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Arnold Kenseth papers

Identifier: MC074

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains the correspondence and published and unpublished poetry of Arnold Kenseth, Bates class of 1937. In addition, it includes professional materials related to his work as a minister at the South Congregational Church in South Amherst, Massachusetts for 40 years as well as service at other churches; miscellaneous personal items ranging from photographs to school papers; and materials related to his work manaing the Poetry Room at Harvard.


  • 1913-1997, undated


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

Arnold M. Kenseth was born on December 19, 1915 in Milton, Massachusetts. He graduated from Bates College in 1937 with a degree in English. From 1938 to 1941 he worked at Harvard University as curator of the Harvard College Library Poetry Room. There, he cared for the Edwin Arlington Robinson collection and the Amy Lowell collection. Intending to write on the relationship between poetry and religion, he met the Rev. Samuel H. Miller, who later became dean of Harvard Divinity School. It was Miller who interested Kenseth in the ministry. Kenseth received a bachelor's of sacred theology in 1944 and a master's in English in 1950 from Harvard. He initially served as minister at the Union Congregational Church in Ballardvale, Massachusetts (1943-1947) and then as the minister of South Congregational Church in Amherst, Massachusetts for 40 years. He also taught English at University of Massachusetts at Amherst and served as the school's chaplain. Along with Robert Frost, e.e. cummings, Archibald MacLeish, Wallace Stevens, Richard Wilbur and John Ciardi '38, he was audiotaped for the program New England Anthology by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. Kenseth received first prize in the American Scholar Poetry Awards for his poem, "Death and Resurrection." His poetry was published in all the major poetry journals and many major magazines. He published nine books of his poems, the last in 2002. In 1965, he was charged by the National Committee on Worship of the United Church of Christ to rewrite and revise church liturgies. He translated Pablo Neruda's first book of poetry, Crepuscalario. He was a founder and board member of the Hampshire Committee on Civil Rights (1950-1970), and chair of the UNICEF drive (1952-1977) in Amherst. With his wife Betty J. Amey, whom he married in August 1940, Kenseth had three children: Elaine, Geoffrey, and Evan. Betty died in 2001, and Arnold Kenseth passed away on March 21, 2003.


9.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The collection contain the writings, correspondence, professional files, and personal materials of Arnold Kenseth, a poet, Congregational minister, and 1937 graduate of Bates College.

Organization and Arrangement

Arranged into four series: I. Correspondence; II. Writings; III. Ministerial materials; and IV. Other personal and professional files.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of Arnold Kenseth, 2000. Accession No.: 00-016, 00-029.

Guide to the Arnold Kenseth papers, 1913-1997, n.d.
Edited Full Draft
Kat Stefko and LaVerne Winn
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Revision Statements

  • 2023: Minor formatting changes and addition of related material.

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America
207-755-5911 (Fax)