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Allen Polite Papers

Identifier: 2010-0117

Scope and Content

The collection contains handwritten manuscripts by Allen Polite of poetry, prose, aphorisms, dialogues, songs and a play for voices; early writing and student work; notebooks including drafts and notes; transcriptions of poetry by Helene Polite; published works edited and produced by Helene Polite, and a self-portrait in watercolor.


  • 1955-1993.


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner of the copyright.


Writer and artist Allen Polite (1932-1993) was born in Newark, NJ. He was raised and went to school there until he was drafted into the United States Army. He served in Korea and Japan in 1952 and 1953. Polite settled in Greenwich Village, and between 1954 and 1956, studied philosophy at Columbia University. After 1958, he worked at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The writer LeRoi Jones acknowledged Polite as his 'mentor' in his Autobiography and first published Polite's poetry in 1958 in the magazine Yugen. In the early 1960s Polite worked on a novel (never completed) and a long cycle of poetry and prose called "The Dead Seeds," but he refused to publish his work. Polite's writing was included in Sixes and Sevens, An Anthology of New Poetry (Paul Breman, London, 1962), and Langston Hughes' New Negro Poets, U.S.A. published in 1964. Carlene Hatcher Polite in her first novel The Flagellants, published initially in France in 1966, featured the relationship of a young couple that is partially based on her relationship with Allen Polite.

In 1963 Polite left New York for Paris, London, and Stockholm, where he visited his friend the artist Harvey Cropper. He decided to settle in Stockholm, where he joined an international group of artists which centered on a number of black Americans already resident there. Polite began drawing and painting in addition to his writing, and in 1964 he organized and sponsored the exhibition "10 American Negro Artists Living and Working in Europe" at Den Frie, the largest gallery in Copenhagen. To support himself, Polite took a job as a clerk at CWZ Grafiska AB, a company that supplied material for the graphic industry, and subsequently gained the position of head buyer for bookbinding material. In Sweden he met Helene Etzelsdorfer who remained his companion, and later his wife, from 1963 until his death from cancer in 1993. She prepared Allen's work for publication and privately published three volumes including Poems (1996), The Rice and Fiol of the Turd Rake (1996), a 'rhapsodic play for three voices', and Looka Here, Now! (1997), poems from the 1950s.


11 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Handwritten manuscripts, notebooks, letters, typed transcriptions of poetry, prose and a play for voices, by Allen Polite, writer and artist affiliated with the Black Arts Movement. Published works of Allen Polite's poetry, and transcriptions, produced by his widow Helene Polite can be found throughout.


Handwritten manuscripts and notebooks are filed with typed transcriptions by Helene Polite. Titles for individual texts are linked in this inventory to their location in the collection, and additionally, are filed in hardcopy with their associated manuscripts.

Series I: Box Inventory (1955-1993)

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Helene Polite in September 2010, with the generous assistance of Samuel and Ann Charters.

Related Material

Detailed information regarding the contents of the Allen Polite Papers can be found online at

Related materials can be found in the literary manuscript collections at Archives & Special Collections. Contact the Curator of Literary Collections for more information.

Allen Polite Papers
Archives & Special Collections staff
2011 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US