bell hooks papers
Scope and Contents
The bell hooks papers comprise fourteen boxes of business and personal correspondence, published and unpublished writings, news clippings, photographs, and other records documenting the life, research interests, and career of bell hooks. Dr. hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins, 1952-2021) was a scholar, author, and educator, who worked to expose and dismantle the inter-related social ills of sexism, racism, and classism. Her work also explored the meaning and power of love as a tool in the quest for reconciliation and building a more just society.
- Creation: Circa 1960-2020
- Creation: Majority of material found within 1980-2015
- hooks, bell -- 1952-2021 (Collector, Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Most materials in this archival collection are available for use in the Special Collections and Archives reading room. Private correspondences with family members and close friends in Series 1 are restricted while the correspondents are living. Access to these letters for research purposes requires permission of the bell hooks estate.
Conditions Governing Use
Researchers may take pictures with their own devices or request scans of a few selected items for research use only. The researcher must abide by all fair use guidelines. All requests to publish or quote shall require the written permission of the bell hooks estate.
Noted intellectual, feminist theorist, cultural critic, artist, poet, and public speaker Gloria Jean Watkins (aka bell hooks) was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky on September 25, 1952, one of the six children of Rosa Bell Oldham Watkins and Veodis Watkins. She graduated from Hopkinsville High School and earned degrees in English Literature from Stanford University (B.A., 1973), the University of Wisconsin-Madison (M.A., 1976) and the University of California-Santa Cruz (PhD, 1986). Watkins chose the lower case pen name bell hooks, based on her maternal great-grandmother's name, to draw attention to her writings instead of drawing attention to herself.
Dr. hooks wrote prolifically. Her bibliography includes scholarly and popular articles, book chapters, and more than forty books, including five children’s books. She taught at UC-Santa Cruz, Yale University, Oberlin College, and City College of New York. bell hooks moved to Berea, Kentucky in 2004 to serve as Distinguished Professor in Residence of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. In 2014 she established the bell hooks Institute at Berea College as a platform for furthering her work. In 2018 hooks was inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.
Dr. hooks died in Berea on December 15, 2021.
6.8 Cubic Feet
Language of Materials
The bell hooks papers comprise fourteen boxes of business and personal correspondence, published and unpublished writings, news clippings, photographs, and other records documenting the life, research interests, and career of bell hooks. Dr. hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins, 1952-2021) was a scholar, author, and educator, who worked to expose and dismantle many forms of systemic inequality including sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia. Her work also explored the meaning and power of love as a tool in the quest for reconciliation and building a more just society.
The collection is arranged in five series:
Series 1: Correspondence, 1985-2018
Series 2: Writings and Publishing, 1970-2019
Subseries 1: Articles, books, and book chapters
Subseries 2: Interviews, Dialogues, and Conversations
Subseries 3: Poems, Plays, and Children's Books
Subseries 4: Unpublished Writings
Series 3: Research and Teaching files, 1984-2006
Series 4: Photographs, Recordings, and Electronic Data, circa 1955-2017
Series 5: Professional and Personal Data, 1976-2018
Source of Acquisition
bell hooks (Gloria Jean Watkins)
Method of Acquisition
Other Descriptive Information
Processed by Rachel Vagts and Aminata Dia, 2016. Reprocessed by Timothy S. Binkley with the assistance of Alexandrea Hicks, 2021-2022. Finding aid updated by Timothy S. Binkley, 2023.
- Finding Aid to the bell hooks papers
- Under Revision
- Timothy S. Binkley
- 2023 revision
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- 2021-2022: Additions incorporated and finding aid revised by Timothy S. Binkley and Alexanndrea Hicks, 2021-2022.
- 2023 June: Finding Aid updated by Timothy S. Binkley.