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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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Series II: Writings, 1956-2009
Series V: Teaching Materials, 1982-2009
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in seven series.
Scope and Content
The Hettie Jones Papers include the manuscripts of many of Jones' books, poetry, and short fiction, including multiple drafts of Jones' autobiography How I Became Hettie Jones, as well as her various poetry collections and children's books. The collection contains a number of items related to LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, including unpublished poems, letters, and photographs. There is also extensive correspondence of Jones with many key poets and writers of the New York literary scene and beyond, as well as photographs depicting Downtown and Bohemian life in postwar New York.
The correspondence represents over fifty years of Jones' life, ranging from letters and notes from recognizable figures in the Beat/Downtown arts and jazz scene, to a large amount of communication with Jones' daughters, Kellie and Lisa, and other family members. There is also correspondence between Jones and her former husband, poet LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka.
The manuscript series contains Jones' published and unpublished poetry and fiction, manuscript drafts of many of her children's/young adult novels, and various drafts of How I Became Hettie Jones. Also included in this series are items pertaining to Jones' work as editor of Yugen literary magazine.
A large segment of the collection consists of material related to Jones' teaching at various New York City colleges, universities, and prisons, including syllabi, lesson plans, and student work. Much of this material is restricted.
This collection also holds material about the Cohen family, including original immigration and naturalization documents of Jones' relatives from the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century, as well as items from Jones' high school and university education. The personal and family materials series also contains photographs, documents, and unpublished writings of Jones' former husband LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka.
Also within this collection are audio/visual material, recordings, featuring readings by Jones and other poets, and photos of Jones' family and 'bohemian' life in New York's Lower East Side in the Fifties and Sixties.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located primarily off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Some unique time-based media items have been reformatted and are available onsite via links in the container list. Commercial materials are not routinely digitized. Remaining original copies of audio / moving image media are closed until reformatting in 2020.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Hettie Jones Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.University Library.
Selected Related Material-- At Columbia
Beat Poetry and Papers, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Kulchur Foundation Records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University
Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) Collection, Syracuse University
Amiri Baraka Collection of Unpublished Poetry, new York Public Library
Carol Berge Papers, University of Texas—Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
Christopher Felver Portraits of Poets, Authors, and Artists, The Bancroft Library, University oCalifornia, Berkeley
Diane Di Prima Papers, Syracuse University
(Everett) LeRoi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) Papers, Syracuse University
Imamu Amiri Baraka Manuscripts [ca. 1974-1979], New York Public Library
Literary Correspondence and Manuscript Collection, University of Connecticut Libraries
Additional materials expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Aaron Winslow (Columbia University 2014) 06/--/2010.
Finding aid written Aaron Winslow (Columbia University 2014) 07/--/2010.
2011-01-05 xml document instance created by Carrie Hintz
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
2019-08-29 Added note re AV boxes in rsc. kws
2020-07-08 Added links to first batch of digitizd material. kws
History / Biographical Note
Hettie Jones (nee Cohen, 1934- ) was a major figure in the New York literary avant-garde of the 1950s and 1960s. Born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, Jones returned to New York City after attending Mary Washington College, then the women's college of the University of Virginia. She found work as an editorial and clerical assistant at Partisan Review and lived in the East Village. Alongside her husband LeRoi Jones (later Amiri Baraka)--with whom she had two children, Kellie and Lisa--she edited and produced the Downtown little magazine, Yugen, which published such seminal poets and writers as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Diane DiPrima, and Charles Olson. Later Jones wrote and published her own poetry and fiction, which has recently garnered critical acclaim. In 1999 Jones received the Poetry Society of America's Norma Farber First Book Award for her collection Drive.
Jones is perhaps best known for her memoir, How I Became Hettie Jones, which provides a detailed portrait of the Downtown and Beat literary scene of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as of her marriage to, and divorce from, African American poet LeRoi Jones, and the difficulties of an interracial relationship in the Civil Rights era.
Jones has been a prolific writer, producing a number of poetry collections including Drive, For Four Hetties, All Told, and Doing Seventy. Much of her writing has been for youth, and she has written many children and young adult novels and non-fiction books, such as ig Star Fallin' Mama, Five Women in Black Music (honored by the New York Public Library), and From Midnight to Dawn. With Rita Marley, the widow of reggae singer Bob Marley, Jones authored the memoir No Woman No Cry.
Jones also served as the Chair of the PEN Prison Writing Committee, subsequently editing two poetry collections derived from workshops she taught at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, More In than Out and Aliens at the Border. Having spent much of her professional life teaching creative writing at New York City area colleges and universities, Jones currently teaches in the graduate program in creative writing at The New School, as well as at New York's 92nd Street Y Poetry Center.