The John Sinclair papers came to the library in 1979. Jointly donated by John and Leni Sinclair, this initial accession, covering the period 1957-1979, included textual material, sound recordings, and photographs relating to all phases of their careers, including participation in the Artists' Workshop in Detroit, the Rainbow Multi-Media Corporation, the White Panther Party and its offshoot, the Rainbow Peoples Party; also materials concerning the legalization of marijuana, radical politics, prison reform, and rock and jazz music.
The Sinclair papers provide a rich and unique source for the study of America's radical movement in the nineteen sixties and seventies. Beginning with a remarkable series of correspondence that includes letters from Abbie Hoffman, Allen Ginsberg, Timothy Leary, and Jerry Rubin, and continuing on through extensive subject files, the collection details the cultural, political and business activities of a man whose energy and charisma made him a local and national leader of the counterculture. In addition, the collection documents the support and creativity of his wife and partner, who as writer, photographer and publicist helped to showcase the lifestyle which he symbolized.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, John Sinclair added to his papers with materials relating to his career as a writer and performer. In the winter of 2000, he donated a second large accession relating mainly to the period since leaving Detroit for New Orleans.
The Sinclair collection has been divided into four subgroups: Textual Files, Printed Material, Sound Recordings, and Visual Material.