Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Thomas Francis Parkinson papers, 1950-1985

Summary Information


The Thomas Parkinson Papers contain correspondence between Parkinson and members of the San Francisco literary scene, such as beat poets Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen. The collection also includes manuscripts written by Parkinson and his friends and associates.

At a Glance

Call No.: MS#0974
Bib ID 4078533 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Parkinson, Thomas Francis, 1920- ; Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997 ; Corso, Gregory ; McClure, Michael ; Snyder, Gary, 1930- ; Whalen, Philip
Title Thomas Francis Parkinson papers, 1950-1985
Physical Description 1 linear feet (2 document boxes)
Language(s) English .

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.



Selected items cataloged; remainder arranged.


Scope and Content

The collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, and printed ephemera related to Thomas Parkinson and his involvement in the San Francisco Renaissance literary scene.

  • Series I: Correspondence, 1950-1985

    The correspondence series is comprised of letters to and from Parkinson related to his involvement in the literary scene of the beat generation and the San Francisco Renaissance.

  • Series II: Manuscripts, 1957-1980

    The Manuscripts series includes manuscripts of poetry by Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen, as well as a collection of publishing announcements and gallery invitations for writers and artists associated with the San Francisco poetry scene. This series also includes a manuscript of Michael McClure's book of essays, Wolf Net, inscribed to Tom and his wife Ariel.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

This collection is located on-site.

This collection has no restrictions.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

Preferred Citation

Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Thomas Francis Parkinson Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.


Materials may have been added to the collection since this finding aid was prepared. Contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

Ownership and Custodial History

Purchase, 1987; l988.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Method of acquisition--Purchase, 400-10.16.87; Date of acquisition--10/16/87. Accession number--M-87-10-16.

Gary Snyder letters, manuscripts, and photographs: Source of acquisition--Serendipity Books. Method of acquisition--Purchase-297-08.l6.88; Date of acquisition--08/16/88. Accession number--M-88-08-16.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Processed 04/07/88 PL

Gary Snyder letters, manuscripts, and photographs. Processed 09/26/88 PL

Reprocessed 07/12/10 by Carrie Hintz

Revision Description

2010-07-13 File created.

2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Correspondence Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID


Heading "CUL Archives:"
"CUL Collections:"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
Beats (Persons) Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Bohemianism Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
College teachers Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Parkinson, Thomas Francis, 1920- Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID
Poets, American -- 20th century Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical sketch

Thomas Parkinson was a professor of literature at the University of California Berkeley, a poet, political activist, and scholar of William Butler Yeats and the writers and culture of the Beat Generation.

Parkinson was born in San Francisco in 1920. He grew up in the Haight-Ashbury district with his father, a plumber and union leader. His father's political and union activities shaped Parkinson's own political views, and he remained a committed political activist throughout his life.

Parkinson graduated from Lowell High School and attended some courses at a junior college, but left to do odd jobs and a brief stint in the army before returning to the University of California Berkeley. He completed his Bachelor's, and then his PhD at Berkeley and stayed on to teach as faculty member in the English Department. He remained at Berkeley for the entirety of his career as a scholar, and was awarded the University's highest honor, the Berkeley Citation, in 1991.

In addition to his activities as a scholar, Parkinson was a poet who was involved in the art and literary scene in the San Francisco area in the 1950s and 1960s. He was friendly with poets such as Michael McClure, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Robert Duncan, and Allen Ginsberg, and wrote an early academic analysis of beat poetry entitles A Casebook of the Beat in 1961.

Thomas Parkinson died of a heart attack in 1992, survived by his wife, the artist and theatrical designer Ariel Parkinson.