University of Oregon retains Kesey papers

The Associated Press /


Published Oct 16, 2013 at 05:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

EUGENE — The collected papers of novelist Ken Kesey, including drafts of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Sometimes a Great Notion,” will remain at the University of Oregon.

President Michael Gottfredson agreed to add $1 million to about $400,000 in donations from fans of the writer, so the school can purchase the papers from the Kesey family and the collection can remain at the Knight Library.

“There’s an incredible and widespread feeling that this is our cultural and literary heritage, and we had to have it here,” Deb Carver, dean of libraries, said.

Some had feared a well-heeled university, such as Stanford, where Kesey studied writing, might swoop in to buy the 121-box collection.

A fundraising drive included a tie-dye theme doughnut with a sugar cube atop from Voodoo Doughnuts, the Portland company with a store in Eugene.

Carver said that drew attention and donations, but the flow was too slow for that alone to fulfill the university’s agreement with the family to complete the sale within two years.

Kesey graduated from the school in 1957. His most famous works, “Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Great Notion,” were published in 1962 and 1964.

He had moved to Oregon from Colorado at age 11, and except for forays such as Merry Pranksters’ journeys, spent much of his life in Lane County. He died in 2001.

The papers will be available to students and scholars, but Kesey ‘s family retains copyrights.

The collection includes typewritten and handwritten manuscripts, journals, artwork, photographs, correspondence and personal papers that Kesey produced from 1960 until his death.