October 21, 2014

Toni Morrison archives going to Princeton’s library collection


Toni Morrison's papers are going to Princeton University's library collection. ©Olga Besnard / via Shutterstock

Toni Morrison’s papers are going to Princeton University’s library collection.
©Olga Besnard / via Shutterstock

Nobel laureate Toni Morrison has agreed to give the archive of her papers to Princeton University, where she spent many years as a professor. A statement from the Ivy League institution on Friday states that as of October 17, her prolific papers are now officially part of its permanent library collection.

Princeton held a conference for black alumni last week, where university president Christopher L. Eisgruber made the announcement, following a tribute to the author by trustee Ruth Simmons, and before Morrison was interviewed on-stage by Claudia Brodsky, a professor of comparative literature. You can see the video tribute to Morrison and her work at Princeton here:

Gifts from Princeton University on Vimeo.

Morrison spent seventeen years at Princeton, and received an honorary degree in 2013; in a reading at the university in 2012, she told the crowd that teaching was a longtime passion of hers, describing it as “the second best thing to writing for me.” Eisgruber was effusive about bringing her archive to the school’s library, saying:

Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched, and I am overjoyed that we are adding her papers to the Princeton University Library’s collections. This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison’s remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works. We at Princeton are fortunate that Professor Morrison brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy.

The papers that have gone into the collection include manuscripts for novels — such as The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, Beloved, and Jazz — materials for Morrison’s children’s literature, lyrics, lectures, nonfiction writing, a play, correspondence, diaries, photographs, course materials, and videotape; not to mention published editions of her work in more than twenty languages. All told, they come to 180 linear feet of materials, and are on display at the Firestone Library through November 24.


Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.