Will Inman papers, 1910-2009

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Inman , Will, 1923-2009
Will Inman (1943-2009) was a poet, essayist, editor, and publisher. Collection contains correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, clippings, and printed material that document the life and literary career of Inman.
69.5 Linear Feet
Materials in English.
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The correspondence, diaries, manuscripts, clippings, and printed material in the Will Inman Papers span from 1939-1999, and serve to document the life and literary career of the poet, essayist, editor, educator, and publisher.

Inman was a prolific corespondent and maintained regular correspondent relationships with his friends and family, as well as with his readers and other editors and authors. He also regularly wrote to political and social figures during the 1960s. These letters to public and political figures express admiration and voice concerns about political events and social conditions. Inman protested in favor of civil rights, ending the war in Vietnam, and various environmental causes, and his letters reflect his thoughts and opinions on these subjects. Inman was also in regular contact with the editors and publishers of various literary magazines and the letters to these individuals document his efforts to publish his work. The collection holds many of Inman's out going correspondence as he regularly kept copies of his own letters.

Inman's copious diaries provide almost daily detail of his life from 1950-1994. In his diaries Inman recorded daily events, poetic inspirations, and his responses to world events. The diaries also include information about the poetry he is working on and several include typescripts of completed poems.

Inman also kept detailed records concerning his completed writings. He kept typescript copies of his poems and other writings, ordering them chronologically into notebooks, and recording publication information onto the typescripts. In organizing this collection, Inman's notebooks were discarded, but the typescripts maintain the order they held while bound in the notebooks, and serve to provide a chronological overview of Inman's published and unpublished writings.

This collection also contains copies of several of the anthologies and literary magazines where Inman published his work and several of the poetic monographs that Inman authored.

Inman regularly published his early work in newspapers in North Carolina. The collection contains clippings of these early published works as well as clippings of Inman's mid 1960's newspaper column "Conchsounds in the Hills."

There are also photographs of the McGirt family from ca. 1910, chiefly mounted in albums, as well as Inman's baby book from 1923. (16 accessions from 1998 and 1999) (35,475 items, 59 linear feet; dated 1910-1999)

The addition (accession #2001-0195) (1676 items, 2.7 linear feet; dated 1940-2001, bulk 1976-2001) comprises mainly personal correspondence to and from Inman and Jimmy Santiago Baca, 1971-1995, including typescript poetry. It also includes typescript poetry by Inman as Bill McGirt, 1940-1956; other poetry by Inman; professional correspondence; and a journal kept by Inman, 2000-2001.

The addition (accession #2002-0143) (2250 items, 3.60 linear feet; dated 1982-2001) consists primarily of incoming and outgoing personal correspondence. Topics include Inman's poems, publication work, and his political activites. There is also poetry and prose by Inman and others, and 20 black-and-white and 148 color photographs.

The addition (accession #2003-0124 and 2003-0181)(2775 items, 3.6 linear feet; dated 1957-2003, bulk 1970-1989) contains published and unpublished typescript poetry written by Will Inman. Also includes literary newsletters, periodicals and brochures; a notebook containing poetry, biographical information and professional correspondence; and a paperweight.

Addition (2009-0263) (500 items, 0.6 lin. ft.; dated 1976-2009) includes correspondence, poetry by Inman and others, press releases and reviews, official documents (such as his birth certificate, insurance information, and medical documents), and materials from Inman's death and funeral.

Addition (2023-0142) (0.1 lin. ft.; dated 1963-1965) contains correspondence from Inman to Eugene Stelzig, as well as two issues of Kauri.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
1923, May 4
Born, Wilmington, North Carolina
Graduated from Duke University
Editor and publisher of Kauri, a poetry newsletter,
Artist in residence, American University, Washington DC
Married Barbara Ann Sherman
Member of the English faculty, Montgomery College, Rockville, MD.
Moved to Tucson, Arizona
Legally Changed name from William A. McGirt, Jr. to Will Inman.
Passed away

Will Inman was a poet, essayist, editor, and publisher. He was born William Archibald McGirt, Jr. in Wilmington, North Carolina where his father, William A. McGirt, was in the insurance and real estate business and his mother, Delia E. McGirt (maiden name Inman), was a registered nurse. He attended Duke University, graduating with an A.B in 1943. After college, Inman worked as a union organizer for tobacco workers in North Carolina before moving to New York City in the late 1950s. He served as the Vice-president of Free University of New York in the mid 1960s. He has worked as an editor and publisher of various literary journals and has had his work published in numerous anthologies and literary journals as well as in individual volumes. His weekly column, "Conchsound in the Hills," was published in the Franklin, PA News-Herald in the 1960s. In addition to writing poetry, fiction, plays, and essays, Inman was also a prolific correspondent and diarist. He was active in numerous causes, including the War in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, gay rights, and various environmental issues. In 1956, he was questioned by the House Un-American Activities Committee as to his relationship with the Communist Party. His activism continued into the 1990s; he led writing workshops in an Arizona State Prison, as well as teaching writing to homeless people in transition. Inman passed away in 2009.

Acquisition information:
The Will Inman papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase from Will Inman in 1998-1999, as gifts in 2001-2003 and 2009, and as a gift from Eugene Stelzig in 2023.
Processing information:

Processed by Don Sechler

Completed August 11, 1998; Further additions accessioned in 1999 by Lisa Stark

2001-2003 Additions processed by Michelle Garcia; Joshua Kaiser; Douglas Brown

Accession 2009-0263 added by Meghan Lyon, December 2009

Accession 2023-0142 added by Leah Tams, November 2023.

Encoded by Don Sechler; Lisa Stark; Danielle McGregor; Ruth E. Bryan; Joshua Kaiser; Douglas Brown; Meghan Lyon

This collection is unprocessed: materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Will Inman Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.