Box 2 Draft typescript, revised undated
Box 2 Galley proofs, revised 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 - typescript, revised
The Moderns, an Anthology of New Writing in America
Box 2 Promotional material 1963
Published edition, Corinth Books, New York, 1963
Sent to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate this item.
Music reviews
Box 2 Fragments 1958
Box 2 "The Avant Garde" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Blue Gator--Willis Jackson" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Bop and Avant Garde Compositions" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Brownie McGhee" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Capuchin Swing" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Coltrane" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Gene Ammons: Boss Tenor" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "James Waring and Dance Company" 1962 - typescript, revised
Box 2 On Jazz undated - typescript carbon
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 - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Moody's Workshop" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Mucho, Mucho--Shirley Scott with the Latin Jazz Quintet" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Muddy Waters" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Oliver Nelson, Eric Dolphy, Richard Williams" undated - typescript, revised
Box 2 "Prestige 7178--Bacalao" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "The Rocking Fifties" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Rocky Boyd" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Soul Time: Bobby Timmons" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "South Side Soul--The John Wright Trio" undated - typescript carbon
Box 2 "Who is Miles Davis" undated - typescript, revised
Box 3 The Baptism undated - typescript reproduction, revised
Box 3 Draft, revised 1964 - reproduction
Box 3 Galley proofs, revised 1964
Dutchman and The Slave
Box 3 Cover design undated
Published edition, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1964
Sent to Rare Books for cataloging. Please refer to the Classic Catalog to locate this item.
Box 3 "The Marathon Runner" undated - typescript, revised
Box 3 "Riker's Morning" undated - typescript, revised
The Slave
Box 3 Draft typescript, revised undated
Box 3 Galley proofs, revised 1964
Box 3 The Toilet undated - typescript, revised
Short stories
Box 3 "The Alternative," The Transatlantic Review 1965 - published material
Box 3 "The ABC's (For Charles)" undated - typescript, signed
Box 3 "Citizen Cain" and "Theory," The Spero, Fenian Head Center Press, Flint, Michigan 1965 - published editions
Box 3 "Crow Jane," Burning Deck 1963 - published editions
Box 3 "Dialectic" and "An Execution," Helicon, III 1964 - published editions
Box 3 "The Gift of the Universe," Epos, X 1958 - published editions
Box 3 "Node" undated - typescript, signed
Box 3 "Theory of Art," Provincetown Review 1961 - published editions
Box 3 "Instruction for Negroes (a handbook of violence)" undated - typescript
Box 3 "Like Rousseau" undated - typescript carbon
Box 3 "The Disguise" 1961 - published edition
Box 3 "Spring and soforth" 1960 - published edition
Box 3 "Valery as Dictator," "The Liar," and "Snake Eyes," Poetry, CIII 1963 - published edition
Verse collections
The Dead Lecturer
Box 3 Draft typescript, revised undated
Box 3 Galley proofs, revised 1964
Box 3 Page proofs 1964
Box 3 Published edition, Grove Press, New York 1964
Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
Box 3 Draft typescript carbon 1957-1960
Box 3 Published edition, Totem Press/Corinth Books New York 1961
Verse set to music
Oversize 1 "The Turncoat" score 1961
Jones, LeRoi and others
Box 4 Interview 1961
Loewinsohn, Ron
Box 4 Book review, fragment typescript, revised undated
Nichols, Herbie
Box 4 Verse collection, untitled, typescript carbon 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 Feinstein, "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 (2 copies)
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 Ray 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 (2 copies)
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 Ashbery, "From a comic book" and "Leaving the Atucha Station"
Box 4 Bruce Boyd, "Summer nightmusic," "This is how the wind sings, lover, on the beach," "A quarrel of minstrels,' "Water," "Song," "Poem"
Box 4 Gregory Corso, "On Chessman's Crime"
Box 4 Diane DiPrima, "The Jungle"
Box 4 Larry Eigner, untitled
Box 4 Max Feinstein, "For Fair Eleanor"
Box 4 Allen Ginsberg, "The End"
Box 4 Edward Marshall, "Sept. 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 (2 copies)
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, "The message held up to the speeding train on a willow hoop," "Punishment," "The meteor," "The implicit acknowledgements," "Valentine," "A false start"
Box 5 Page proofs
Box 5 Published material 1962 (2 copies)

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