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Patricia Filipowska papers

Identifier: IWA0147

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Scope and Contents

The Patricia Filipowska papers date from 1930 to 1995 and measure 5.9 linear feet. The papers are arranged in seven series: Biographical materials, Calendars, Correspondence, Writings, Sketches and graphics, Family papers, and Photographs.

The first series, Biographical materials (1946-1994), is arranged alphabetically in five subseries. The first, Biography, includes clippings of book reviews from two Burlington, Iowa, newspapers and letters solicited by Filip Filipowski from Cay Burk, Ruth Feldman, and Beatrice Takeuchi giving their reminiscences of Patricia Filipowska. The second subseries, Letters to Myself, is a posthumously discovered private diary, dated October 28, 1974 to March 27, 1978, containing Filipowska's thoughts about her personal life, her relationship with her husband, Richard, and their ongoing problems with their son, David. It also reveals the intimacy she continued to feel for her artist friend in Burlington, Iowa, Robert Burrus. The third subseries, Poetry workshop materials, contains lists of poems submitted for review in various Radcliffe Poetry Seminars; class lists; course assignments and notes; and communications with fellow students. The fourth subseries, Travel, contains Filipowska's passports and miscellaneous travel receipts, gift lists, packing lists, and tourist brochures. The fifth subseries is an apparent separate diary in a commercially produced notebook entitled, A Woman's Notebook. It contains only two entries, dated January 12, 1980 and July 4, 1981, respectively.

The second series, Calendars (1980-1992), consists of thirteen appointment calendars that are as much diaristic in nature as they are records of activities and appointments.

The third series, Correspondence (1945-1994), includes letters to the editor, letters of rejection, and extensive letters from the Filipowski's son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Yvonne Filipowski of Amsterdam and from Filipowska's parents, Helen and Guerdon Parker of Burlington, Iowa, as well as from many other friends and associates.

The fourth series, Writings (1940-1993), is comprised of six subseries. The first, Early writings, contains essays and poetry from Filipowska's student days at Burlington (Iowa) High School and the University of Chicago. The second subseries, Radcliffe Poetry Seminars, forms the heart of this entire collection. These 182 poems, each in its own folder, constitute Filipowska's working file. They are arranged by the author into thematic units such as Childhood, Iowa, Family, and Illness. Most are represented by multiple versions showing the author's efforts continually to revise and improve her art. It is this feature, above all, which will recommend this collection to the student of poetic composition. The third subseries contains three notebooks of poems assembled in various combinations by the author at different times. The first notebook, described internally by the author as "very old", is a group of sixty-four poems in simple numerical arrangement, most having extensive revisions. A second "red" notebook containing about one hundred and fifty poems, appears to be the author's first attempt at arranging her completed poems into thematic units, each again having extensive interlinear revisions. The third or "black" notebook is labelled Original Draft of Anthology of Poems, containing 100 poems as selected and arranged by Filipowska in anticipation of their eventual publication. The fourth subseries consists of poems submitted for the Grolier Poetry Prize from 1978 to 1987. The fifth subseries consists of the published anthology of poems entitled The Well, containing 62 poems as posthumously published in 1993. The sixth and last subseries is a collection of Miscellaneous gift verses and limericks.

The fifth series, Sketches and graphics (1944-1962) contain drawings done by Filipowska between 1952 and 1962 while living at the couple's first home in Lexington, Massachusetts. There are also two sketchbooks, the first dated 1944 to 1946, containing samples of her work from her student days at the School of Design in Chicago and the second, dated 1958 to 1959, containing self-portraits and other drawings.

The sixth series, Family papers (1991-1995), consists of Filip Filipowski's designs called "Pub drawings" and the memoirs of his own childhood in Canada entitled Terra Cotta Episodes 1927-1932.

The last series, Photographs (1930?-1994), contains 55 photographs, chiefly of Filipowska, beginning at about age six in 1930, but also including photographs of her husband Filip, their three sons, Filipowska's parents, and close friends and associates. Also included are photographs of Robert Burrus, Filipowska's artist friend of Burlington, Iowa, together with photographs of his art reliefs.


  • Creation: 1930-1997


Conditions Governing Access

The papers are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to the University of Iowa.

However, copyright status for some collection materials may be unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility and potential liability based on copyright infringement for any use rests exclusively and solely with the user. Users must properly acknowledge the Iowa Women’s Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, as the source of the material. For further information, visit

Biographical / Historical

Patricia (Parker) Filipowska was born September 6, 1924 in Burlington, Iowa, the only child of Helen and Guerdon ("Spike") Parker. After graduating in 1942 from Burlington High School with honors in art and poetry, Parker studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and writing and poetry at the University of Chicago. She subsequently enrolled at the Institute of Design in Chicago where she studied visual design and architecture. Many of her drawings and graphics are in the archives of the Chicago Historical Society. While at the Institute of Design, Parker met fellow student Richard ("Filip") Filipowski whom she married in 1946. In 1950 Richard Filipowski was invited by Walter Gropius to organize and teach the course "Designing Fundamentals" in the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University. They moved to Cambridge, and subsequently to Lexington, Massachusetts, where they raised their three sons, Stefan, Matthew, and David.

By the mid-1970s, Filipowska had turned her attention more fully to poetry and in 1981 she enrolled in the Poetry Seminars conducted by Kinereth Gensler at Radcliffe College. For her pen name she chose neither her maiden name nor her husband's name but the Slavic feminine form of her husband's name, Filipowska. Almost all of the poetry that she wrote over the next twelve years was the result of her involvement in these seminars.

By 1993 she had written over one hundred and eighty poems and her working drafts reveal the immense effort she put into their revision. At her death she left behind a manuscript of one hundred poems entitled, Original Draft Of Anthology Of Poems, culled from her collection. The poems themselves were fully realized; some had already been published. But she had not yet made the choice of how best to put them together to make unified wholes. Her husband engaged Kinereth Gensler, her seminar professor, to do the required arranging and editing. The result was an anthology of sixty-two poems selected from her original manuscript and published posthumously in 1993 under the title The Well. The work is in four sections. Two of them deal with her relationship to Iowa, while the others concern the disparate aspects of her life as a woman and her personal losses. According to Gensler, her professor, editor, and friend, "A primary force underlying Patricia Filipowska's poems is her enduring relationship with Iowa. She was deeply committed to poetry and to her work as a poet. She observed the world with cool curiosity and a passionate heart." Patricia Filipowska died of cancer on March 15, 1993.


5.90 Linear Feet

Photographs in Box 15 boxes

Language of Materials



Poet and native of Burlington, Iowa.


The Well (Lexington, MA: R.E. Filipowski, c1993) is shelved with printed works, in the Iowa Authors Collection in the Special Collections Department, and in the general collection in the Main Library.

Method of Acquisition

The papers (donor no. 214) were donated by Richard E. Filipowski in 1994 and subsequent years.

George Mullally, 1995, 1997 and 1998.
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Iowa Women's Archives Repository

100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)