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Joyce Carol Oates Papers

An inventory of her papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Aug 1999

Biographical History

As the winner of the National Book Award for her 1970 novel Them and the recipient of four O. Henry awards and numerous other literary prizes, Joyce Carol Oates is among the most distinguished writers in the United States. In her considerable body of work, she has created an array of male and female protagonists from a diversity of regional, economic, and occupational backgrounds. In the four decades since her first book, the short-story collection By the North Gate, appeared to critical acclaim in 1963, Oates has published more than thirty novels, more than twenty-five books of short fiction, several volumes of poetry, a number of plays, and more than a half-dozen collections of essays and literary criticism [Adapted from Current Biography (1994)].

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1956 to 1998, the Joyce Carol Oates Papers comprises Family correspondence, Correspondence-subject files, Writings, Memorabilia, and Book translations of the American novelist, poet, playwright, essayist and Princeton University professor (b. 1938).

A single box of Family correspondence, which includes incoming and outgoing letters (1968-1997) of Oates and her parents, letters of Oates' paternal grandmother, Blanche Woodside, and an assortment of greeting cards from her husband, Raymond Smith, precedes the Correspondence-subject files (Boxes 2-12).

Arranged alphabetically, the Correspondence-subject files contain any combination of incoming letters, photocopies of Ms. Oates' outgoing typescript carbons, and manuscript and/or printed material by or about the correspondent. Correspondents include agents (Gersh Agency, Blanche Gregory, John Hawkins & Associates, Inc., William Morris Agency); artists (R.B. Kitaj, Barry Moser, David Shapiro); composers (John Duffy, Ned Rorem); critics (Stephen Koch, Elaine Showalter); directors (Frank Corsaro, Emily Mann, Tom Palumbo, Al Rossi); editors (William Abrahams, Barry Callaghan, Ellen Datlow, Reginald Gibbons, Laurence Goldstein, Daniel Halpern, Frederick Morgan, Bradford Morrow, Henry Robbins, Evelyn Shrifte); educators (Henry S. Bienen, John Ditsky, Lois Smedick); journalists (Marj Jackson Levin, Lucinda Franks); novelists (Russell Banks, Richard Ford, Gail Godwin, Paul Theroux, Anne Tyler, John Updike, Gloria Whelan); poets (Chase Twichell, William Heyen, Josephine Jacobsen, Maxine Kumin, Alicia Ostriker, Robert Phillips, John Robert Reed); and translators (Robert Fagles, Edmund Keeley). Correspondence of particular depth and duration includes that of biographer Greg Johnson.

Constituting the largest portion of the collection, Writings (Boxes 13-77) include any combination of notes, drafts, manuscripts, production records, and published material for Oates' Books, Essays, Libretto, Poetry, Reviews, Scripts, Stories, and Miscellany. Begun in 1973, Oates' Journal records family visits, writing projects, play productions, social engagements, teaching-related activities, travel itineraries, and philosophical musings. From the mid-1980s, the Journal consists mostly of copies of Oates' outgoing correspondence.

Arranged by type, Memorabilia (Boxes 78-94) encompasses Awards, Boxing-related materials, Criticism and interpretation, Financial and Legal materials, Photographs, Printed Publicity and Reviews for books and plays, and a large assortment of Audio- and Videocassettes and Tapes. Awards include certificates and plaques presented in recognition of Oates' literary achievements and honorary degrees from several institutions. Arranged by author, Criticism and interpretation includes both offprints of articles and unpublished essays by Eileen T. Bender, Gavin Cologne-Brookes, Gary Couzens, Joanne Creighton, Gerald F. Manning, Martha Nussbaum, Sally Robinson, and Victor Strandberg, among others. Financial and Legal materials include royalty statements (1974-1997) and contracts (1968-1997). Clippings about Oates (1965-1998); book publicity (by title); publicity and programs relating to conferences (1973-1997), lectures and readings (1975-1996), and plays and film adaptations (by title); and reviews (by title) constitute Printed material. Audio- and Videocassettes and Tapes include radio and television interviews, productions of plays, and recorded books.

Book translations consist of translations of Oates' works into nearly two dozen languages.


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.

Restrictions taken from AGREEMENT OF SALE dated 1/19/1990:

1. SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY shall not give access to Ms. Oates's unpublished writings during the lifetime of Joyce Carol Oates without her written permission. On the death of Joyce Carol Oates, access to these writings will be open to qualified scholars as determined by SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY.

Since material is sometimes published after it has been received and marked as "Unpublished," care should be taken in determining what is restricted under Item 1. To request permission for the use of restricted materials, please contact the Curator of Manuscripts and Archives.

2. SYRACUSE UNIVERSITY shall not give access to the writings of others (incoming correspondence) without the written permission of both Joyce Carol Oates/Ontario Review Inc. and the individual author(s) until January 1, 2025 or during Joyce Carol Oates's lifetime, whichever is shorter.

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.

Subject Headings


Adams, Alice, 1926-1999.
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor, 1939-
Banks, Russell, 1940-
Barth, John, 1930-
Barthelme, Donald.
Bellamy, Joe David.
Bender, Eileen Teper, 1935-
Bienen, Leigh B.
Bitker, Marjorie.
Boland, Eavan.
Boyers, Robert.
Buell, Frederick, 1942-
Butscher, Edward.
Calisher, Hortense.
Callaghan, Barry, 1937-
Carruth, Hayden, 1921-2008.
Coover, Robert.
Corsaro, Frank.
Creighton, Joanne V., 1942-
Curzon, Daniel.
Delbanco, Nicholas.
Didion, Joan.
Ditsky, John.
Ewert, William B.
Fagles, Robert.
Ford, Richard, 1944-
Franks, Lucinda.
Fromm, Harold.
Gardner, John, 1933-1982.
Garrett, George, 1929-2008.
Gibbons, Reginald.
Godwin, Gail.
Goldstein, Laurence, 1943-
Goyen, William.
Gray, Francine du Plessix.
Gregory, Blanche.
Halpern, Daniel, 1945-
Harpprecht, Klaus.
Harris, Jana.
Heyen, William, 1940-
Jacobsen, Josephine.
Johnson, Greg, 1953-
Keeley, Edmund.
King, Stephen, 1947-
Koch, Stephen, 1941-
Kumin, Maxine, 1925-2014.
Kunitz, Stanley, 1905-2006.
L'Heureux, John.
Lehman, David, 1948-
Levao, Ronald.
Levine, Philip, 1928-
Lindberg, Stanley W.
MacLeod, Alistair.
Mailer, Norman.
Malzberg, Barry N.
Marshall, Tom, 1938-1993.
Mazzaro, Jerome.
McBride, Mekeel, 1950-
McNamara, Eugene.
McPhillips, Robert.
Meisel, Perry.
Milazzo, Lee.
Morris, Mary, 1947-
Moser, Barry.
Nemerov, Howard.
Newman, Charles, 1938-2006.
Oates, Joyce Carol, 1938-
Ostriker, Alicia.
Ozick, Cynthia.
Parini, Jay.
Phillips, Robert S.
Pinsker, Sanford.
Ranard, John.
Reed, John Robert, 1938-
Robertson, Mary Elsie, 1937-
Rosenblatt, Roger.
Roth, Philip.
Rudenstine, Angelica Zander.
Rudenstine, Neil L.
Shapiro, David, 1947-
Showalter, Elaine.
Smith, Raymond J.
Sontag, Susan, 1933-2004.
Stanford, Donald E. (Donald Elwin), 1913-1998.
Stiles, Martha Bennett.
Theroux, Paul.
Trenner, Richard.
Tyler, Anne.
Updike, John.
Wakoski, Diane.
Weiss, Theodore Russell, 1916-2003.
Whelan, Gloria.
Wilson, Colin, 1931-2013.

Corporate Bodies

Ontario Review Press.


American fiction -- Women authors.
American literature -- Women authors.
American poetry -- Women authors.
Dramatists, American.
Novelists, American -- 20th century.
Poetry, Modern -- 20th century.
Poets, American -- 20th century.
Women authors -- 20th century.
Women dramatists, American.
Women novelists, American.
Women poets -- United States.
Women poets, American.

Genres and Forms

Book reviews.
Manuscripts for publication.
Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Joyce Carol Oates Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of / purchase from Joyce Carol Oates, 1972-

Table of Contents

Family correspondence



Book translations