The William E. Stafford Archives, Series 10, Sub-Series 2: General Biographical, 1950-2012

Overview of the Collection

Stafford, William, 1914-1993
The William E. Stafford Archives, Series 10, Sub-Series 2: General Biographical
1950-2012 (inclusive)
2 boxes, (1.5 cubic feet)
Collection Number
William Stafford (1914-1993) was one of the most prolific and important American poets of the last half of the twentieth century. This subseries of the collection includes general biographical materials about Stafford. The Index to the entire Stafford Archives can be found at:
Lewis & Clark College, Special Collections and Archives

Aubrey R. Watzek Library
615 S. Palatine Hill Rd.
Portland, OR
Telephone: 5037687758
Fax: 5037687282
Access Restrictions

This collection has no restrictions and is open for research.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

William Stafford (1914-1993) was one of the most prolific and important American poets of the last half of the twentieth century. Among his many credentials, Stafford served as consultant in poetry at the Library of Congress, and received the National Book Award for his poetry collection Traveling through the Dark (1963). During his lifetime, Stafford wrote over sixty books of poetry that still resonate with both scholars and general readers. Stafford’s perspectives on peace, the environment, and education serve as some of the most articulate and engaging dialogues by a modern American writer about three of the most important issues of the second half of the twentieth century with lasting impacts on future generations. Howard Zinn, one America’s most iconic modern historians, was keenly aware of Stafford’s insight into modern American culture. Zinn claimed, “William Stafford’s prose and poetry, wise and eloquent, speak directly to the violence of our time, and to our hope for a different world” (from cover of Every War Has Two Losers).

The William Stafford Archives, donated to Lewis & Clark College by the Stafford family in 2008, contain the private papers, publications, photographs, recordings, and teaching materials of the poet William Stafford. The Lewis & Clark College Special Collections actively add to this collection by acquiring unique Stafford related materials.

Stafford wrote every day of his life from 1950 to 1993. These 20,000 pages of daily writings form a complete record of the poet’s mostly early morning meditations, including poem drafts, dream records, aphorisms, and other visits to the unconscious, recorded on separate sheets of yellow or white paper or when traveling, often in spiral-bound reporters’ steno pads. The archive also includes typescripts of poems submitted for publication and for use in readings. Stafford listed where he submitted each poem, and whether it was accepted for publication on the typescript. Each of his published collections, large and small, is represented by its gathering of documentary copies (typescripts), called by Stafford a “put-together.” Unpublished poems, poems published in journals, and reading copies of published poems were also gathered, in a virtually complete record from 1937 to 1993, totaling about 7,000 items. The collection also includes copies of all known Stafford books and translations. Stafford saved correspondence received, with an indication of the date of reply, and sometimes a copy of the reply, from the early 1960s to August 1993. Estimated at 100,000 sheets, the collected correspondence contains some full exchanges of correspondence initiated by WS. One such exchange is the correspondence with Marvin Bell on their sequence Segues. In addition to many photographs of and relating to William Stafford, the archive includes an estimated 20,000 photographs and negatives taken and developed by Stafford of fellow poets, family, friends, and Lewis & Clark College faculty. The archive provides documentation of Stafford's teaching career, including more than one thousand index cards, some dating from research at Iowa, others from later. These were much used in preparing for classes, workshops, and lectures. The files also contain scattered notes for workshops and lectures. The archive also includes course syllabi, and faculty documents relating to Stafford's teaching years at Lewis & Clark College.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Includes copies, correspondence, certificates, and other assembled biographical content about William Stafford.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish, exhibit, broadcast, or quote from materials in the Watzek Library Archives & Special Collections requires written permission of the Head of Archives & Special Collections.

Preferred Citation

The William Stafford Archives, Lewis & Clark College Aubrey Watzek Library Archives & Special Collections, Portland, Oregon.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


Arranged chronologically.

Location of Collection

Special Collections

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

The following section contains a detailed listing of the materials in the collection.

Awards and Diplomas, 1935-2009Return to Top

Container(s): Box 1

Container(s) Description Dates
El Dorado Junior College, Kansas: Diploma
23 x 24 cm.
Portfolio diploma declaring William E. Stafford has completed the courses of study as prescribed by the Board of Education.
May 31, 1935
State University of Iowa: Diploma
16 x 21 cm.
State University of Iowa portfolio diploma conferring upon William Edgar Stafford the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
February 6, 1954
Lewis & Clark College Grateful Recognition Citation
31 x 46 cm.
Citation read to Lewis & Clark faculty at the First Annual Faculty Recognition Banquet, May 14th 1963.
December 30, 1963
Poetry Society of America: Shelley Memorial Award Program and Notification Letter
The Poetry Society of America 54th anniversary dinner program and notification letter to William Stafford announcing him as the winner of the Shelley Memorial Award.
January 23, 1964
University of Oregon: Award for Distinguished Service
23 x 29 cm.
Portfolio award for distinguished service presented to William Edgar Stafford from the University of Oregon.
Linfield College, McMinnville, Oregon: Diploma
20 x 15 cm.
Diploma bestowing William Edgar Stafford the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters [Honorary].
May 17, 1970
Oberlin College, OH: Commencement Program and Citation
Commencement program and citation conferring William Stafford for an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters.
May 23, 1971
Oberlin College, OH: Diploma
17 x 23 cm.
Oberlin College portfolio diploma conferring upon William Edgar Stafford the degree of Doctor of Letters.
May 23, 1971
Oregon's Fourth Poet Laureate: Governor Tom McCall Citation
28 x 22 cm.
Remarks from Governor Tom McCall on the occasion of the presentation of William E. Stafford as Oregon's fourth Poet Laureate, Portland Art Museum.
April 29, 1974
Phi Kappa Phi: Membership Award
22 x 28 cm.
Election award declaring William Stafford a member of the Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
May 10, 1977
Willamette University, OR: Diploma and Citation
20 x 26 cm. [Diploma]
Diploma conferring William Stafford the degree of Doctor of Literature, and copy of speech given by presenter of award.
May 13, 1979
Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon: Aubrey R. Watzek Citation Award
38 x 22 cm.
Lewis & Clark College Board of Trustees, Aubrey R. Watzek citation award presented to William Stafford.
March 6, 1979
Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon: Aubrey R. Watzek Award Statue
18 x 8 cm. [diameter]
Lewis & Clark College, Aubrey R. Watzek Award statue presented to William E. Stafford.
March 6, 1979
The Governor of Oregon: Award
26 x 21 cm.
Award presented to William Stafford from Oregon Governor Victor Atiyeh recognizing Stafford's exceptional contribution to the liveliness and quality of the arts in Oregon.
February 5, 1982
State of Idaho: Poet Laureate Panel Award
38 x 28 cm.
Award presented to William Stafford by Idaho Governor John V. Evans appointing Stafford as a member of the Idaho Poet Laureate Panel.
May 10, 1983
Seattle Pacific University: Diploma
17 x 22 cm.
Seattle Pacific University portfolio diploma conferring upon William Edgar Stafford the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.
June 3, 1983
Seattle Pacific University: Citation Award and Program
28 x 22 cm.
Citation award and program conferring William Stafford the Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters [Honorary].
June 5, 1983
Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA: Diploma, Program and Speech
22 x 26 cm. [Diploma]
Portfolio diploma conferring upon William A. Stafford the degree of Doctor of Letters from Gonzaga University. Included are copies of Gonzaga Presidents speech, and commencement program.
May 11, 1986
Fellowship of Reconciliation: Certificate of Merit
28 x 22 cm.
Certificate of merit presented to William and Dorothy Stafford recognizing over 50 years of commitment to the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
May 24, 1986
Western Oregon State College Distinguished Service Award
36 x 28 cm.
ca. 1987
Western States Book Award: Poetry lifetime achievement award
36 x 22 cm.
Poetry lifetime achievement award presented to William Stafford by the Western States Arts Federation for "My Name is William Tell" [Confluence Press].
Search for Peace: Peacemaker Prize
6 cm. [diameter]
Bronze medallion on ribbon awarded posthumously to William Stafford by The Search For Peace group founded in Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon.

Oversized Awards and Diplomas, 1935-2009Return to Top

Container(s): Box 1

Container(s) Description Dates
The National Book Award
40 x 41 cm.
Certificate for the most distinguished work of poetry by an American author published in 1962.
March 12, 1963
Oregon State Poetry Association: Honor of achievement in poetry
31 x 41 cm.
Award presented to William Stafford by the Oregon State Poetry Association for his distinguished achievement in the writing of poetry.
October 15, 1966
City of Eldorado, KS: Certificate of Honorary Citizenship
24 x 30 cm.
Framed certificate from the city of Eldorado, KS conferring upon William E. Stafford honorary citizenship.
April 27, 1971
Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award
31 x 41 cm.
Presented at the Eleventh Annual Meeting.
October 9, 1976
Metropolitan Arts Commission: Award
39 x 58 cm.
Award presented to William Stafford from the Metropolitan Arts Commission in appreciation for the excellence to the arts in our community.
Women in Communications: Edith Knight Hill Award
33 x 26 cm.
Mounted plaque on wood base, Edith Knight Hill Award to Dr. William E. Stafford by the Portland Professional Chapter of Women in Communications Inc., for contributions to the state of Oregon.
May 1, 1981
Washington College, Maryland: Diploma
51 x 41 cm.
Diploma conferring William Edgar Stafford the degree of Doctor of Literature [Honorary].
May 17, 1981
City of Dodge City, KS: Honorary Deputy Marshal Award
30 x 24 cm.
Framed certificate from the city of Dodge City, office of the Marshal appointing William Stafford to the rank of Honorary Deputy Marshal of Dodge City.
September 14, 1983
Butler County Community College: Recognition Award
23 x 28 cm.
Framed recognition award presented to William Stafford by the Butler County Community College for outstanding accomplishments in the field of creative writing.
November 8, 1986
Willamette Writers: Lifetime Achievement Award
18 x 23 cm.
Mounted plaque on wood base, Lifetime Achievement Award presented to William Stafford from the Willamette Writers.
August 10, 1991
Oregon Association of Broadcasters: Tom McCall Award
26 x 21 cm.
Mounted plaque on wood base, Oregon Association of Broadcasters, Tom McCall Award presented to William Stafford for outstanding service to the state and nation.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Pacifism--Poetry.
  • Pacifism--United States.
  • Poetry -- Authorship.
  • Poetry -- Study and teaching.
  • Poetry--20th century.
  • Poets, American--20th century.
  • World War, 1939-1945 -- Conscientious objectors -- United States.

Personal Names

  • Stafford, Dorothy
  • Stafford, William, 1914-1993--Archives

Corporate Names

  • Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Or.)

Geographical Names

  • Kansas.
  • Oregon.

Other Creators

  • Personal Names
    • Stafford, Kim (creator)