Kathleen Norris Papers

Color photographs of Kathleen Norris

Identity elements

Reference code

MA 047

Name and location of repository

Level of description



Kathleen Norris Papers


  • 1919-2020 (Creation)


55.0 Linear feet [55 Record Boxes]

Name of creator


Biographical history

Kathleen Norris was born July 27, 1947 to John Heyword Norris and Lois Totten Norris. She graduated from Punahou Preparatory School, Hawaii in 1965, and from Bennington College in Vermont in 1969. After college Norris worked as arts administrator for Betty Kray, Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets, who became her good friend and mentor.

“Falling Off,” Kathleen Norris’ first book of poetry, was published in 1971 and won the Big Table Younger Poets Award that same year. Soon after, she settled down in her maternal grandparents' home in Lemmon, South Dakota, where she lived with her husband, the poet David Dwyer, for over twenty-five years. Since the death of her husband in 2003, she has transferred her place of residence to Hawaii.

The move to Lemmon was the inspiration for the first of her nonfiction books, the award-winning bestseller "Dakota: A Spiritual Geography." It was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and was selected as one of the best books of the year by Library Journal.

In 1986 Norris became an oblate, or associate, of a Benedictine monastery, Assumption Abbey in North Dakota and spent extended periods at Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

For many years Kathleen Norris was the poetry editor of Spirituality & Health magazine. She continues to make numerous appearances, including lectures, symposia, workshops, and retreats. Norris was the Randall Distinguished Professor of Christian Culture at Providence, Rhode Island from 2014 to 2015, and is currently the nonfiction editor of the Saint Katherine Review. She also serves as an editorial advisor to Give Us This Day.

Content and structure elements

Scope and content

The collection is composed of manuscripts, correspondence, galley proofs, research, books and publications related to her published works of fiction and nonfiction.
The general material is composed of Norris' juvenilia from Bennington College, instructors' mid-term and final reports of her course work from college, and biographies and interviews of Norris conducted by various media organizations. Also included is a collection of notebooks from the early 1970's to 2009. These notebooks are spiral bound and appear to be daily journals with notes and drafts of poems and essays. They also contain postcards, clippings, business cards, prayer cards, photographs, recipes, etc. Of note is the manuscript for “Elizabeth Kray’s Letters, Memos, and Notes to Marie Bullock: Two Great Ladies of American Poetry”. A 1937 edition of “Conversation at Midnight” by Edna St. Vincent Millay and signed by John H. Norris is also included.
Poetry is composed of Norris' poetry in anthologies, books, catalogs, chapbooks, contributions, and periodicals. These publications all include Norris' poetry, and some also include works by her husband, David Dwyer, (this will be noted on the front of the folder).
Nonfiction books consist of draft and annotated manuscript pages, galley proofs, cover art and typeface layout, book jackets, book notes, correspondence, research, reviews, audio books, international editions, promotional material, book tour information, advance proofs, hard cover and paperback books. Material varies with each book title. This material is arranged alphabetically by publication title.
Other writings consist mainly of essays, reviews, and sermons published in journals, anthologies, books, textbooks, etc. Also included are scripture reflections for daily devotions, Afterword’s, Forewords, Introductions, Prefaces, and Symposia to which Norris has contributed.
Works mentioning Norris are also included. They are composed of publications with articles mention Kathleen Norris.

System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use elements

Conditions governing access

Open. Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Researchers conducting extensive research are asked to make an advance appointment to access archival material. Please call or e-mail prior to visiting the collection and indicate as much detail as possible about a particular topic and intended use.

Physical access

Technical access

Conditions governing reproduction

Kathleen Norris retains the literary rights, including copyright, to this material. Patrons wishing to publish from this material must obtain permission directly from Kathleen Norris. For further information, consult with the staff.

South Dakota State University supports access to the materials, published and unpublished, in its collections. Nonetheless, access to some items may be restricted as a result of their fragile condition or by contractual agreements with donors.

Languages of the material

  • English

Scripts of the material

Language and script notes

Finding aids

Acquisition and appraisal elements

Custodial history

Immediate source of acquisition

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information


Related materials elements

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related archival materials

Acedia & Me: A marriage, monks, and a writer's life
Call Number: SD Collection BT732.4 .N67 2008
Publication Date: 2008

Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
Call Number: SD Collection BV4501.2 .N63 1998
Publication Date: 1998

The Cloister Walk
Call Number: SD Collection BX2435 .N57 1996
Publication Date: 1996

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography
Call Number: SD Collection F656.2 .N66 1993
Publication Date: 1993

Falling Off
Publication Date: 1971

The holy twins: Benedict and Scholastica by written by Kathleen Norris; illustrated by Tomie De Pagla
Call Number: SD Collection BR1720 .B45 N67 2001
Publication Date: 2001

How I Came To Drink My Grandmother's Piano: Some Benedictine Poems
Publication Date: 1989

Journey: new and selected Poems, 1969-1999
Call Number: SD Collection PS3564 .O66 J68 2001
Publication Date: 2001

Little Girls in Church
Call Number: SD Collection PS3564 .O66 L58 1995
Publication Date: 1995

Meditations on Mary: With essays by Kathleen Norris and excerpts from the King James Version of the Bible
Call Number: SD Collection BT6052 .N67 1999
Publication Date: 1999

The Middle of the World
Call Number: SD Collection PS3564 .O66 M5 1981
Publication Date: 1981

The Psalms / with commentary by Kathleen Norris
Publication Date: 1997

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and 'Women's Work
Publication Date: 1998

The Virgin of Bennington
Call Number: SD Collection PS3564 .O66 Z47 2001
Publication Date: 2001

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Alternative identifier(s)




MA 47

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DACS, 2nd e. Society of American Archivists

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