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Paul Lauter-Heath Anthology Papers

Identifier: Paul Lauter-Heath Anthology papers

Scope and Contents

The Paul Lauter-Heath Anthology papers consist of correspondence and files of the Reconstructing American Literature (RAL) project, the Secondary School Program, and subject and writer files related to the Heath Anthology of American Literature. The Reconstructing American Literature project files originate from a variety of correspondents related to the creation of the anthology, while subject files deal with the classification of terms found in the anthology ranging from genre forms to groups of people such as African-Americans. Writer files include information about writers that the anthology sought to include such as Emily Dickinson and Angela Y. Davis. Secondary School program files include informational packets, correspondence, and curriculum plans. The files depict the editorial decision-making behind the anthology during the 1980s.

The collection documents Paul Lauter’s role in the planning of the Heath Anthology of American Literature. The collection contains correspondence, files, and programs from Paul Lauter’s editorial work on the Heath Anthology, as well as programs and curricula related to grade school and college education in American Literature.


  • Creation: 1980-1992


Conditions Governing Access

This collection contains restricted material (one manuscript box of restricted and separated materials with publishing agreements and review forms).

Otherwise, the collection is open to the public and must be used in the John M.K. Davis Reading Room of the Watkinson Library, Trinity College Library, Hartford, Connecticut. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws when using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Digital surrogates may be provided to researchers, in accordance with the duplication policy of the Watkinson Library.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information (e.g. social security numbers) in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Biographical / Historical

Paul Lauter (1932-), a professor of English at Trinity College, set the work for the Heath Anthology of American Literature in motion in 1968 when he attended a Modern Language Association conference and spearheaded a protest of the lack of diversity and the underrepresentation of American authors and regular people, including Native Americans, African-Americans, Asian Americans, and women. Then, in the late 1970s, Lauter initiated and directed the Reconstructing American Literature (RAL) project at the Feminist Press in New York, which he had helped found. Funded in part by the federal Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE), RAL constituted a collection of revisionist syllabi and bibliographies for teaching English literature. It was published in hardback in 1984 as Reconstructing American Literature: Courses, Syllabi, Issues (Feminist Press). By the mid-1980s, D.C. Heath and Company had taken on an adjacent project of publishing an anthology of marginalized authors, giving it its eventual name when published in 1989 as the Heath Anthology. Lauter launched work on the anthology by enlisting the contributions of over 300 academics and post-secondary institutions involved in the study of underrepresented groups in American Literature.

The Heath Anthology was the earliest initiative among academics to create a revised, more inclusive anthology that sought to incorporate the underrepresented voices of women, people of color, immigrants, and other groups marginalized from American Literature To this day, the anthology is still hailed as a major achievement in the promotion of multiculturalism in American Literature.


26.5 Cubic Feet (26 records storage cartons and one manuscript container. )

Language of Materials



The collection contains the following series:

Series 1: Reconstructing American Literature (RAL) Correspondence and Files

Series 2: Secondary School Program Files

Series 3: Subject and Writer Files.

Collection is arranged alphabetically by subject and writer's last name.

Subject files and writer files are arranged alphabetically.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Paul Lauter donated this collection to the Watkinson Library in 2014.


Lauter, Paul. "Reconstructing American Literature: A Synopsis of an Educational Project of the Feminist Press." MELUS 11, no. 1 (1984): 33-43.

Lauter, Paul. "The Heath Anthology and Cultural Boundaries," in English Studies/Culture Studies: Institutionalizing Dissent, eds. Isaiah Smithson and Nancy Ruff. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1994, 180-190.

Processing Information

Lisa Lew processed the Paul Lauter-Heath Anthology papers between September 20, 2014, and May 2015. The files were rehoused into acid-free boxes and folders.

Guide to the Paul Lauter-Heath Anthology papers
Lisa Lew and Michelle C. Sigiel
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2020-03-25: "Scope and Contents" and "Bio/Historical" updated by Eric C. Stoykovich, who also added "Immediate Source of Acquisition" and "Bibliography."

Repository Details

Part of the Trinity College Archives Repository

Watkinson Library
300 Summit St.
Hartford CT 06106 USA