Gwendolyn M. Parker papers, 1967-1998

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Selected diaries may be used only with Ms. Parker's permission. Please contact the Rubenstein Library for more information.
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Parker, Gwendolyn M.
4.5 Linear Feet
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The papers of Gwendolyn M. Parker, which primarily document her writing carreer, span the years 1967-1998 with the majority of the papers dating from 1986-1997. They consist primarily of diaries, correspondence, clippings, writings, and other miscellaneous printed and manuscript materials. Parker's writings are well documented by several manuscript versions of her 1994 novel, These Same Long Bones, and her 1997 memoir, Trespassing: My Sojourn in the Halls of Privilege. Parker's correspondence is chiefly professional and related to her efforts to publish for her work, but a small amount of personal correspondence is held in the collection. The clippings are primarily reviews of her books or published interviews. The personal observations, story ideas, and writing exercises recorded in Parker's diaries provide some documentation of her life and artistic career, chiefly after 1986.

Biographical / historical:
Date Event
Born Durham, North Carolina
Moved from Durham NC to New York
Attended Radcliffe
Attended Law School at NYU
Worked for Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft law firm
Worked for American Express
These Same Long Bones published
Traveled to southern Africa (Zimbabwe and South Africa)
Trespassing: My Sojourn in the Halls of Privilege published

Gwendolyn M. Parker is an author and memoirist whose work has chronicled the experience of the black middle class in America. She was born in Durham and lived in the Hay-Ti section of Durham until 1960 when she moved with her family to Mount Vernon, New York. She attended the Kent School, a private boarding school, in Connecticut, through high school and later attended Radcliffe. After graduating from Radcliffe in 1972, Parker studied tax law at New York University, graduating in 1975. She then joined the Wall Street law firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft, leaving two years later to become a tax lawyer with American Express. While at American Express she advanced to the position of senior strategic analyst in the Office of Corporate Planning.

Parker left American Express in 1986 to devote herself to writing full-time. Her first novel, These Same Long Bones, was published in 1994. It is set in the segregated Hay-Ti section of Durham, North Carolina in the 1940s. Her memoir Trespassing: My Sojourn in the Halls of Privilege was published in 1997 and chronicles her youth, college years, brief career with a Wall Street law firm, and her tenure with American Express. The book focuses on her struggles to earn a place in a corporate culture dominated by white males and her attempts to understand her position as a successful African American member of the middle class in the United States.

Acquisition information:
Collection purchased from Gwendolyn M. Parker March, 1998.
Processing information:

Processed by Don Sechler

Completed July 12, 1998

Encoded by Don Sechler

Historical note and collection-level notes updated by Tracy M. Jackson, April 2020.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

African American women authors -- 20th century
Middle class African Americans -- United States
African American women executives
African American women lawyers


Using These Materials

Using These Materials Links:

Using These Materials


Selected diaries may be used only with Ms. Parker's permission. Please contact the Rubenstein Library for more information.

Terms of access:

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

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