In the spring of 1970, Professor John Little organized a Writer's Conference using the theme of "Southern Writers." He invited seven authors to travel to the University of North Dakota to participate in readings and panel discussions with UND students. After viewing the success of the conference, the English Department, along with Professor Little, decided to make the Writer's Conference an annual event.
Over the years, the UND Writer's Conference has been greatly acclaimed by many in the writing and education professions and has attracted such noted authors as Norman Mailer, Truman Capote, Alice Walker, Eudora Welty, and Alex Haley. Professor Little organized the conference for 21 years, with the exception of the 1985 conference. This one was organized by Dan Eades while Professor Little was on leave. The 1991-1993 conferences were jointly directed by Jay Meek and Bob King, while Mr. King organized the next two conferences independently. He was succeeded by Professor James McKenzie in 1996.
Donation; the originals were loaned to Special Collections for duplication by John Little, UND Professor Emeritus.
The bulk of the Writers Conference Records concern the first twenty conferences from 1970 until 1989, which were organized by Professor John Little. Most file contain correspondence, newspaper and magazine clippings, notes, and financial statements that document each conference, including the selection of conference themes and participating authors and subsequent media coverage. Files on individual authors contain correspondence between Little and the authors and/or their literary agents. Contracts, biographies, and samples of author's work are often included in these files as well.
Also included are transcripts of Open Mike sessions from the 1974 UND Writers Conference. This conference, "City Lights in North Dakota," featured noted Beatnik poets Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Peter Orlovsky, Kenneth Rexroth, and Gary Snyder.