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About the Projects

Beginning in 1977 the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History in the University of Kentucky Libraries launched an extensive oral history project to document the life and career of author and poet Robert Penn Warren. In addition to oral history interviews with Robert Penn Warren, the project conducted interviews with over 30 friends and colleagues.  Interviews were conducted by David Farrell and Susan Allen between 1977 and 1981. 

In December, 1964, Warren donated to the University of Kentucky 43 interviews he had conducted on reel to reel tape with leaders of the Civil Rights Movement including interviews with Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, James Baldwin, Reverend Ralph Abernathy, James Farmer, Vernon Jordan, Whitney Young, and many others.  These interviews were conducted as research for his 1965 book Who Speaks for the Negro?. In his letter of donation to the University of Kentucky dated December 23, 1964, Warren describes the interviews and states, "this, it would seem, is significant research material."

These projects are a significant addition to the extensive collections pertaining to Kentucky authors preserved by the University of Kentucky's Special Collections Research Center and the Nunn Center. 

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Photograph Courtesy, Terry Birdwhistell

L-R: Terry Birdwhistell, Robert Penn Warren