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Princeton University Library Collection of Amiri Baraka Materials


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections


Amiri Baraka (1934-2014), born Everett Leroy Jones in Newark, New Jersey, was an American writer of poetry, drama, fiction, essays and music criticism.

This is an open collection of manuscripts and other papers, such as publication documentation and notebooks, dating from the mid 1970s to 1980s, related to the writings of American author Amiri Baraka.

Multiple materials relate to Primitive World: An Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical for which Baraka wrote the script. With music written by saxophonist David Murray, the musical was performed for a week in January 1984 at Sweet Basil in New York City. Also included is a typescript of the introduction to Daggers and Javelins: Essays, 1974-1979.

There are also drafts of Classic Blues (1963) and Cosby and the Music (mid 1980s).

A majority of the description is based on dealer description.

The arrangement of how materials came to the Library has been maintained. Materials are arranged in the order in which they were accessioned.

Materials in this collection were acquired via multiple purchases beginning in 2020.

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in December 2021. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in December 2021.

No materials were removed from the collection during 2021-2022 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Author
Faith Charlton
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Collection Inventory

Primitive World: An Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical Notebook , circa 1984. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

A spiral notebook titled Job Book that contains various notes by Baraka on a number of topics, including travels, meetings, contracts, and debts, mostly regarding his play Primitive World: An Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical. The notebook includes 15 pages of writing and is signed within the text.

Physical Description

1 folder

Primitive World: An Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical Materials, circa 1984.
Scope and Contents

Includes multiple materials of Baraka's "Anti-Nuclear Jazz Musical in Memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.": two photocopied typescripts, one 52 pages and the other 47 pages; more than a dozen contracts for various members, most signed by Baraka; 17 pages of autograph notes, in ink on various sizes of paper, regarding changes, costumes, contracts, debts, etc.; as well as flyers, press releases, etc.

Daggers and Javelins: Essays, 1974-1979, Typescript Introduction, 1982.
Scope and Contents

Signed typed manuscript of the introduction to Daggers and Javelins: Essays, 1974-1979. Seven pages with approximately 15 autograph emendations in pen. The bottom of the last page is signed "Amiri Baraka/Manhattan Community/Correctional Facility, Oct. 82."

Blues People: Negro Music in White America Typescript Draft of Chapter on Classic Blues, circa 1963. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Consists of a corrected typescript draft of a chapter titled "Classic Blues" ("Chapter VII") from Blues People: Negro Music in White America, published in 1963 by Amiri Baraka (as LeRoi Jones). Each page of the typescript has dozens of changes, showing Baraka's writing process. Several pages have entire paragraphs crossed out, and another page has the lyrics of a blues song, "Put It Right Here," with Baraka's notation to the editor to insert them.

Physical Description

1 folder

"Cosby and the Music" Manuscript Draft, circa mid 1980s. 1 folder.
Scope and Contents

Consists of a manuscript draft of "Cosby & the Music," which was derived from a conversation between Baraka and Bill Cosby (1937- ) that took place between sets at Caesar's Palace, where Cosby was performing. The piece first appeared in the program for the Playboy Jazz Festival, an annual event which Cosby hosted for 30 years. This draft is entirely in Baraka's hand with edits, additions, and deletions on nearly every page. There is a handwritten note that reads: "Commissioned by Cosby – ran in Playboy Jazz Festival Program 86." The work was later collected in the 2009 book, Diggin: The Afro-American Should of American Classical Music.

Physical Description

1 folder

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