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Augustine J. Bowe papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Bowe

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence with friends and fellow poets including Inez Boulton, George Dillon, John Frederick Nims, and Karl Shapiro; family materials, including correspondence between Julia Bowe pertaining to Poetry, her diaries and writing; materials pertaining to Bowe's civil activities; drafts and revisions of Bowe's poetry; materials pertaining to he and Julia's support and involvement with Poetry and the Modern Poetry Association; and photographs, and audiovisual materials.


  • Creation: approximately 1890-1966
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1966



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Augustine J. Bowe papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Augustine J. Bowe papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections at

Biography of Augustine J. Bowe

Chicago lawyer, judge, civic leader, and poet.

Augustine Bowe was born in Chicago on February 26, 1892 to John and Ellen Canavan Bowe. He attended Loyola University and Loyola Law School, receiving the degrees of A.B., M.A., and LL.B. Upon earning his law degree in 1913, Bowe founded the law firm Bowe & Bowe with his brother William, which specialized in worker's compensation cases. He continued to practice law in this capacity until 1960. He was president of the Chicago Bar Association in 1955 and 1956, and elected chief justice of the Chicago Municipal Court in 1960. Bowe was also passionate about civic issues and was active in several organizations including the Chicago Human Relations Commission, the Illinois Committee for Equal Job Opportunities, the Catholic Interracial Council, the National Conference on Christians and Jews, and the Cook County Prisoners Welfare Association.

Writing poetry was another passion of Bowe's. He became involved in Poetry through Inez Boulton, friend of he and his wife Julia and a Chicago society woman who taught poetry workshops and was a reader for the magazine. Bouton introduced the Bowe's to then editor George Dillon in 1940. Poetry was in dire financial straits at this time in the wake of Harriet Monroe's death, and the contentious removal previous editor Morton Dauwen Zabel. Julia and Augustine Bowe came to the rescue of the floundering journal, Julia by offering her expertise in fundraising and Bowe with legal advice. In 1941 they helped form the Modern Poetry Association as a not-for-profit organization whose board members undertook financial responsibility for the magazine. Julia acted as secretary to the board, and continued organize highly successful fundraising events throughout the 1950s and 1960s. These years were not without controversy, and the Bowes were privy to a series of editorial and organizational turnovers that nearly undermined the magazine. Bowe initially published his work in Poetry, but ceased to submit his poems after becoming president of the Modern Poetry Association. He continued to write daily, filling hundreds of legal pads and typed pages with his poems. A book, No Gods are False was edited by friend and fellow poet John Frederick Nims, and published posthumously in 1967.

Bowe married Julia Leonie Lecour in 1927. They had two children, John and Julie Ann and lived at 1120 North Lake Shore Drive for their entire marriage. Bowe enjoyed daily walks along the lake shore, and died of natural causes on one of these walks on February 6, 1966.


16.3 Linear Feet (36 boxes and 1 oversize box)


Correspondence, family and personal materials, works, photographs, and audiovisual materials of Chicago judge and poet Augustine J. Bowe.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Correspondence, Family, and Personal, 1904-1966
Boxes 1-8
Series 2: Poetry, 1942-1965
Boxes 9-10
Series 3: Works, 1917-1960
Boxes 11-34
Series 4: Photographs and Audiovisual, approximately 1890-1966
Boxes 35-36

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Some audiovisual recordings in this collection have been digitized. Researchers may access materials in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Collection Stack Location

1 6 7, 1 7 7


Gift of Julia Bowe, 1968.

Related Materials

There is also a printed memoir, entitled "Julia & Gus: Memoirs of Julia Lecour Bowe," edited by Charles Augustine Bowe, with a preface by William J. Bowe, Jr., (self-published; 2011) available in the library. See online catalog for details.

Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2008.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the Poetry Foundation. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the Poetry Foundation.

Inventory of the Augustine J. Bowe papers, approximately 1890-1966, bulk 1940-1966
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011-08-03: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States