VOLUME: 7.5 linear feet

ACCESS: This collection is open to the public upon request.

COPYRIGHT: Please consult the archivist for information about duplication or publishing of any materials from this collection.

Biographical Note

Ed Cox was born in Washington, D.C., in 1946. Except for his four years in the Navy in the late 1960s, he lived his entire life in and around his native city. He studied for one semester at the University of Maryland under the poets Rudd Fleming and Roderick Jellema.

He was active in a number of public interest organizations such as Common Cause, the Indochina Refugee Action Center, and the National Center for Urban Ethnic Affairs. He was also very involved in the anti-war movement during the war in Vietnam. He was one of the earliest supporters of the Washington Blade and in the 1970s worked with the “Saturday Clinic” of the Washington Free Clinic, which later became part of the Whitman-Walker Clinic.

In addition to his public interest activities, he conducted poetry workshops for senior citizens, first at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and later at the Roosevelt for Senior Citizens, St. Mary’s Court, and the House of Ruth. He compiled and edited Seeds and Leaves (1977) and Some Lives (1984), two anthologies of his student’s work.

He was the author of Blocks (1972), and Waking (1976). He also published an illustrated children’s book, Little Hill (1981). A long prose poem on his parents “These Two: Ezra and Agnes” (1989) was published in the Washington Review. A series of poems on which he worked for 13 years, Part of, was published posthumously. His collected poems, including the titles mentioned above, were published in 2001. His work has also appeared in several anthologies.

In 1982 he received a poetry fellowship from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He also received grants from the PEN American Center and the American Poets Fund of the Academy of American Poets (1987). In 1989, he was awarded the Lyndhurst Prize, a three-year, $110,000 grant that enabled him for the first time to work full time on his poetry and his volunteer activism.

He was employed by the U.S. Association for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees when he died of a stroke in 1992.

Scope and Content Note

The Ed Cox Papers consist mainly of his poetry from the late 1960s until his death in 1992, in both draft and final form, as well as Collected Poems (2001). The papers include a considerable quantity of poetry by his students at the shelters and centers for senior citizens where he taught poetry. In addition, they contain a substantial amount of his correspondence, mostly in the form of carbon copies, from 1969-79 and 1984-92. Also included are two interviews of Ed Cox and discussions of poetry at two of his workshops on audio cassette tapes, and a reel-to-reel audio tape of a WETA station broadcast. A manuscript for another book, Staying on Together: Older People and Independent Living, remains in draft form. The draft for a book of poetry by the Washington, D.C., poet Ron Morgan is among the papers.


Laura Cox Lunford donated her brother’s papers to American University Library in December 2003.

Box & Folder Listing

Box 1

  • Addresses
  • Announcements
  • Articles on:
    • Aging, 1971-83, 1990-91, n.d.
    • Alcoholism, n.d.
    • Black History and the Environment, 1991, n.d.
    • Domestic Violence, 1979-88, n.d.
    • Ed Cox, 1980, 1990, 1993
    • Mental Health, 1989, 1991, n.d.
    • Poets and Poetry, 1978, 1985-88, 1990, n.d.
    • Other Subjects , 1976, 1985-87, 1990-93
  • Artwork by children and adults, n.d.
  • Audio Tapes:
    • Interviews with Ed Cox [2 cassette tapes, n.d.]
    • Poetry Workshop Discussions [2 cassette tapes, n.d.]
    • Roosevelt Poetry Group with Ed Cox, WETA Broadcast “Artifacts,” Jul. 4, 1978 [reel to reel ¼” tape]
  • Biographical Information
  • Book Excerpts on Poets and Poetry, n.d.
  • Book Lists on Henri Bergson and Meister Eckhart, n.d.
  • Book Manuscript, Staying on Together: Older People and Independent Living, 1991 [11 folders]
  • Book Reviews of Poetry by Cox and Others, 1972, 1975, 1977, n.d.
  • Books:
    • Alcoholics Anonymous, Living Sober, 1975
    • Berrigan, Daniel, ed., For Swords into Plowshares the Hammer Has to Fall [ca. 1983]
    • Cox, Ed, Collected Poems, 2001
    • Everhard, Jim, Cute, 1982
    • Felter, Burton, Reflections, 1983
    • Jacobsen, Josephine, On the Island: Stories, 1989
    • ________________, The Sisters: New and Selected Poems, 1987
    • Joselow, Beth, Broad Daylight, 1989
    • May, Rollo, The Discovery of Being, 1983
  • Children’s Story, Little Room, 1981 and 1985 editions [including original artwork]
  • Condolences to the Family of Ed Cox, 1992
  • Correspondence 1969-72 [5 folders]

Box 2

  • Correspondence (continued) 1973-92 [16 folders]
  • Correspondence between Laura Lunford and Richard Peabody on publishing the collected poems of Ed Cox, 2001
  • Employment Record
  • Essays on Poetry and Aging (American Poets and the Human Condition-Vulnerability and Meaning), 1985-90 [4 folders]
  • Financial Records (tax returns) 1985-91
  • Illustrations (reproductions), n.d.
  • Interview, Street News, Aug. 1990
  • Grant Applications 1970, 1977-92
  • Legal Papers 1975, 1991
  • Lyndhurst Foundation
    • Annual Reports 1986-90
    • Award 1989
    • Prize Retreat Book of Introductions 1991
  • Notes
  • Notes on Lucille Reese 1991
  • Phoebe, The George Mason Review, 1975
  • Photographs [3 folders]

Box 3

  • Poetry 1966-87 [36 folders, including several drafts of Part of]

Box 4

  • Poetry (continued) 1987-92 [13 folders, including more drafts of Part of]
  • Poetry by:
    • Anne Becker
    • Chris Llewlyn
    • Ethelbert Miller [2 folders]
    • Ron Morgan [3 folders]
    • Michelle Wright
    • Others
  • Poetry Reading: Washington Free Clinic, 1990
  • Poetry Workshops:
    • D.C. Public Library New Writers Workshop 1989
    • Friends Community School 1990
    • House of Ruth
      • Artwork (n.d.)
      • Correspondence and Notes 1988-91
      • Poetry 1988-91 [13 folders]
    • Roosevelt for Senior Citizens
      • Anthology 1980
      • Correspondence 1977-78
      • Essays 1977-80
      • Notes 1977-80

Box 5

  • Poetry Workshops (continued)
    • St. Mary’s Court
      • Book Excerpts (n.d.)
      • Poet in Residence Proposal 1985-87 [3 folders]
      • Poetry 1979-83 [4 folders]
      • Poetry 1984-90 [8 folders]
    • Senior Neighbors Workshop, Chattanooga, TN 1989
  • Poets and Writers Magazine Mar./Apr. 1987, Jan./Feb. 1990
  • Projects 1990, 1991
  • Quotes
  • Refugee Policy Group 1991
  • Research Paper: “The Political Economy of Structural Adjustment in Thailand”
  • By R.F. Doner and A. Laothanmatas, 1992
  • Substance Abuse Information
  • Takoma Magazine Vol. 2, No. 1 and 2
  • Teachers and Writers Collaborative (letter and receipts) 1990-91
  • Teen Program, summer 1990