The Joel Climenhaga Papers (1912-2001) consist primarily of his literary works and correspondence to and from family and friends. The collection is organized in nine Series: 1) Biographical; 2) Correspondence; 3) Literary Works; 4) Subjects; 5) Photographs and Slides; 6) Media; 7) Scrapbooks; 8) Oversize; and 9) Printed Material.
The Biographical Series consist of two boxes which include Climenhaga's baby book, family genealogy, obituary and memorial service program, and 1987 Kansas State University retirement tributes.
The Correspondence Series is made up of fourteen boxes and arranged alphabetically. Climenhaga was a prolific and voluminous writer. He corresponded with Mina Cooper, Carlos Cortez, Charles Jones, George Moberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Kenneth Patchen to name a few. Within the Charles Jones correspondence there are letters by LBJ (Lyndon B. Johnson) and from people who opposed him agreeing with the NCAAP- these letters were signed by "a white Christian" or "a white, white, American." There are twenty-four folders of correspondence between Climenhaga and Fred Shaw. The two men planned to turn their correspondence into a book titled <emph render='italic'>The Mephisto Addenda</emph>. Before this could manifest, Fred Shaw passed away. The Climenhaga's were good friends with Kenneth and Miriam Patchen and there is extensive correspondence between the two families. The sub-series "Correspondence to Poetry Magazines" is listed alphabetically by magazine title and consists of one box.
The sub-series "Correspondence Log" is arranged chronologically and is stored in eighteen boxes. It is similar to a journal as Climenhaga made personal entries on specific dates and if those dates corresponded with writing or receiving a letter, the letter was included. Names of those who Climenhaga corresponded includes Marlon Brando, Milton Bernard, John and Emma Climenhaga, Mina Cooper, Norman Fedder, Henry Miller, Kenneth Patchen, George Savage, Fred Shaw, Wesley Van Tassel, Myrna Wolfe, and Kenneth Woodroofe. These letters were pulled from the alphabetical listing by Climenhaga. It is not known why Climenhaga separated these letters.
Literary Works is comprised of twenty-two boxes which contain Climenhaga's plays and poems, as well as fiction stories and essays. During his lifetime Climenhaga had at least seven columns in various newspapers and newsletters. Three of his columns <emph render='italic'>One Man's Frontier</emph>, <emph render='italic'>One Man's Journey</emph>, and <emph render='italic'>Dear Good People</emph> often had the same material while the introduction was sometimes different or a sentence or two rearranged. <emph render='italic'>One Man's Journey</emph> was also broadcasted on the KKSC Radio station at Kansas State University during the 1980s. Climenhaga was a notorious recycler of paper. He often used recycled paper which can be confusing to researchers. If researchers pay close attention, however, they just might find that "recycled" paper useful after all, as it could be a part of another story, poem, etc., whether written by Climenhaga or one of his many friends or colleagues. Climenhaga wrote his first poem at age six. By 1989, he had written approximately 2,500 poems of which 1,200 had been published in various magazines and journals. Volumes of his published poems include: <emph render='italic'>The Age of Pollution</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Belief in Chaos</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Hawk and Chameleon</emph>; <emph render='italic'>The Month of the Shadow on My Heart</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Ninety-Nine Messages from Separate Places</emph>; <emph render='italic'>None of this Really Matters a Great Deal Now</emph>; <emph render='italic'>One Hundred and One Songs are Promised for Tomorrow</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Preliminary Walk into the Sweat of Dying</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Report on the Progress of the Bearded One's Homework</emph>; <emph render='italic'>Spontaneity is a Deceiving God</emph>; and <emph render='italic'>The Thirteenth Winter</emph>.
Subject Series is contained in seventeen boxes and is organized alphabetically. It includes names such as Charles Jackson Jones, Jr. who was married to artist Molly Ramolla, Kenneth Patchen and Larry Smith. It also includes programs from plays produced, written, and directed by Climenhaga. Other programs include plays produced at the Purple Masque Theatre, Kansas State University; by the Pine Cone Players, Grand Lake, CO; and at UCLA.
The Photograph and Slides Series consists of one box and includes photos of the 1976 Pine Cone Players, Grand Lake, CO, production of <emph render='italic'>Mark Twain</emph>. Photos taken at the Purple Masque Theatre, Kansas State University include the 1981 production of Kenneth Patchen's <emph render='italic'>Don't Look Now</emph>, the 1989 production of <emph render='italic'>Dust-Storm Wedding</emph> and Climenhaga's own play the <emph render='italic'>Marriage Wheel</emph>. The Slides consist of Kenneth Patchen's art poetry.
Comprised of seven boxes, the Media Series includes cassette tapes, reel to reel tapes, VHS video tapes, and computer disks. The computer disks contain some of Climenhaga's manuscripts that were incorporated in Literary Works Series. The cassette tapes include interviews with Ben Nyberg and Jonathan Holden, 1985 letters from Charles Jones, and Climenhaga's 1980s <emph render='italic'>One Man's Journey</emph> recorded at KKSU radio, Kansas State University. The reel to reel tapes include several different readings from Patchen's <emph render='italic'>Don't Look Now</emph>. The VHS tapes include the "50th Anniversary of the 1939 Pottstown High School Graduates" of interviews with Earl "Yogi" Storm, Dr. Joel Esner, and Raymond Elliott conducted by Bill Achatz. Climenhaga was unable to attend this anniversary gathering where he and others were inducted into the Alumni Honor Roll. Climenhaga created a video to be played at the anniversary program and it is included in this series. The tape <emph render='italic'>Miriam Is Not Amused</emph>, a film by Kim Roberts, 1996, is a profile of the life of Miriam Patchen with interesting information about her husband Kenneth Patchen. The most interesting tapes in this series, however, are the interviews with Joel Climenhaga. The one that stands out the most is the one created by the Manhattan, Kansas Art Councils, 1992, where John Biggs interviews Climenhaga.
There are some very interesting interviews with Joel Climenhaga, especially the one filmed by the Manhattan, Kansas Arts Council titled <emph render='italic'>Joel: Creative Profile</emph>. Another VHS tape of interest is <emph render='italic'>Miriam Is Not Amused</emph>, a film by Kim Roberts, 1996. This is a profile of the life of Miriam Patchen with interesting information about her husband, Kenneth Patchen.
Scrapbooks are contained in one box. The most notable is the<emph render='italic'> Marriage Wheel</emph> by Joel Climenhaga with his notes written on the sides of each page. Another item of interest is the 1983-1988 Travel Journal. Climenhaga kept notes of his summer travels, how many miles he traveled, where he traveled to, and when and where he stopped to eat.
The Oversize Series is made up of one box that includes art, art poetry, poetry and program posters. Notable sketches in this series are the drawing of Joel Climenhaga by Lawrence Ferlinghetti and the greeting to the Climenhagas from Carlos and Marianna Cortez in 1972. Kenneth Patchen's art poetry shows up in Lee Artz's "Passion for Peace," <emph render='italic'>Peace Works</emph>, Mid-Peninsula Peace Center, Palo Alto, California and in Steven Ratiner's "The Picture Poems of Kenneth Patchen," <emph render='italic'>California Living</emph>, 1983. There are four Kenneth Patchen poems included: "The Way Men Live Is a Life," 1944, "A Poem For Christmas," 1961, "What I'd Like To Know Is, 1967" and "A Mercy Filled & Defiant Xmas To All Still Worthy To Be Called Man," 1970. Program posters from the Kansas State University Purple Masque Theatre that are interesting include Mark Edward's <emph render='italic'>Larger Than Life</emph>, 1978, Cindy Helfertstay's <emph render='italic'>From Heaven to Hell</emph>, 1978, and Chloris Killian's 1981, The Dust-Storm Wedding. Other items of interest includes Climenhaga's 1987 retirement certificate from Kansas State University and a letter from the then Provost, Owen J. Koeppe.
Stored in twenty boxes, the Printed Material includes Climenhaga's poetry magazines, published by him under his publishing company, Transient Press and other research journals and books.