George Oppen Letters, 1930-1982 (MSS 205)

Restrictions: Copies of Oppen letters in this collection that are identified as being held in the original elsewhere may not be photoduplicated. Researchers wishing to quote from the unpublished Oppen letters in Series 3 are required to ask for permission from Rachel Blau DuPlessis.

Extent: 1.4 Linear feet (4 archive boxes)

Research files compiled by Rachel Blau DuPlessis concerning American poet George Oppen, comprising photocopies of Oppen's letters (1930-1982), copies of Oppen's FBI file, and miscellaneous correspondence between DuPlessis and others pertaining to those Oppen materials. The results of DuPlessis's research were published in The Selected Letters of George Oppen (1990). The addition processed in 1993 consists of letters from George Oppen to Rachel Blau DuPlessis from August 1965 to April 1977.

An Oppen family friend for more than twenty years, Rachel Blau DuPlessis is Professor of English at Temple University. She is also both a poet and literary critic. Among her publications are Writing Beyond the Ending: Narrative Strategies of Twentieth-Century Women's Writing (1985) and H.D.: The Career of that Struggle (1986).

In 1980, George and Mary Oppen gave DuPlessis permission to collect, select and edit George's letters. The collected letters were culled from holdings at numerous institutions and in private hands, including libraries at UC San Diego, Yale, Harvard, AND SUNY-Buffalo.

Accession Processed in 1992

Primarily photocopies of the collected letters (1930 to 1982) of Objectivist American poet George Oppen, from which DuPlessis edited and published The Selected Letters of George Oppen (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1990). Also included is a censored photocopy of Oppen's FBI file (1941 to 1966) acquired in 1988 through the Freedom of Information Act. Occasional research notes dot the collection, and some of DuPlessis's inquiries regarding letters and the responses from correspondents are also included.

Arranged in two series:1) CORRESPONDENCE and 2) FBI MATERIALS

Accession Processed in 1993

43 typed letters, 1 autograph letter, 1 telegram, and 1 invitation that George Oppen sent to Rachel Blau DuPlessis between August 1965 and April 1977. Researchers wishing to quote from letters in this series are required to ask for permission from Rachel Blau DuPlessis.

Arranged in one series: 1) LETTERS FROM G. OPPEN TO R. BLAU DUPLESSIS

Container List

Accession Processed in 1992


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) CORRESPONDENCE: Letters, mainly photocopies, the bulk of which were originally written between 1963 and 1976, arranged chronologically. Prominent correspondents include family members June Oppen Degnan and Linda Oppen Mourelatos; poets William Bronk, Cid Gorman, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, David Ignatow, Robert Kelly, Denise Levertov, Ezra Pound, Charles Reznikoff, Jerome Rothenberg, John Taggart, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky, and others; editors, publishers, and professors, including John Crawford, L.S. Dembo, Milton Hindus, Eric Homberger, Hugh Kenner, David McAleavey. Oppen's letters detail his life not only at the forefront of contemporary American poetry, but en famille. In them he reveals his love of conversation, his coming to fame, his various public stances, his aesthetic opinions and positions, his participation in publishing. The CORRESPONDENCE series also includes "Miscellaneous queries," which contain name and address lists of Oppen correspondents, DuPlessis's letters of inquiry,and negative, but at times anecdotal, responses to her letters.

Box 1 Folder 1
1930 - 1934
Box 1 Folder 2
1935 - 1955
Box 1 Folder 3-9
1958 - 1964
Box 2 Folder 1-7
1966 - 1972
Box 3 Folder 1-10
1973 - 1982
Box 3 Folder 11
Miscellaneous queries, 1980 - 1989


Box 4 Folder 1
DuPlessis correspondence with CIA/FBI regarding Oppen's FBI file, 1980 - 1989

Correspondence with CIA and FBI regarding opening of G. Oppen's file.

Box 4 Folder 2-3
FBI file, 1941 - 1956

Accession Processed in 1993


Box 4 Folder 4
Oppen to DuPlessis, 1965 - 1966

(36 leaves)

Box 4 Folder 5
Oppen to DuPlessis, 1966 - 1969

(21 leaves)

Box 4 Folder 6
Oppen to DuPlessis, 1969 - 1977

(19 leaves)