The Robert Lowell Papers, ca. 1845-1988, consist mainly of Lowell's working papers for the period 1970-1977. As such the papers include heavily revised drafts of manuscripts, galleys, and page proofs for Notebook (1970), The Dolphin (1973), For Lizzie and Harriet (1973), History (1973), and Day By Day (1977). Also present are an early notebook, manuscripts for a few earlier works such as "Endecott and the Red Cross" (1965) and "Prometheus Bound" (1969), manuscripts for works published posthumously such as The Oresteia of Aeschylus (1978) and Collected Prose (1987), as well as some unfinished and/or unpublished items.
The majority of the correspondence consists of incoming letters, also predominately 1970-1977, which are often addressed to both Lowell and Caroline Blackwood, his third wife. Among the correspondents are W. Alfred, A. Alvarez, R. Anzilotti, B. Belitt, F. Bidart, E. Bishop, C. Blackwood, B. Clark, N. Cousins, M. Cowley, D. Davie, R. Eberhart, G. Ewart, A. Ginsberg, R. Giroux, I. Hamilton, E. Hardwick, S.J. Hazo, S. Heaney, L. Hellman, M. Jarrell, L. Joyce, A. Kazin, R.F. Kennedy, S. Kunitz, P. Larkin, J. Laughlin, G. Lish, Harriet Winslow Lowell, R. Macauley, E.J. McCarthy, M. McCarthy, J.D. McClatchy, G. Malanga, W. Meredith, M. Nardi, H. Nemerov, S. Nolan, J.K. Onassis, F. Parker, J.F. Powers, P. Rahv, A.C. Rich, I.A. Richards, A. Schlesinger, W.D. Snodgrass, J. Stafford, A. Tate, E.R. Taylor, P.H. Taylor, D. Trilling, M. Van Duyn, A. Voznesenskii, D. Walcott, R.P. Warren, E. Weeks, R. Wilbur, E. Wilson, and others. Some correspondents, such as E. Bishop, S. Heaney, S. Kunitz, M. Nardi, I.A. Richards, P.H. Taylor, and R.P. Warren, enclosed manuscripts of articles or poems with their letters.
The balance of the collection contains clippings, financial and legal papers, honorary degrees, medical papers, music scores, photographs, school publications and yearbooks, and sound recordings. The photographs are primarily of Lowell and his family, although there are also photographs of Lowell with colleagues such as E. Bishop, Ezra Pound, J.C. Ransom, A. Tate, P.H. Taylor, and R.P. Warren. The sound recordings include several spoken word recordings of Lowell and/or other poets (such as Ezra Pound) reading from his poetry or translations. The rest are recordings of plays by Lowell ("Benito Cereno") or of musical settings of his work (In Sleep, In Thunder by Elliott Carter, Phaedra by Benjamin Britten, and White Winter, Black Spring by John Hopkins). One music score, for White Winter, Black Spring, is also present.
Of special note are the medical files created by Dr. Merrill Moore, a poet and psychiatrist who treated Lowell from 1935 to 1941. The bulk of these files cover the years 1937-1939, though there is a gap for the period June through November, 1937. Occupying two boxes, the files consist of correspondence, internal memoranda, photographs, clippings, a report card from Kenyon College, and various internal office forms (such as psychotherapy records, telephone calls, etc.), all of which serve to document the case. Lowell's problems and his relationship with his parents are major topics, as are Lowell's relationships with others, such as Frank Parker, Anne Dick, and Jean Stafford. Moore's correspondents included Lowell and his family, other doctors, and friends, among them B. Clark, Anne Dick, R. Eberhart, J. Laughlin, Charlotte Winslow Lowell, Robert Traill Spence Lowell III, David McDowell, F. Parker, J.C. Ransom, Robb Ransom, J. Stafford, Milton Starr, A. Tate, P.H. Taylor, and R.P. Warren.