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Leon Forrest (1937-1997) Papers

Identifier: 11/3/1/3
Biographical Files are arranged chronologically. Biographical materials include Forrest's curriculum vitae and a chronology of his life and works (box 1, folder 1), a photocopy of pages from the family bible listing significant birthdays and events (box 1, folder 2), awards and certificates, photocopies of pages from Aitchpe, his Hyde Park High School yearbook, newspaper clippings, and correspondence (relating mostly to his work at Northwestern). The records within each file are arranged chronologically.

The Northwestern University sub-series is comprised mostly of class notes and research notes for his classes and writings. These notes are in no particular order. There are also folders relating to his teaching and as head of the Department of African American studies. The records within these three folders are arranged chronologically.

Folders in the Books and Publications sub-series contain manuscripts, galley and page proofs of his first four novels, and other writings. The folders containing the novels, There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden, “Sub-Rosa”—published previously and later incorporated into There is a Tree More Ancient than Eden–The Bloodworth Orphans, Two Wings to Veil My Face, and Divine Days are arranged in order of publication. Of particular interest is the forward, signed by Toni Morrison to Two Wings to Veil My Face (box 4, folder 3). This sub-series also includes articles by and about Forrest, the libretto to the opera Soldier, Boy Soldier, reviews of Forrest's books, and the manuscript for Leon Forrest, Introduction, and Interpretation,–a collection of literary critiques of Forrest's work edited by his friend John C. Cawelti. Box 8 contains the undated musical scores forAncestral Voices and Soldier Boy, Soldier with music by composer T. J. Anderson and words by Forrest.


  • 1952-1998


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored off-site and requires 48 hours advance notice for retrieval. Please contact us at or 847-491-3136 to schedule an appointment to view the collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to use Box 1, Folder 10 must be sought from the University Archivist. This folder also contains original versions of the redacted copies found in folders 8 and 9 of this box.


11.00 Boxes


Leon Richard Forrest was born January 8, 1937 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago to Adelaide Green Forrest (1920-1964) and Leon Forrest, Sr. (1918-1971). Forrest served as chairman of the Northwestern African American Studies department from 1985 to 1994, and also held a professorship in the English department.The Leon Forrest Papers consist of 8 boxes spanning the years 1954 to 1998. The bulk of the papers consist of manuscripts and proofs of his first four novels.

Method of Acquisition

The Leon Forrest Papers include materials transferred to the University Archives by the Department of African-American Studies (Accession No. 93-106 on August 18, 1993), and materials donated by Kathleen Bethel (Accession No. 97-154 on September 8, 1992), by Leon Forrest (Accession No. 96-95 on June 25, 1996), and by Marianne Forrest via Jerral West (Accession No. 98-115 on June 26, 1998). Biographical materials from the University Archives' Faculty Biographical Files were also incorporated into the Papers.

Addition, 1954-1999, Boxes 9-11. This addition to the Leon Forrest Papers was donated to the University Archives by Marianne Forrest on August 17, 2001, as Accession Number 01-134.

Addition, 1978, Box 8This score was separated from Accession Number 03-104, Records of the Music School, on July 14, 2003.

Separated Materials

Approximately four inches of duplicate or extraneous matter were discarded. Three wooden liquor boxes, which originally housed Forrest's manuscripts, were transferred to the University Archives' artifacts collection.

Processing Information

Peter Gunther February 7, 2001.

Addition, 1954-1999, Boxes 9-11. Janet Olson, December 2001.

Addition, 1978, Box 8. Janet Olson, July 2003.
Guide to the Leon Forrest (1937-1997) Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US