Collection inventory

Special Collections home page
printer friendly version

Leonard Nathan Papers

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Nathan, Leonard, 1924-2007.
Title: Leonard Nathan Papers
Inclusive Dates: 1961-2007
Quantity: 12 linear ft.
Abstract: Correspondence, writings, printed material, etc. of the American poet.
Language: Bulk in English, some in Swedish, French, Italian, and Chinese.
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Leonard Nathan (1924-2007) was an award-winning American poet, essayist, teacher, and critic.

Born in El Monte, California, he served in the United States Army as a combat engineer in World War II and afterwards attended the University of California Berkely (UCB) on the GI Bill. While at UCB he met his future wife, Carol, and George Hochfield, who became a lifelong friend and colleague. Nathan received his BA (1950) and Master's (1952) in English (1950), followed by a PhD (1961). Shortly thereafter he took a position with UCB's Speech Department, becoming associate professor in 1965 and full professor in 1968. He served as chair of the department from 1968-1972, overseeing the department's changeover to become the Department of Rhetoric. He retired from teaching in 1991 but continued to write, and at the time of his death was engaged in a joint project with Hochfield, a translation of the work of Italian poet Umberto Saba.

Nathan's work was published in national magazines and journals, among them the New Yorker, Prairie Schooner, the Kenyon Review, and the Atlantic; he also published several collections of his poetry. His prose work included Diary of a Left-handed Birdwatcher, and he collaborated on several translations of other poets' works.

Among his honors were the National Institute of Arts and Letters prize for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Phelan Award for Narrative Poetry, and three silver medals from the Commonwealth Club of California, including one for The Potato Eaters (Orchises Press, 1999).

[Portions of this biographical sketch adapted from Nathan's obituary in the UC Berkeley News.]

Return to top

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Leonard Nathan Papers consist of correspondence-subject files, memorabilia, printed material, and typescripts. Correspondence-subject files includes substantial correspondence with author Ted Kooser, drafts of Nathan's work, and research material; also included here are 5 boxes of material relating to Nathan's collaboration with George Hochfield on the work of Italian poet Umberto Saba and two boxes relating to translations of Chinese poets. Memorabilia includes a scrapbook and several notebooks. Printed material includes published works by Nathan and a small amount of items by others. Typescripts consists entirely of typescripts of poems, many with Nathan's corrections.

Return to top

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence-subject files have been rearranged into alphabetical order for ease of location. In most cases material remains in the original folders bearing Nathan's original headings; headings added by library staff are enclosed in square brackets [ ]. Printed material and typescripts have been foldered and labeled by library staff and are in no particular order.

Return to top


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.

Return to top

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has made a concerted effort over the years to ensure that its manuscript and rare books holdings complement each other. As a result, many of our manuscript collections are supported by books, pamphlets, serials and other items which are cataloged in the Rare Books Collection. Please be sure to search the Classic Catalog for these related materials.

Return to top

Subject Headings


Hochfield, George.
Kooser, Ted.
Nathan, Leonard, 1924-2007.
Saba, Umberto, 1883-1957.

Associated Titles

Diary of a left-handed birdwatcher.
Ragged sonnets.
Restarting the world.


American poetry -- 20th century.
Chinese poetry -- Translations into English.
College teachers -- Poetry.
Italian poetry -- Translations into English.
Poets, American -- 20th century.

Genres and Forms




Return to top

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Leonard Nathan Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Leonard Nathan, 1973; George Hochfield, 2009.

Finding Aid Information

Created by: MRC
Date: 6 May 2009
Revision history:

Return to top


Correspondence-subject files
In most cases material remains in the original folders bearing Nathan's original headings; headings added by library staff are enclosed in square brackets [ ].
Box 1 Alibris
Box 1 Amazon
Box 1 Bhagava gita [sic - Bhagavad gita]
Box 1 Biography
Box 1 Bird essays
Box 1 Bird material (2 folders)
Box 1 [Bird] Reviews, etc.
Box 1 [Bird] City birding
Box 1 Book contracts
Box 1 Book reviews
Box 18, 19 [Chinese materials] - drafts, research, etc.; poets include Wang Yang-Ming, Wang Dun, Shaodan, Tu Wei-Ming, others (2 boxes)
Box 1 "Collected Poems" - proofs? (2 folders)
Box 2 Commonwealth Club (2 folders)
Box 2 [Copper Canyon Press]
Box 2 Copyright information
Box 2 Correspondence 1999-2000 (2 folders)
Box 3 Correspondence 2001-2003 (4 folders)
Box 4 Correspondence 2003-2006, undated (6 folders)
Box 5 D'Evelyn [Tom]
Box 5 [Diary of a left-handed bird-watcher] letters on translation, also corrections
Box 5 Diary [of a left-handed bird-watcher], reviews and comments
Box 5 Diary [of a left-handed bird-watcher], Swedish version, reviews and comments
Box 5 Dissertation 1961 (3 folders)
Box 5 Gavin Douglas
Box 5 "Dream watching"
Box 6 Dubovsky [Tony] 2003-2004 (3 folders)
Box 6 E. Edelin
Box 6 Emerson
Box 6 Enabling grant expenses
Box 6 Essays: Henrietta O'Neill
Box 6 Family
Box 6 T. Farber
Box 6 John Gage
Box 6 Geraldine Gobi Greig
Box 6 Grandfather Fox (2 folders)
Box 7 Graywolf
Box 7 The Group
Box 7 Holden [Jonathan]
Box 7 Hollins critic
Box 7 Indian [poetry]
See also Sanskrit
Box 7 Kooser [Ted] 1999-2001 (3 folders)
Box 8 Kooser [Ted] 2002-2006, undated (6 folders)
Box 8 Ted K[ooser]'s short stories
Box 8 Lathbury [Roger] (4 folders)
See also Orchises folders.
Box 9 [Lectures on poetry]
Box 9 16th century
Box 9 17th century (Augustan)
Box 9 Autobiographical
Box 9 Beginning of poetry -- Greek and Roman
Box 9 Biblical
Box 9 Genres
Box 9 India (2 folders)
Box 9 Lyric
Box 9 Medieval -- Chaucer
Box 9 Modernism
Box 9 Rhetorical theory
Box 9 Romantic/Victorian
Box 9 Lost Distance
Box 10 Matchmaker
Box 10 Mechanics Bank checking
Box 10 Milosz [Czeslaw] (2 folders)
Box 10 Dr. Narayan
Box 10 News from Helicon (4 folders)
Box 11 Nilsson [Lennart] 2000-2006 (5 folders)
Box 11 Nye
Box 11 Orchises Lathbury Potato Eaters
Additional Orchises material also in Lathbury [Roger] folders.
Box 12 Orchises Press Tears
Box 12 Osaki [Mark Stephen]
Box 12 Pascoli
Box 12 Pending 2004
Box 12 Permissions
Box 12 Permissions The Potato Eaters
Box 12 Pirandello (2 folders)
Box 12 Poems on hand
Box 12 Professional expense and income
Box 12 Proofreaders marks
Box 12 Prostate
Box 12 Ragged Sonnets (4 folders)
See also Printed material: by Nathan for two published copies
Box 12 Rattle
Box 13 Research information
Box 13 Restarting the World (4 folders)
Box 13 Retirement forms
Box 13 Reviews
Box 13 [Rhetoric of poetry]
Box 14 Dr. Richardson
Box 14 Rosmarin, Adena
Box 20-24 [Saba materials] - research, drafts, correspondence, etc. related to Nathan and Hochfield's collaborative work on Italian poet Umberto Saba (5 boxes)
Box 14 [Sanskrit]
See also Indian [poetry]
Box 14 Satire
Box 14 Ron Slate
Box 14 [Streckfus, Peter]
Box 14 Stuart, Debney
Box 14 Stumble on the Trail
Box 14 Submission information
Box 14 to Syracuse [University]
Box 14 Talisman Press
Box 14 Tears, comments and reviews
Box 14 Tolstoy
Box 14 Transport of Love, Meghaduta (Copper Canyon Press)
Box 15 [University of California] (3 folders)
Box 15 Vita
Box 15 Weiss, Ted and Renee
Box 15 Who's Who
Box 15 Who's Who and vita
Box 15 Xlibris
Box 15 Miscellaneous early reviews and commentary
Box 15 Miscellaneous materials
Box 15 Miscellaneous possibilities
Box 15 Miscellaneous prose
Box 15 [Miscellaneous]
Box 15 [Miscellaneous] - material found loose in boxes; includes clippings, correspondence, other materials
Box 25 Miscellaneous - scrapbook, two diaries, birdwatching notebook
Printed material
Box 16 By Nathan - includes copies of Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, other journals with Nathan's poems, articles and essays; two copies of Ragged Sonnets; photocopies of published material
Box 16 By others - no mention of Nathan in them; may be memorabilia
Box 17 Poems, miscellaneous (4 folders)

Return to top