ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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There is a growing number of people out here who have museum and library experience who could help. 

Of course, they also need to have support because time, travel and the like cost.  That leads us

 to another problem, our tendency to want things to be given or provided cheaply.



My Archival Experience

Or the State of HBCU Archives

By Rudolph Lewis


Note: Charles E. Siler, an artist and a museum curator, suggested that maybe we should create a forum for the discussion of the State of HBCU Archives. We came to this necessity partially as a result of two recent articles. One, an article on Alice Walker  in which it was reported that Alice Walker to Place her Archive at Emory University and two Fisk U struggles to sell art. Miriam DeCosta-Willis raised the question whether Walker had considered Spelman, an HBCU institution from which Walker had graduated. My immediate response was Walker probably thought that Emory had greater resources and thus Emory could make her papers quickly available to the public and probably in more creative formats than Spelman was able to do. There was a round of other responses. Then on the heel of that story came the crisis at Fisk in which administrators were trying to sell off their art collection in order to pay bills. That set off another round of exchanges about the State of HBCU archives. Some of these exchanges you will find below.

So I've decided to kick off this forum with a rendition of my experience with HBCU archives and other archival experience. After that I will post some of the exchanges and other items pertinent to the conversation. We hope that there are others who will respond with their own presentation or comments on the problems and solutions of the crises now existing for HBCU archives. We welcome of course comparative studies.

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I spent one year working in an archive, The George Meany Memorial Archives, as a fellow during my last year in library school. So I've processed only two collections: the papers of the Department of Organization of the AFL-CIO and that of Vanni Montana, a member of the largest Garment Workers local (NY) in the nation, during the period of the 1930s to the 1950s.

I am intellectually curious about an odd number of things, even boorish union men and political ideologues. Montana was Italian, and early on a socialist in Sicily. Of course, his politics changed gradually as he became more and more an American. He wrote a political biography (unpublished), which I read and found interesting; a copy of one of the manuscripts being discarded was given to me by the former GMM director, Stuart Kaufman, I have been carrying it around for a decade. I have meant to read it a again and post excerpts online to kindle an interest in its publication.

There was of course very little of a personal nature in Montana's papers, mostly politics and organizational conflicts and an indication of his progression toward the conservatism of Nixon's Republican Party. What there was that was personal was contained in the manuscript of his political biography. It represented a curious history of Italian immigrants and their involvement in political and union movements back home and in America. Some of the correspondence was in Italian, so in some cases I had to use a dictionary.

The emphasis at George Meany however was on preservation and not promoting and programming and making connections with other such papers in the Archives and making those evident in finding aids or online. All that requires time and energy and money. Of course, some of this could be done by students given fellowships. But the old paradigm of preservation is first and last, primarily. The fellows I encountered had little interest in politics or union history. I think I was the only one of the fellows that year who had a union background. But few of us, in the late 90s, were up sufficiently on the web and the new digital technology, which has advanced in leaps and bounds in the last decade.

There were some letters of a personal nature from organizers in the Department of Organization papers, of old organizers being discarded like they were yesterday’s trash. Heartbreaking stories of the poverty of old CIO organizers who fought the hard fight and were abandoned because they couldn’t document their years to qualify for a pension or couldn’t qualify for the personnel cuts when the AFL and the CIO became one organization.

I made copies of some news clippings and letters and statements of union men, especially concerning organizing efforts in the South among agricultural workers and Negroes. I tried to get some black union people interested in the documents, for educating their organizers, giving them a sense of the early CIO organizers and the new AFL-CIO of the 1950s. None of the union people I knew was interested in possibly printing the documents as part of their organizers training program.

I eventually decided to digitize some of those documents and include them as part of ChickenBones: A JournalBlacks and Labor in Print. These documents  became part of the foundation of the site. The niece of one of the former union organizing directors thanked me for keeping alive the memory of her uncle, William Kircher. Often what to include or exclude in a person's papers also depend  on the person who is processing the papers—their background, their emphasis, their knowledge of what might be important to researchers, especially when writing bio-sketches and finding aids.

As a researcher in the mid-80s, I also became familiar with the papers of Marcus Bruce Christian while teaching at the University of New Orleans and wrote as a result a seminal essay on his poetry and how it represents aspects of his personal life. Not even Tom Dent who knew Christian personally and wrote a published paper on him made use of the diary and letters of Christian to explicate Christian's poetry. I also did a focused research in the unprocessed papers of Sterling Brown at Howard.  The archivist was kind in bringing those papers from the warehouse where they were stored. That came after a Marcus Christian research  was done at the National Archives and the Library of Congress, looking for letters and materials Christian had sent Sterling Brown, when Brown was the Negro Director of the Black section of the Federal Writers’ Project. Brown was collecting material from the black state projects for his proposed book, “The Portrait of the Negro as American.”

I expected the Federal Writers’ Project material would be at the National Archives— in that the productions of the Federal Writers Project were government documents. Some administrative papers were indeed at the National Archives. But a decision was made to transfer the bulk of the requested material from the states to the Library of Congress so that there would be a greater accessibility. So I went to the Library of Congress in search of the materials Christian had sent Brown. They were not in the Louisiana folders. In the late 30s and possibly the early 40s the Library of Congress had a lending policy. I assumed then that Brown had borrowed the materials and never returned them.

So I went in search of Brown’s papers, which I discovered were at  Moorland-Spingarn.  Among these unprocessed papers (of the mid-30s) I did not find what I was looking for but I found papers of a congressional controversy regarding an entry in the Washington, DC Guide Book, produced by the Federal Writers' Project. It included material on Blacks in Washington. There were charges from a Wisconsin congressmen of communists in the FWP trying to embarrass/slander the family of George Washington, the nation's hero and first President. Brown was thus viewed as an enemy of the State. These unprocessed papers I discovered constituted Brown's defense. I made copies and later pulled them together, digitized them and published them  as the Maria Syphax Case.

I have also had an opportunity to check out the collection at Morgan State University and Virginia Union. Neither had the expected archival controls for heat, humidity, or pests. I’ve heard stories that some of the papers given to Morgan were sitting in hallways. Morgan is building a new library but  they have not made provisions for a state of the arts archives. I have also heard horrid stories about the Bowie State University collections. The papers of Marcus Christian were at Dillard University. After his death, Christian’s nephew (I believe) turned them over to the University of New Orleans, which he thought had greater resources to deal with Christian's great volume of documents, some from the Dillard Federal Writers’ Project. From my research use of the UNO Archives they have done Christian and researchers a great service. But UNO has not gone that far beyond the preservation stage. Digitizing the Christian Collection more in depth would provide greater access to the general public and a greater appreciation of Marcus Christian, the poet and historian.

So the above is a short version of my limited experience which forms my attitude towards the importance and the possibilities of archives as educational institutions with an enlarged audience and clientele.—Rudy

posted 4 January 2008

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Huria Search—Discover the Global Black CommunityHuria Search improves the internet experience for people looking for content created by the GBC and to help support the efforts of those websites. Websites thrive when they can be found.  Higher visibility allows websites to earn more revenue, attract better writers, garner more visitors who interact with the website and provide valuable promotion. . . .  Huria Search is financed by donors and developed by volunteers.  This site is completely driven our collective mission to support the global Black community.  List of Sites Included in Huria Search's Index

Troy Johnson Assessing the Black Press  / Troy Johnson founded in 1998 the African American Literature Book Club (AALBC)

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Edward Wilmot Blyden (3 August 1832 – 7 February 1912) was a Sierra Leone Creole and Americo-Liberian educator, writer, diplomat, and politician in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Because Blyden was an intellectual force in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, historians regard him as both a Sierra Leone Creole and an Americo-Liberian.—Wikipedia

[B]ook learning is not the most essential part of our educational needs as a people. You do not educate a man when you merely fill his mind; but you do educate him when you make him feel what he ought to feel; the one is mental, the other affectional. The one teaches him to lean upon others, the other teaches him to "retire upon himself." . . . And this view  . . . of their education becomes more important when we look upon the work which a large portion of them are destined to do they will not be able to succeed as mere imitators of the European.—Edward Wilmot Blyden

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Bibliophiles and Collectors  of African Americana

By Charles L. Blockson

Unlike many of these early bibliophiles, my enchantment with the collection of African history

and culture began in my early childhood. As I grew older, however, these visionary

collectors were there like intellectual parents to guide my development as a bibliophile.

The old saying is true: “When the pupil is ready, the master(s) will appear.”

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Fisk Plays the Caucasian Card

to Save Its $30 Million Stieglitz Collection Sale 

The Art of the Deal by Christine Kreyling

Even after Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle's ruling in Chancery Court last Friday, the fate of Fisk University's Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Modern American and European Art is no clearer than it was before. But this latest round of legal squabbling over the multimillion-dollar modern-art collection has introduced a new wrinkle: the question of whether work by white artists has any value beyond financial worth to a historically black university— whose cultural mission, through the years, has been to further black identity.

Last week was the latest cliffhanger in a serialized saga. With Fisk petitioning to sell a half-interest in the collection to an eager buyer, the Crystal Bridges Museum-in-the-making in neighboring Arkansas, Chancellor Lyle ruled that she could not agree to the terms. At the same time, she told Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper, who's leading the state's legal challenge, that he has two options: put up an alternative plan, or shut up and let the collection go.

Lyle agreed that Fisk's chronic shortfalls—regularly $2 million per year—make it impractical for the school to display and maintain the collection. Fisk spends an average of $131,000 annually on the Stieglitz Collection, in compliance with conditions imposed by artist Georgia O'Keeffe in 1949. That was the year she donated the art from the estate of her late husband, the famed photographer and collector Alfred Stieglitz.

Fisk's solution to its financial woes, subject to the court's approval, is articulated in a 2007 agreement between the university and Crystal Bridges, founded by Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton. The basic terms: For $30 million, Fisk would sell a half-interest in the 101 works in the Stieglitz Collection, valued at $74 million in 2007. The collection would rotate between Fisk's campus and the 120,000-square-foot Crystal Bridges facility, currently under construction in Bentonville, Ark.

But Lyle ruled that certain provisions in the agreement "override, thwart and dilute the purpose for which Ms. O'Keeffe made the gift." O'Keeffe's purpose, as established by the Tennessee Court of Appeals during a previous legal skirmish in 2009, was "to enable the public—in Nashville and the South—to have the opportunity to study the Collection in order to promote the general study of art."

Therein lies the rub. The deal's terms, Lyle ruled, "have the potential to divest Fisk of more than a 50 percent ownership in the Collection." For example, both institutions agree to share the cost of the collection's care. If Fisk can't pay and breaches the agreement, Crystal Bridges could gain title to more or ultimately all of the collection. And there goes O'Keeffe's purpose—the general study of the collection in Nashville.—Nashville Scene

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"The Gift: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University" Promo

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The Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University

By C. Michael Norton

Georgia O’Keeffe received word in 1946 in New Mexico that her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, had suffered a serious stroke in New York. Catching the next airplane from Albuquerque, she was by his side when he died on July 13. No one at Fisk University in Nashville knew then that Stieglitz’s death had put into motion a chain of events which would lead to Fisk’s receiving, in 1949, an art collection considered “the finest of its type anywhere in the South.”

Stieglitz, one of the greatest photographers in the history of the medium, is credited with transforming photography from a method of documentation into an art form. As a premier collector and gallery owner of his time, Stieglitz encouraged and acquired art work by many young American artists, including Arthur Dove, Marsden Hartley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Charles Demuth, and John Marin. He is also credited with mounting the first exhibition of African sculpture in the United States. O’Keeffe, generally considered the most important female artist in 20th century America (a description that would have irritated her), had both a business and personal relationship with the much older Stieglitz. They married in 1924, despite the 23-year difference in their ages. . . .—Prodigy

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The Alfred Stieglitz Collection | At Fisk University

Under the harsh yoke of slavery one of the most powerful American folk traditions was born. From the dense cotton fields of the South rose up a mighty song. The Negro spiritual gave expression and hope to many a captive soul.

The earthly realm with its tears and toil held little happiness. The promise of freedom in glory, the analogy between African enslavement and the captivity of the Old Testament Israelites offered generations a dream of rest and reward in the Lord.

Victor Simmons, curator of the Van Vechten Gallery of Fisk University, claims this music allowed slaves to “express themselves and construct for themselves a world that had meaning through that song.” It is quite literally on the foundation of the Negro spiritual that Fisk University was built. Founded in 1866, it was the performance of these songs by the first Fisk Jubilee Singers that helped save it from financial ruin. To maintain and expand the university, the young college singers embarked on a tour that took them all over the world. Jubilee Hall, the first building in the United States built for the exclusive purpose of educating African Americans, was built with proceeds from their performances.

Decades later, bombs blistered the skies above Europe, and trenches scarred barren stretches of land. Inhuman, unimaginable, the first mass-scale war of the Industrial Age forever changed the landscape of the Western consciousness. World War I brought with it a crisis in reason, a breakdown in communication that seized international arts communities in paroxysms of doubt. Artists responded in much the same manner as the American slave in the previous century: they expressed themselves and attempted to construct a world that had meaning through art. It was in these struggles that the European abstract art called “modernism” found its genesis.

The story of the Alfred Stieglitz Collection at Fisk University is the tale of the meeting of these two worlds. The experience of African Americans and the progressive spirit of modern art come together in the Carl Van Vechten Gallery. It is a story well worth discovering, and it is written over every inch of a campus steeped in a rich history of African American experience.

‘It might be surprising to many Nashvillians that there is a gallery with works by Picasso, Rivera, O’Keeffe, Cezanne, and Renoir just around the corner. It is perhaps more intriguing to learn just how they got there.’ . . .

Victor Simmons, guru of all things Fisk-related, explains that the connection between Georgia O’Keeffe and Fisk University began in the Harlem Renaissance. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Harlem Renaissance refers to a flowering of African American literary and artistic culture in New York during the 1920s and 30s. Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, Duke Ellington, Arna Bontemps, among many others all bear associations with the movement that was first known as “The New Negro Movement.

Through a series of friendly connections, Fisk University became the Southern epicenter of the extended Harlem Renaissance. Simmons explains the origins of the Van Vechten collection: “It’s a wonderful story of people of like mind and like spirit—people trying to enact social change with art as its vehicle. It was born in the mind of Carl Van Vechten, and its roots lie more deeply in associations and friendships of the Harlem Renaissance.”

Carl Van Vechten, a white American photographer, was a great patron of the Harlem Renaissance. He was friends with figures such as muralist Aaron Douglas and Charles Spurgeon Johnson, the first African American president of Fisk. Simmons refers to Johnson as “the architect of the Harlem Renaissance.” It was through Johnson and Van Vechten that O’Keeffe and Stieglitz became supporters of this movement and, later, Fisk University itself. Simmons explains, “One of the wonderful things about having the Stieglitz collection here at Fisk is that it shows you in demonstrable terms these connections. At the same time Stieglitz is on 5th Avenue, the Harlem Renaissance is taking place up on 125th Street, and they share between them Van Vechten and O’Keeffe. We are not taught about those connections in school.”

Fisk’s heyday saw Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston visiting the campus on a regular basis. Current Fisk University president Hazel O’Leary shares that the university considered hiring Hurston, but her sharp attitude and carefree manner foiled any such plans. Painter Aaron Douglas established the art program and completed the breathtaking series of murals that adorn its former library. Visitors can view his paintings, a portrait of the original Jubilee singers commissioned by Queen Victoria, and a stunning series of portraits by German modernist Winold Reiss on a walk through the campus. President O’Leary sums up the power of the Fisk art holdings: “They capture the culture of a region, of a nation, and of a people.” 

Walking through the Van Vechten Gallery, one sees works by the great hands and minds that shaped twentieth-century art. They are connected through conscience to the burgeoning of Harlem Renaissance art in the post-reconstruction South. Ken West, vice president of communications and public relations for the university, elucidates, “Fisk was founded as a social experiment by northerners who wanted to ensure that previously enslaved African Americans would be in a position to benefit society after a horrific national conflict. In that same spirit, O’Keeffe gave her paintings and those of Alfred Stieglitz to Fisk in order to challenge segregationist social norms and in benefit of the progress of American society.” Experiencing the collection, one senses the power of the art and the excitement of the times that brought it here.—NashvilleArts

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Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keeffe & American Modernism

With 112 photographs and photogravures from the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this is the first major photography show to be presented by the Wadsworth Atheneum since the Robert Mapplethorpe exhibition of 1989.

According to curator Elizabeth Mankin Kornhauser, "The Wadsworth Atheneum's distinguished history of presenting photography exhibitions began in the 1930s with shows devoted to George Platt Lynes [1931] and Man Ray [1934]. The current show focuses on Alfred Stieglitz as one of America's most important modernist photographers, and explores the considerable influence his work had on the American modernists he so passionately supported, exhibited, and promoted at his New York gallery,'291'.

It also emphasizes the visual exchange that took place between photography and painting," she continued.In part a chronicle of Stieglitz's artistic evolution over his 50-year career, Stieglitz, O 'Keeffe & American Modernism features 62 pristine images--each a classic of early modern photography--that were printed, mounted, matted, and framed by Stieglitz himself.—TFAOI

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Rudy, one wonders about the archival materials held by the HBCUs—I worry about them in fact.—Ronnie

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It is probably not possible to support all the HBCUs, but it would look well if Howard, Fisk, and the Atlanta U complex could be maintained by those people who puff themselves up and strut around calling themselves nationalists.—Wilson

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One idea might be to have an HBCU Archive, a place where HBCU institutions would deposit their collections because of the inability to set up an individual archival program. That HBCU Archive might also assist institutions like Howard with their backload of collections unprocessed, either in processing them or housing them. This HBCU Archive could make use of the latest technology in making these documents available digitally. Fisk I suspect has done little in promoting its art collection and I suspect that they cannot be found visually online. What I am suggesting is that a collective (or centralized) effort might have a better chance of preserving and promoting these collections than individual schools. And that foundation monies might be bettered raised by this kind of centralized effort.—Rudy

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Dorothy Porter did a brilliant job at Moorland-Spingarn.  I hear that the archives at Morehouse are not remarkably well-maintained (putting it diplomatically).—Wilson

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The problem with many of the HBCU archives ties to what was noted in that earlier exchange.  It has to do, in part, with the fact that we (as a group) have been pushed away from considering our history as having value.  The other is that the historic  underfunding and lack of external support is profound and many of the schools have gone through administrative leadership that was so tied to the "massas' way" that it exacerbated the problem and alienated many alumni who would have been willing to contribute and/or offer support to their alma mater.

There is a growing number of people out here who have museum and library experience who could help.  Of course, they also need to have support because time, travel and the like cost.  That leads us to another problem, our tendency to want things to be given or provided cheaply.  Most of the professionals aren't trying to get rich but those who need the help (and surely you understand this) have bill that are ongoing and debtors who don't take promises as payment.  I, and others, can tell horror stories about having to deal with those who don't want to understand that there must be recompense, even when it comes to having folk tell them how to used their collections to attract income. 

Saving them takes careful planning that involves fund raising to implement programming, exhibition and ongoing means of creating income.  They need to, first, learn how to market to their alums.  Of course there's more but we'd be talking for years.

The need is for those people to tap into their resources using their alumni associations, local businesses and the public by adding some passion to the mix.

There are ways but concern for the importance of our art and its reflection of our history is first.  As an old museum guy, I am very much concerned about the lack of historic concern shown by most African American people.  We have to reconnect to our history.  Perhaps a forum on ChickenBones would be appropriate.  I can suggest a few people who might have something to say.—Chuck 12/30/07

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Rudy. I like your idea of a central archives for HBCUs, but, unfortunately, each administration works unilaterally.

The problem is not the archivists, Rudy, or their lack of accountability in failing to report the conditions. The problems are (1) a lack of resources at these institutions and (2) a question of priorities as set by the administration. I know the archivists at Howard University and AU's Woodruff Library and I've been in correspondence with the archivists at Morehouse and Spelman. They are all well trained, hard-working, and very responsible professionals, but they're working under incredible conditions. By the way, I understand that the Spelman staff has done an excellent job in processing the papers of Audre Lorde, and the Woodruff archivists did a fine job in processing Maynard Jackson's papers and, when I last heard, was hard at work on MLK's papers. We also have to give credit where credit is due. —Miriam

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Dear Rudy,

I agree with Chuck that librarians deserve to be paid for their services.  If we can pay starting salaries of $150,000 to MBAs, most of whom are parasites, and ignorant as dirt, for screwing up the national economy, we ought to be able to pay librarians at least half that amount for their real expertise which requires constant study and constant regeneration.  Being a librarian today involves so much expenditure of time and it is not a 9 to 5 job.

Negroes claim to be interested in "our history," and maybe they are, but most of this interest seems to be confined to theory: Afrocentric theory, Gay theory, post-colonial theory, feminist theory, post-modernist theory, black Atlantic theory.  The list is constantly changing and very trendy.

Then  there is the problem of people giving their papers to family members, who destroy half the material and lose the rest.

Thank God the King family never got hold of the MLK papers!—Wilson

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Dear Rudy and Chuck,
A forum on HBCU archives is a capital idea.  I can assure you that the United Negro College Fund would have a very keen interest in this forum, because UNCF is currently exploring how HBCUs can sustain themselves in the near future.  The contact person at UNCF is Dr. Elfred A. Pinkard.
There have been discussions by archivists for more than twenty-some years about the state of HBCU archives and very little concrete action (as far as I know).  My alma mater, Tougaloo College, got some generous support from the Mellon Foundation for preserving its collection in the 1990s. I was able to create a new course "Introduction to Scholarship" by having my students there do real research with primary documents from the papers of Lance Jeffers and Virgia Shedd.  Significant portions of the Tougaloo archives are currently being processed at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History by Mr. Clarence Hunter.  He is one person who should be invited to share his insights.  
I wish both of you a productive 2008 and thereafter—Jerry

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Perceptions of HBCU archives and of the librarians and archivists who are responsible for their care and promotion of them indeed have to change. The problem perception that administrators have with librarians and archivists is that they as personnel don't create value, that is, create or produce money, that they only render a necessary and required service. But that has to do with the old perception of archives (as well as libraries). The old paradigm for archives was purely that of preservation. That is, money goes out but money does not come in as a result of having well-managed archives and libraries. 

Administrators, as well as archivists and librarians, have to be convinced that libraries and archives can be self-sustaining and produce an income for the institution.—Rudy

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Happy New Year and good cheer to all of you.

Rudy and I have had interesting discussions over the past few years about a variety of issues.  Even when we're not in agreement we have found ways to mutual understanding of how our differing opinions can be turned to good use.

This list is one that I'm publishing openly because, those of you who don't know each other - should and I respect the views of everyone that I've sent this to.

The main issue here is preserving our heritage and finding ways to successfully maintain those things that are important to the history of African American people.

Digitization is one of those things that we can do to protect the information.  How we maintain and support those institutions who hold the real items is a subject for discussion.

One thing that I feel we need is a connection to the new National Museum.  We need to network and link ourselves.  I know that there are names to be added to this list and I plan to do so.

In the meantime, for those of you who may not know, google ChickenBones. All the best in '08Chuck

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You know this is a topic near and dear to my heart and I too have some people to add to the list, all of who want to be proactive about the business of preserving our history.  I included them in the CC.  I also think we must be transparent about the problems surrounding the maintenance of HBCU archives along with the whole arena of archiving African American history in general.  I am constantly hearing stories about elders in the African American art world who, once they transition, we find their life's work is in jeopardy of going the way of so much of our history i.e. deposited in an inaccessible place or in the "circular file" thanks to ignorant relatives.  Peace,—Vicki

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Vicki, you have pointed out two perennial problems: 1) the inaccessibility of some HBCU archives, which could be viewed from a number of perspectives (e.g. open to handling archives of local persons), and 2) relatives who inherit archives and their lack of knowledge with respect to whom to approach to find a home for their kinsman's archives.

Last August, while visiting the dumpster I came across the work (awards, newspaper clipping, and art work) of a local writer and scholar, Grace Claiborne Johnson, who had received several master degrees from Virginia State University (Petersburg). Her items were found in a trailer nearby which was being taken over by white persons who were moving in. They did not know what to do with it. They carried it to the dumpster but did not throw it in and, realizing its importance, left some of it leaning up against the wall. Some of it was in bad condition with water damage, mold, etc. Because of the condition of the materials, most of the items I left at the dumpster. A librarian at VSU called me after reading the poem I wrote about the situation, Flowers for the Trashman.

The deceased writer, Ms. Claiborne Johnson, was well-known and two of the VSU librarians knew her personally. I took the framed awards I salvaged to them and left them in their hands. The VSU librarians received the two framed awards but I am uncertain they knew how to handle such a situation.—Rudy

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Virginia State Univ. is supposed to have a respected Special Collections & Archives. I do not know who is heading the archives now, but I remember a friend telling me how helpful the archivist had been for her. Did you discuss with the librarians and/or archivists how they might use the items you gave to them?—Herbert

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I know you're familiar with Gwendolyn Midlo Hall (Africans In Colonial Louisiana). She's a good friend and is someone whose database has been a lot of help.  That experience may contribute to something that can lead to a digitization process that could become a link that would prove of incalculable value. Database web site:  

Gwendolyn Midlo Hall books:

Slavery and African Ethnicities in the Americas: Restoring the Links:
Africans in Colonial Louisiana: the Development of Afro-Creole Culture during the Eighteenth Century:

Add Paul Lovejoy to your list re: the HBCU Discussion.  I know you have Joyce King on your list . . . I'm looking into some of the funding folk and  hope that we'll be able to make some things work out all around.—Chuck

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HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU!!!!!! I want to thank you for forwarding my message about HBCU archives. The title of my presentation-that will be made on Wednesday February 27th-is the "Legacy of Carter G. Woodson and African American Archival Sites." I want to first focus on the true reasoning behind Woodson's emphasis on collections as a means to present a true picture of a race of people and its contribution to the fabric of the nation. I went with my wife and daughter to see The Great Debaters,, and though many people were thrilled to see Washington, I was more concerned about the story of Wiley College and the legacy of James Farmer. What comes through very clearly is that its in the papers of the black college-particularly those that are dying (as Wiley is)- that we see the true history of the development of black people under intolerable circumstances. I have been intrigued by the Borinski Papers and I must finish them quickly and return to your papers. My planned work now is the Papers of Tougaloo Scholars- (Bender, Borinski, Durgin, Ladner and Ward). I'll send you a prospectus soon.

This is the tentative outline of the Woodson talk:

    A. Woodson the Man and Mission
    B. The Major African-American Historical Sites and the Message they bring
    C. The HBCU and the Archival Mission
    D. What the future Holds.

Let me know what you think.—Clarence

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Mr. Siler and all of our wonderful friends, Happy New Year!
What a timely discussion.  Archives are in the news in many forms.  The model that I grew up with—libraries—are still my favorite.  However, with the wild world of digital technology, there are a few new wrinkles that we can add to the questions of collection, storage, protection, distribution and even revenue.
I would be very interested to know how I could support your concerns with my interest in databases, the Internet and most importantly digital and interactive media.
There is even a new national schedule of my campus lectures and meetings related to digital television that I would be willing to e-mail to any of our interested associates.
Thanks Chuck.
Andrew W. Thornhill

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Related links:

Cornell University Library and HBCU Library Alliance Awarded Collaborative Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grant To Create Digital Library

Building Collections, Building Services, and Building Sustainability

Preserving a Legacy--Janice R. Franklin & Loretta O'Brien Parham

Annual Report to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation on Building Collections, Building Services, and Building Sustainability: A Collaborative Model for the HBCU Library Alliance

Archivists & Archives of Color Newsletter

The State of Internet Access to North Carolina African-American Archival Collections (Eben K. Lehman)

Guide to African-American Documentary Resources in North Carolina

History and Archival Resources in Higher Education

John B. Coleman Library Receives Grant From The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation To Preserve Historic Photographs

HBCU Library Alliance Photograph Preservation Summit at UD

The HBCU Library Alliance

North Carolina Exploring Cultural Heritage Online (NC ECHO)

The Lincoln University Herald Newsletters and Annual Catalogues (Digitized)

Louisiana WPA Digital Library  / WPA Documents on African Americans

African-American Women On-line Archival Collections (Duke University)

African American Women Writers of the 19th Century (Schomburg’s Digital Collection)

Digital Librarian  / American Memory / Archive Builders / Repositories of Primary Resources / The African-American Monument


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The State of Internet Access

Fundamental principle of  the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), stated:

A repository should not deny access to materials to any researcher, nor grant privileged or exclusive use of materials to any researcher, nor conceal the existence of any body of material from any researcher, unless required to do so by statutory authority, institutional mandate, or donor or purchase stipulation. (Association of College and Research Libraries [ACRL], 1994)

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As the accessibility of material depends on knowing of its existence, it is the repository's responsibility to inform researchers of the collections in its custody. This may be accomplished through local, regional, or national catalogs; inventories and other internal finding aids; published guides; and the assistance of staff members. (ACRL, 1994)

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The best way for an institution “to provide equal access to all materials and collections” is “to place information about its holdings, digital representations of its holdings, or both online in order to successfully reach the largest number of researchers.”

“Creating online digital images of primary source materials--correspondence, diaries, photographs, etc.--is seen by many as the best way to provide access to collections via the Internet. Anjana Bhatnagar (2006) touts some of these benefits in his examination of digitization efforts by academic libraries. Digitized collections are able to offer 24/7 remote access, as well as provide multiple points of simultaneous access to a single resource (Bhatnagar, pp. 40-41). Allowing multiple remote users full visual access to materials seems to ease some of the online services burden on archives staff as well as to greatly assist the online research.”

“Digitization requires hardware such as scanners and computers, software such as imaging programs, a large amount of server space, as well as training and staffing costs (Wisser, 2006). For smaller archival institutions, these costs may be impossible to overcome. Outside sources of funding, such as grant funding, collaboration with other institutions, etc., therefore become necessary to accomplish digitization projects."

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The larger institutions within the state, many of which are nationally and internationally recognized, often have greater fiscal and staffing resources. Many have begun digitization or are well into the process. When smaller institutions begin to plan for digitizing their collections, they may want to collaborate with their colleagues at the larger institutions. Larger institutions may, in turn, wish to reach out to smaller, local institutions in order to expand their intellectual base. Often holdings at one institution can be linked to holdings at another or institutions can share in the development of a digital archive built around a particular concept. Small institutions can learn from the larger institution's practices and successes, while contributing valuable insight on content and organization as well as a reality check for technical experimentation. (Wisser, 2006)

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As these institutions [HBCUs] continue to suffer from a lack of adequate financial, physical, and technological resources, they are prevented from making progress in providing online access to their archival collections, the importance of which is commented on by Stanton F. Biddle in the Handbook of Black Librarianship:

There is also a very critical need for institutions involved with documenting the African experience in America to become more involved in the use of the new advances in information technology to preserve and provide access to their resources. Although the government agencies appear to be making reasonable efforts to include African-American resources in their digitization programs . . . very few historically black institutions or other research centers focusing on African-American historical documentation are making their presence felt on the Internet and World Wide Web. (p. 233) 27  

The survey reveals this to be the case in North Carolina, with only four of the state’s HBCUs having made significant progress in using the Internet to provide access to their historical collections. The importance of supporting and promoting access to the archival collections at HBCUs is of special importance because it is these institutions that hold a long legacy of preserving a historical record of the African-American experience, and also of providing educational resources for the African-American population. Karen Jefferson (1993) writes that archives and special collections at HBCUs have “a responsibility to be in the leadership of not only the preservation of Black history but also the promotion of that history” (p. 107). Promotion of that history, within an environment of limited resources, means utilizing available grant money and seeking out collaborations when necessary in order to continue to increase online access to archival collections. Eben K. Lehman

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James Terry’s  The Willie Harris Collection

Chronicles Southern University and Life in Scotlandviille

Willie Harris was the first Chief of Police for Southern University and built the Southern police department himself. He was also a professional photographer who captured every aspect of the world around him. After Harris' death in 1992, his house was being readied for sale. During the clean-up, Harris’ family threw out the photos that their father had been taking during his career.

James Terry was walking his dog, as he and Capt. Harris lived on the same street and happened across the bags of photos that were set out on the curb. There were eight bags of photos containing somewhere around 30,000 black and white eight by ten photos and 20,000 five by seven photos total. He then asked the family if he could have them and they said yes.

Terry contacted other local photographers, Naville J. Oubre, Christopher J. Rogers, Eddie Harris and the photos were taken to the Southern University John B. Cade Library to be sorted and categorized.

The collection had been organized into seven basic categories - portraits, churches, schools, weddings, funerals, social organizations at Southern University, social organizations not at Southern University, and historical photos. I Remember Coach

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Just Discovered Slave Records Go To Pennsylvania Museum

The "freedom papers" and documents of indenture were discovered earlier this year, after recorder of deeds supervisor Jeff Liebert stumbled upon the word "Negro" in the index of an 1816 deed book. He checked the referenced page and found the paper, declaring that owner Hanson Catlett was setting free a child of 14, "my Negro Girl Lucy," on the condition that she "faithfully bind herself" to his family until she turned 28.

Upon learning of the find, Ms. McDonald Roberts directed lead supervisor Will Steele to review all deed books from 1788 through 1865, the year of emancipation. He found 56 original papers of freedom or indenture for African-American slaves in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. The oldest dates to 1792.

In the case of Mr. Cosco, the document states that slaveholder John McKee of Allegheny County, set free what he called "my negro man . . . for the consideration of the sum of one hundred pounds."

The papers will be preserved in the history center's climate-controlled archives, where researchers will be able to handle the original documents. Digitized copies will be available for public use online and in the recorder of deeds office. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Selling off Art Collections & Black Museum Movement

By Wilson J. Moses

Dear Rudy, 

Last month ChickenBones began discussion of a reputed plan at Fisk University to begin selling off its art collection to offset the debt resulting from years of gross financial mismanagement.  In the back of my mind at the time was a similar situation at Lincoln University. It is within this contact that I am forced to make an ironic observation on the so-called black museum movement. 

It is a matter of reproach that most of black museums around the country do not have original art collections, while we have historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) that do possess interesting collections, but propose to sell them off. 

Would it not be more respectable if the colored people of the United States could permanently endow a museum at Fisk and another one at Lincoln which would be separately endowed and separately managed?  

Or would it not at least be intelligent if the so-called black museums would buy the collections of those institutions that are forced to sell them.  Yes, but that would involve a coordination of resources at a national level, and it would require a coordinated national plan.  Are you listening Black Nationalists?   I said a coordinated national plan! 

The International Afro-American Museum of Detroit founded by Dr. Charles Wright is an excellent structure, but its collection is still in the early developmental stage.  I am certain that many young people "lift up their hearts and sing," whenever they see this beautiful façade.  But I doubt if the museum has either the staff or the funds to go into the business of preserving black art and archival materials that are about to be sold off by HBCUs.

Or we might keep African Americans from looking like such fools in the eyes of the world if the Black Museums Association could generate funding to to preserve the collections intact at their original sites, but permanently separated in all financial respects from the HBCUs with which they have been associated. 

But that would look too much like black nationalism.  Wilson J. Moses

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Dear Rudy,
I just finished watching a three-hour program with the historian Nell Irvin Painter on C-SPAN Book TV. Painter did stress the importance of using archives.  I think people who are participating in the HBCU Archive Forum would draw some useful insights from the program. Peace, Jerry

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National Conference of Artists New York (NCA)On Friday, February 8th, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NCA will present panels on “Art of Historically Black Colleges & Universities” and “Historic Black Murals, Public Art & Architecture”  —National Conference of Artists Meet

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HOLDINGS Project (1997 )

HOLDINGS, the acronym for Holding Our Library Documents Insures Nobility, Greatness and Strength, is a long-term initiative designed to preserve valuable, one-of-a-kind historical records and artifacts that document the early African-American experience.

"The goal of HOLDINGS is to preserve, protect and distribute the historical and intellectual properties of Black people throughout the Black Diaspora. It's important to preserve the legacy of our ancestors and document our struggles and accomplishments. We must be aware that keeping records intact is crucial for the accurate telling of the African-American story. In order to do this, we recognize the need for maintaining proprietary control over our intellectual properties." said Dr. Raymond Winbush, director of the Race Relations Institute at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, and one of HOLDING founding partners.

Urban City Foods, Burger King, the La-Van and Wendy Hawkins Foundation, the National Council of Negro Women, the National Council of Black Studies, and Historically Black Colleges & Universities are founding partners in this monumental effort.

Accessible archives will include, but certainly shall not be limited to:

The George Gershwin Collection

Selected Writings of W.E.B. Du Bois

Abraham Lincoln's Bible given to him by slaves upon their release

The Writings of Mary McLeod Bethune

The Gospel Collection which includes Thomas Dorsey's "Precious Lord Take My Hand," Charles Chestnut, and Chicago's famous Black Alderman Bill Dawson. . .  .

In addition to the preservation of historical records, the HOLDINGS project will provide technical assistance in collecting and preserving valuable archival documents. Organizations with historical documents related to African-Americans will be invited to participate in this on-going effort.

"Furthermore, I personally ask those capable of supporting this process to come to the table. Whether corporate executive, professional athlete, entertainer, scholar, foundation or community leader, let us join forces and recognize how important this is. It is because of my belief in this project that I pledge my financial support."

"In addition, technology is the way of the new millennium and this project will allow everyone to have access to important information, that would not otherwise be available. Coming from Cabrini Green makes me have a special appreciation for this new technology. With access to a school or community computer you can expand your environment and learn about success stories and know that there is a different world beyond your neighborhood." Hawkins [Mrs. Wendy Hawkins, Hawkins Foundation] said. . . . Legacy Holdings

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Holding on to African American History

B. Denise Hawkins

Fisk University, along with a coalition of Black institutions and international organizations, is gearing up to retrieve, preserve and distribute the historical and intellectual properties of African Americans, Organizers of the effort, known as the HOLDINGS Projects (Holding Our Library Documents Insures Nobility, Greatness and Strength), envision the formation of a single repository of historical information documenting the African American experience. . . .

While Fisk will be the central repository, collection and preservation sites will be housed at HBCUs and Black organizations in: Portland, Oregon; Los Angeles; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta; Tallahassee, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Accra, Ghana. . . .

And the project is expected to generate needed revenues for HBCUs and other (organizations by allowing them to royalties and multimedia products. Profits from the sale of royalties and multimedia products will be split three ways -- among the owner or producer of the work, the La-Van and Wendy Hawkins Foundation and HOLDINGS, Inc. .  .  .

The HOLDINGS Project is an attractive venture for HBCUs, especially those whose archives have sputtered along because they lacked financial backing and technical expertise. The project will provide both technical equipment and assistance, says Dr. Mabel Phifer, president of Maryland-based International Telecommunications Consortium. Black Issues in Higher Education,  May 29, 1997

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Cooperative HBCU Archival Survey Project (CHASP)

Cooperative HBCU Archival Survey Project (CHASP), which is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, is an on-site survey of the HBCU archives. These materials are generally unknown to researchers because they are not listed in existing reference tools and databases. CHASP is surveying ninety-seven HBCU and is more than half completed. When CHASP surveys an archive, the team writes a description of each collection including title, inclusive dates, size, and contents. These descriptions are then sent to the NUCMC program for cataloging. In addition, the CHASP descriptions will eventually be published in a printed guide toHBCU archival and manuscript collections.

To date the NUCMC Team has cataloged 102 collections from sixteen repositories: Allen University, Arkansas Baptist College, Barber-Scotia College, Benedict College, Bennett College, Bowie State University, Claflin College Archives, Clinton Junior College, Delaware State University, Fayetteville State University, Harris-Stowe State College, Lewis College of Business, Lincoln University, Morgan State University, Paul Quinn College, and University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. Infomotions

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When CHASP surveys an archives, the team writes a description of each collection including title, inclusive dates, size, and contents. These descriptions are then sent to the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC)  program for cataloging in the RLG Union Catalog. In addition, the CHASP descriptions will eventually be published in a printed guide to HBCU archival and manuscript collections. Buffalo Edu

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NPS and HBCU: Preserving Our Heritage

Cecil McKithan

On September 10,1991, the Secretary of the Interior, Manual Lujan, announced a precedent setting project aimed at the preservation of select buildings on Historically Black College and University campuses. The project is being launched with support from the American Gas Association.

Many of the historic structures that physically attest to the contribution that these schools have made in educating this Nation's citizens are at risk of being lost forever. The concern for the preservation of these structures led many HBCU presidents to appeal to the Office of Historically Black Colleges and Universities for help. This appeal for help was the beginning for the project recently announced by the Secretary of the Interior.

The project began with a survey of the most historic and endangered structures on HBCU campuses. Initially, 144 buildings were identified as candidates for preservation. Through a careful evaluation process, that number was reduced to 12. A Department of the Interior/Private Sector Field Assessment Team, headed by the National Park Service, inspected each of the 12 buildings and ranked them in priority order in terms of significance and threatened status. In order for the evaluation to be thorough and consistent, the Field Assessment Team used the following criteria to make their decision:

1. Historical Significance

2. Architectural Integrity

3. Threat

During the course of the field assessments, it was determined that one of the buildings had been damaged to such a degree as to no longer have any architectural integrity, thus eliminating it from the process. The final rankings are as follows:

1. Gaines Hall, Morris Brown College, Atlanta, GA

2. Leonard Hall, Shaw University, Raleigh, NC

3. Hill Hall, Savannah State College, Savannah, GA

4. St. Agnes Hall, St. Augustine College, Raleigh, NC

5. The Mansion, Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS

6. White Hall, Bethune-Cookman College, Daytona Beach, FL

7. Graves Hall, Morehouse College, Atlanta, GA

8. Howard Hall, Howard University, Washington,

9. Virginia Hall, Hampton University, Hampton, VA

10. Packard Hall, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA

11. Loockerman Hall, Delaware State College, Dover, DE

The next step in the project is for the National Park Service to have "condition assessments" completed on each of the structures. These assessments will pinpoint the problems with the buildings, make recommendations for the proper corrective active and provide cost estimates for the rehabilitation of the buildings. Three on-site field assessments have been completed and the final reports will be available shortly. It is planned that all of the assessments be completed by July 31,1992. Concurrently, other Interior agencies are moving forward with plans to marshal resources to support this effort. National Park Service

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ProQuest Historical Newspapers-Black Newspapers

Just in case you were not aware, last year Proquest digitized several black newspapers. I was able to secure a database subscription for my faculty at Emory.  Here's a description of the database and the newspapers included:

 ProQuest Historical Newspapers-Black Newspapers offers primary source material essential to the study of American history and African-American culture, history, politics, and the arts.  Examine major movements from the Harlem Renaissance to Civil Rights, and explore everyday life as written in the Chicago Defender, New York Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Los Angeles Sentinel, and Atlanta Daily World.  

The Black Newspapers Collection is cross-searchable with all other ProQuest Historical Newspapers-including The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Los Angeles Times- allowing researchers to evaluate history from multiple points of view.

The ProQuest historical platform offers powerful and easy-to-use tools, including:  full-page and article images in easily downloadable PDF format, lengthy backfiles, and the ability to search 21 different article types.

Atlanta Daily World (1931-2003) Atlanta Daily World had the first black White House correspondent and was the first black daily in the nation in the 20th century.

The Chicago Defender (1909-1975) A leading African-American newspaper, with more than two-thirds of its readership outside Chicago.

Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005) The oldest and largest black newspaper in the western United States and the largest African-American owned newspaper in the U.S.

New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993) This leading Black newspaper of the 20th  century reached its peak in the 1940s.  The Amsterdam News was a strong advocate for the desegregation of the U.S. military during World War II, and  also covered the historically important Harlem Renaissance.

Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002) One of the most nationally circulated Black newspapers, the Courier reached its peak in the 1930s.  A conservative voice in the African-American community, the Courier challenged the misrepresentation of African-Americans in the national media and advocated social reforms to advance the cause of civil rights.

Carmelita Pickett

African American Studies Librarian/Research Archivist

Emory University

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Historically Black Colleges and Universities

And a Spotlight on Mary McLeod Bethune, 1875-1955

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are colleges or universities that were established before 1964 with the intention of serving the African American community. There are more than 100 historically black colleges in the United States, located almost exclusively in the southern and eastern states.

Southern University is the largest HBCU and one of the most prestigious universities. Located in Louisiana, Southern University has campuses in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, the Southern University Law Center and the Southern University Agricultural and Extension Center.

Southern University has become the only HBCU system in the United States with an enrollment of over 15,000 students. The System encompasses five institutions offering two-year, four-year, graduate, professional, and doctoral degrees.

Cheyney University in Cheney, Pennsylvania has been known for graduating prominent alumni through its education and journalism departments. Cheyney, founded in 1837, is the oldest HBCU, established for the purpose of educating youth of African descent.

Hampton University was founded in 1868 and is located in Hampton, Virginia. With an endowment of more than $185.8 million, Hampton is one of the wealthiest HBCUs. The school confers approximately 848 undergraduate degrees yearly and consistently ranks in the top 10 in graduating African Americans with degrees in biology, business administration, communications, English, journalism, pharmacy, nursing and psychology.

Howard University, located in Washington, D.C., is one of the most prominent historically Black higher education institutions in the United States. Howard University is a comprehensive, research-oriented, private university providing an educational experience of exceptional quality to students of high academic potential. Particular emphasis is placed upon providing educational opportunities to promising Black students. Howard has produced more African American doctorate degree holders than any other institution in the world. Howard is the only HBCU to make the U.S. News and World Report’s top 100 colleges and universities.

Florida A & M University was announced as the best school for African Americans in 2006 by the Black Enterprise magazine. Founded in 1887 as the State Normal College for Colored Students, the venerable HBCU offers 62 bachelors degrees in 103 majors/tracks and 36 master’s degrees in 56 majors/tracks. Xavier University of New Orleans, Louisiana is the top school in the nation in the placement of Black students into medical schools and has the largest number of Black undergraduates receiving degrees in biology or life sciences. Xavier also has the distinction of being the only historically Black and Catholic university in the Western Hemisphere.

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) is a rapidly growing institution. It is the first liberal arts college for African Americans in the country. Its School of Law is ranked as one of America’s top law schools in the nation by the Princeton Review. With a student population of 9,000, NCCU is the ninth largest HBCU. NCCU also has the highest HBCU graduation rate in North Carolina. In 2005, NCCU ranked third in North Carolina in admitting the most National Merit Scholars.

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Mary McLeod Bethune was born in 1875 to former slaves in Mayesville, South Carolina. She devoted her life to ensuring the right to education and freedom from discrimination for African Americans. She believed that through education, Blacks could begin to earn a living in a country that opposed racial equality.

In 1904, Bethune opened the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute for Negro Girls. Bethune never refused to educate a child whose family could not afford tuition. There was objection during Bethune’s time to the education of Black children, but her zeal and dedication won over skeptics of both races. Bethune also opened a high school and a hospital for Blacks. In 1923, Bethune oversaw the high school’s merger with the Cookman Institute, thereby forming the HBCU Bethune-Cookman College. She helped integrate the Red Cross and became president of the National Association of Colored Women, formed the National Council of Negro Women, and in 1940, Bethune served as VP of the NAACP.Wesleyan

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Archives of Alice Walker Go To Emory University

In all, Walker sent 122 boxes to the university for an undisclosed sum. . . . "I chose Emory to receive my archive because I myself feel at ease and comfortable at Emory. However, having visited several libraries at different universities, I realized the importance to me of a lively, diverse, committed-to-human-growth atmosphere, that when I visited Emory, I found," said Walker in a press statement. Walker, who has visited Emory almost every other year since 1998 for readings or to visit colleagues, announced she chose Emory after researching other universities. According to Stephen Enniss, director of Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory, Walker had been looking for a location for her archives since 2004 and her negotiations with Emory took almost two years (2005-2007).Black Enterprise

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It’s difficult as a black archivist to quarrel with this decision. Emory is good and aggressive. Margaret Walker had considered Emory for her papers but she chose her devotion to her students over monetary consideration. The choice of sites is difficult and HBCUs are not as equipped to compete.—chunter

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King Archive at Morehouse

After years at the Sotheby's auction house in New York, a collection of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s papers has come home to Atlanta.

The papers had been scheduled for sale last year when an anonymous group ponied up a reported $32 million to buy the roughly 10,000 documents and books.

The documents have been entrusted to the library at King's alma mater, Morehouse College, and CNN has been given rare access to King's writings, which illuminate his thoughts along the difficult road that ended with his assassination

The collection features 7,000 papers written by King, including drafts of his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech and his 1964 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address. They also include a 1946 college examination on the Bible, his earliest surviving theological writing, and papers he was working on just before he was killed in 1968. . . .

The city plans to build a center where the King papers and other exhibits remembering the civil and human rights fight will be housed.The debate at the public meeting focused on where the museum should be built—on donated land near the center of town and several popular tourist attractions or just east of downtown in the Sweet Auburn Historic District where King was born and later preached. For now, the papers will be housed in the Robert W. Woodruff Library, which is run by Atlanta's historically black colleges, including Morehouse. Some of the documents will go on display at the Atlanta History Center from King's birthday on January 15 through May 13. CNN-MLK Papers

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The Charles L Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora

The Pennsylvania State University Libraries has recently acquired the Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora, which contains materials relating to African-American, African, Latin American, and Caribbean history and culture. . . .

For many years, Blockson has been devoted to the recovery and preservation of black history, forming not one but two great collections in the process. In 1984, Blockson donated to Temple University the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American History Collection, the result of many years that Blockson spent haunting bookstores, scouting out book sales, and otherwise following his interest with resolve. He currently serves as curator emeritus of the Temple collection.

More recently, but no less actively, Blockson has formed a second collection on black history, which now forms part of the Penn State's Special Collections Library. Penn State's Blockson Collection focuses not only on African-Americana, but more broadly documents the African Diaspora, the pattern of human migration that reaches back hundreds of years and traces the movement of blacks from their African homelands to areas around the world, most notably in South America (Brazil and Guyana, for example), the Caribbean, and, of course, in the United States. . . . Penn State Collections

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Response to Charles L. Blockson Collection

Rudy, This is good news! Yes, and also another very good collector. I believe Miriam knows him. She mentions him in her Erotique Noire.—Herbert

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Hey Rudy, Blockson is an old family friend and I can attest to the magnificence of his collections.  Recently he was in a knock down, drag out battle with Temple regarding their stewardship of the Temple collection which is another situation that underscores our need to control our material.  Peace,—Vicki

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Thanks for sending this piece to me, Rudy. Charles is a good friend of mine, though I've been out of touch with him recently. I dedicated Erotique Noire to him because he was so helpful in getting submissions from well known writers. He also has a terrific collection of erotica and contributed a piece to the book. It's interesting that he chose to give this set of materials to Penn State, because he fell out with Temple. The university officials wanted to split up his collection; as a result, it would have lost its integrity. I think that the dispute ended up in court, but I don't know how it turned out. I think I'll call him. —Miriam

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Library of Congress Acquires Papers of Civil Rights Activist James FormanAt a ceremony held today at the Library of Congress, the papers of civil-rights activist James Forman were given to the Library by Forman’s sons James Jr. and Chaka. Their mother, Constancia Romilly, also attended the event. . . . James Forman (1928-2005), executive secretary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1961 to 1966, was instrumental in organizing many of the major civil rights campaigns of the era, including the 1963 March on Washington. The Forman Papers—comprising approximately 70,000 items—chronicle his life and role in the civil rights movement. The bulk of the collection dates from 1960. Included are correspondence, memoranda, diaries, speeches and other writings, notebooks, transcripts of interviews, subject files, scrapbooks, appointment books, photographs, and video and sound recordings.Library of Congress

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The Ishmael Reed Papers, 1964 - 1995Special Collections, University of Delaware Library / Newark, Delaware 19717-5267 / (302) 831-2229

Scope and Content NoteThe Ishmael Reed Papers is a substantial collection of the manuscripts, correspondence, business and publishing records, printed and multimedia productions, and other materials which document the multi-faceted career of Ishmael Reed. Using the materials in this collection, it will be possible for scholars to discover Reed's prolific and productive life of involvement in arts, letters, and politics. All of Reed's many activities are represented in this collection, which takes its basic organizational form and order from his works, activities, and achievements. In addition, the collection provides detailed documentation of Reed's creative and professional work on individual projects with extensive holdings in manuscripts, project records, paste-ups and galley proofs, audio and videotapes, calendars, travel records, and planning notes. Literary and professional correspondence, legal and publishing correspondence, and additional personal correspondence provide a framework for tracing the influence of personal and professional relationships throughout his career, as well as the ways in which Reed's multiple roles and projects are related.

The strength of this collection is in the manuscript holdings found in Series I. Works by Reed. Reed revised and rewrote continuously. Each published novel is represented by many folders of draft pages in typescript and holograph, multiple complete and/or substantial partial drafts, and revisions of pages and sections. Typewritten and holograph lists of corrections and changes to be made accompany many manuscripts. Even short essays and letters to editors are usually represented in this collection with multiple, corrected drafts. In addition to Reed's holograph corrections and revisions, some drafts bear comments and corrections in other hands. Paste-ups and galleys with printers' and editors' marks form part of the record of many of Reed's works, including essays and articles as well as novels and books. Where appropriate and convenient, correspondence concerning the publication and marketing of a particular work is housed adjacent to the manuscript holdings. . . . University of Delaware Library

Other Links: The Dark Heathenism of Ishmael Reed  /  How the Media Uses Blacks to Chatise Blacks  / “Preface” to Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice 

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Scattered Treasures

Losing the Legacy of Photographer Nestor Hernandez, Jr.

Stewardship of Private Collections in the Twenty First Century Forum

10/15/2008 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

October is National Archives Month and this forum demonstrates the critical importance of proactively protecting family collections.  Without protection, invaluable collections are lost time and time again. 

Hosted by the Historical Society of Washington, DC, the Exposure Group African American Photographers Association, and the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University, this forum will focus on the recent loss of a tremendous collection of photographs and demonstrate how important it is that we actively protect family collections. 

An unpredicted series of tragic events resulted in the actual flea-market sale of the unique and irreplaceable collections of local photographer Nester Hernandez.  

The situation will be discussed from a variety of perspectives and the panelists will include Syreeta N. Swann Joseph, Copyright Specialist, Library of Congress; Larry Frazier, attorney specializing in probate, estates and trust law; Philip Merrill, Founder of Nanny Jack & Co., author, historian and former appraiser on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow; Allan Stypeck, Owner of Second Story Books, Senior Member of the American Society of Appraisers; Yvonne Hernandez, sister, Nestor Hernandez, Jr.;

Donna M. Wells, Prints and Photo Librarian at Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, historian, co-author of Legacy: Treasures of Black History.(Adults) FREE  or 202-383-1828

Source: HistoryDC

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UMass to put papers of W.E.B. Du Bois online—The university's W.E.B. Du Bois Library has an estimated 100,000 diaries, letters, photographs and other items related to Du Bois, who helped found the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "What we're looking to do is spark conversation about difficult issues in race, inequality, class and all these things are things that concerned Du Bois," said Robert Cox, director of the special collections at the library.UMass received a $200,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to put the collection online during the two-year project, which begins in July.

The collection includes correspondence with other influential African-Americans, such as Booker T. Washington and Langston Hughes, as well as important public figures of his day, such as Albert Einstein and Mohandas Gandhi.One of Cox's favorite pieces is a menu signed by those who attended the first meeting of the Niagara Movement, a precursor to the NAACP. The group was forced to meet in Ontario, Canada, because no restaurant in Buffalo, N.Y., would serve them.

Shirley Graham Du Bois donated her husband's papers to the Amherst campus in 1973. W.E.B. Du Bois was born in nearby Great Barrington in 1868. He died in Ghana in 1963.Du Bois wrote more than 4,000 articles, essays and books, many of which are now out of print or difficult to find, Cox said. While dozens of universities have microfilm copies of Du Bois work, the new online archive will allow anyone to search his words from anywhere.

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Finding Aid to the Marvin X Papers, 1965-2006, bulk 1993-2006--The Marvin X Papers document the life and work of playwright, poet, essayist, and activist Marvin X during the nineties and the first decade of the 21st Century. The papers include correspondence; Marvin X's writings; materials related to the Recovery Theatre; works by his children and colleagues; and resource files. Correspondence includes letters, cards, and e-mails; correspondents include Amiri Baraka and other prominent African-American intellectuals. Marvin X's writings include notebooks, drafts, and manuscripts of poetry, novels, plays, essays, and planned anthologies. Documents from the Recovery Theatre include organizational and financial records and promotional material.

Writings by others include essays, scripts, and academic papers by his three daughters. Resource files include academic articles, e-mails, flyers, news clippings and programs that contextualize and document Marvin X's involvement as an activist, intellectual, and literary figure in the African American community in the Bay Area in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Photographs include snapshots of family, friends, colleagues, and productions at the Recovery Theatre. Online Archive of California

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Selections from the Katherine Dunham Collection at the Library of Congress

The Katherine Dunham (22 June 1909 – 21 May 2006) Collection consists of materials purchased from the archives of the Dunham Centers in East St. Louis, Illinois, and is made possible through a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The Collection comprises 1,694 items in a variety of video/motion picture formats. It documents many aspects of Dunham’s dance career: her work as a choreographer, her dance technique and teaching method, various of her performances and productions, and her anthropological analysis of the dance and ritual of the African diaspora. The Collection also testifies to her global activism and leadership in the field of human rights and her advocacy of African American causes in her community.

The materials in this collection are housed and available for use in the Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Reading Room. Viewing requests should be directed to the MBRS Reading Room at 202-707-8572. Items should be requestedusing the “Motion Picture ID#” given in this document. The numbers found in the field labeled “Tape #” are only included for use in provenance tracking. (Those are the numbers that were on the tapes at the Dunham Center Archives in East St. Louis.) Continued . . .

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"We are losing manuscripts every day. We lack the financial means to catalogue and protect them," said Mr Boularaf, who recently rescued his collection from the rubble of a mud building next door that collapsed after a rainstorm. Now a giant, new, state of the art library has landed - rather like a spaceship - in the dilapidated centre of Timbuktu, offering the best hope of preserving and analysing the town's literary treasures. After several years of building and delays, the doors are finally about to open at the Ahmed Baba Institute's new home - a 200 million rand (£16,428,265) project paid for by the South African government. Saving Africa's precious written heritage

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National Black Political Collection, 1972–1973This collection contains six folders of materials gathered by Guy E. Russell.  The materials relate, mostly, to the National Black Political Convention held in Gary, Indiana on 10–12 March 1972 (folders 1–4).  Of particular note are a conference program, a fact sheet describing the history of the organization, an outline of the delegate selection process in Indiana (folder 1) and a transcript of a speech attributed to Carl B. Stokes, former mayor of Cleveland (folder 2). 

The convention was an outgrowth of planning meetings conducted in 1971 by a broad cross section of black leadership throughout the United States.  There are also materials that relate to state (Indiana State Black Political Caucus) and regional (Mid-West Regional Coalition) initiatives to form coalitions to address various issues pertaining to African Americans.  A 1972 anniversary booklet and a newsletter from the Indiana State Black Caucus are in folder 4.  The Mid-West Regional Coalition, along with several other black organizations hosted the Black Unity Conference held at Dunbar High School in Chicago on 13–15 April 1973.  A program of the conference is in folder 6. Indiana History

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In Timbuktu, a race to preserve Africa's written historyTimbuktu, Mali—Ahmed Saloum Boularaf is holding a leather-bound sheaf of documents that date back to the 13th century. The manuscript contains a poetic rendition of the life of the Prophet Mohammad, written in the lacy Arabic handwriting of an African scholar who knew how to read before some Europeans even knew of the existence of books.

Like most of the 1,700 manuscripts in Mr. Boularaf's private collection—which includes ancient books on medicine and history, astronomy and mathematics— this one is beginning to crumble, and Boularaf knows that in a very short time, his manuscripts and the knowledge they contain, could be lost forever.

“For Africans, this is a treasury of our culture, and my home is open for all the researchers of the world to come,” he says. “My grandfather had the idea that we must copy these manuscripts before they are lost. We have some manuscripts here that are so fragile that if we don’t do something quickly to study them, conserve them, they could be lost.”

Depending on your perspective, Timbuktu is either the end of the world or, if you are coming from the desert, the first welcome sign of civilization. Once a great city of commerce, where camel caravans crossed the Sahara to trade slabs of salt in exchange for gold or slaves, Timbuktu was the meeting place of cultures.

At its height, from the 11th to the 15th centuries, it was a university town with vast libraries. Scientists here were postulating that the earth was round at a time when many European sailors were terrified of sailing off the edge of an earth that they thought was flat.

Some of the manuscripts that were written or collected here were so precious and rare that scholars from as far away as Spain and Egypt would send written requests for copies to be made. CSMonitor

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Finding Aid to the Eugene Ethelbert Miller Papers

(22 September 2000)—Emory & Henry College Special Collections and Archives

Scope/Content: Includes correspondence, flyers, programs, newspaper clippings, transcribed interviews, memorabilia, college course materials, photographs, a videotape, book reviews, magazine articles, and manuscript drafts of E. Ethelbert Miller. Also included are materials associated with the African American Writers Stamp Project which Mr. Miller headed.

Biographical Sketch: E. Ethelbert Miller was born in the Bronx in New York on 20 November 1950. He attended New York City public schools, and enrolled at Howard University in the fall of 1968. Mr. Miller graduated from Howard University in 1972 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in African American Studies. From 1973 to 1974 Mr. Miller worked for Howard University as both a research associate for the Institute of the Arts and Humanities, and as assistant director of the African American Resource Center, and he continues to serve the University in that capacity today.

Professor Miller has published several volumes of poetry and is the editor of several anthologies. Mr. Miller was one of the 60 American authors selected and honored by Laura Bush and The White House at the First National Book Festival, September 8, 2001. He serves on numerous boards (such as the Washington D.C. Humanities Council), and he is a commentator for National Public Radio.

Mr. Miller has served as a visiting professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and adjunct professor at American University.  In 1996 he was the Jessie Ball DuPont Scholar at Emory & Henry College. He was scholar-in-residence at George Mason University for the Spring 2000 semester, and the 2001 Carell Writer-in-Residence at Harpeth Hall School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Booker T. Washington Papers

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The Lee Grue Collection by Susan Tucker—The turquoise house of Lee Grue is tucked into a shady garden, complete with the grave of an unknown poet. Here, for the past two decades, Lee Grue has nurtured her art and the souls of other artists and wanderers. Some of her writing, much of her nurturi ng, and all the good karma of this house and Lee herself are reflected in her papers, recently donated to the Newcomb Archives.

This new collection of more than six boxes of correspondence highlights, above all, conversations of three decades between writers and artists. Well-known authors such as Pinkie Gordon Lane, Maxine Kumin, Gordon Lish, William Stafford, as well as hundred s of other poets and artists from far and wide tell of their lives in letters, notes, and drawings.

Experiences at Bread Loaf in the 1970s and at Warren Wilson College in the 1980s are sprinkled between letters from school children who worked with Lee in the New Orleans Public Schools; families she met during travels in Turkey, New Zealand, Mexico, and other places; and artists who sent drawings in exchange for housing.

Here too are reminiscences of Lee's work to support her writing—as a tarot card reader, a restaurant "spy," a teacher, and an editor. One such memory is described in a letter dated March 24, 1993: "...through New Mexico and Colorado with other Plain View authors. We were four women, one husband, one eleven year old boy, one nineteen year old daughter, one two year old and a baby. All we lacked was a demented parakeet flying back and forth in the van. We did eight performances in ten days in small colleges, bookstores, and in an ex-bordello in Telluride."—Tulane

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Preliminary Guide to the E. Ethelbert Miller Papers 1971-2005—The George Washington University, The Gelman Library, Special Collections Research Center—The collection includes correspondence, fliers, posters, journals, photographs, interviews, and articles related to the artistic life of poet Ethelbert Miller. A small portion of the collection relates to the work of D.C. Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick.— E. Ethelbert Miller papers 1971-2005—A meticulous record keeper, Ethelbert Miller has collected correspondence, fliers, posters, journals, photographs, interviews, and articles spanning his entire career. His journals, revised works and collaborative correspondence allow the opportunity to study his constantly evolving writing process. Through the many features, articles, interview, reviews, awards and certificates, we are able to understand how enthusiastically Miller has been received by his peers within the poetry community as well as outside it. A small portion of the collection relates to the work of D.C. Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick. This collection is not yet processed. Please see staff for assistance. George Washington University

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The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection

Founded in 1941 by Carl Van Vechten, this collection stands as a memorial to Dr. James Weldon Johnson and celebrates the accomplishments of African American writers and artists, beginning with those of the Harlem Renaissance. Grace Nail Johnson contributed her husband's papers, leading the way for gifts of papers from Dr. W. E. B. Du Bois, Walter White and Poppy Cannon White, Dorothy Peterson, Chester Himes, and Langston Hughes. The collection also contains the papers of Richard Wright and Jean Toomer, as well as Robert W. Small Funder groups of manuscripts or correspondence of such writers as Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Wallace Thurman.

Representative manuscripts suggest the richness of the collection: Richard Wright's Native Son ; Jean Toomer's Cane ; Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God ; W. E. B. DuBois's “The Renaissance of Ethics,” his Harvard thesis with annotations by William James; James Weldon Johnson's Autobiography of an Ex-colored Man and God's Trombones ; and Langston Hughes's The Weary Blues. Examples of the abundant correspondence are letters between Owen Dodson and Adam Clayton Powell, Joel Spingarn and W. E. B. DuBois, Georgia Douglas Johnson and William Stanley Braithewaite. The correspondence of Dr. Johnson and Walter White documents the early history of the NAACP. Also present are music manuscripts by W. C. Handy, J. Rosamond Johnson, and Thomas “Fats” Waller, among others.

Carl Van Vechten photographed hundreds of his friends including all the persons mentioned above as well as Alvin Ailey, Marian Anderson, Pearl Bailey, Josephine Baker, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Eartha Kitt, Arthur Mitchell, Paul Robeson, Margaret Walker, and Ethel Waters, to give but a sampling. These photographs, combined with those collected by Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, form an important visual record of artists, writers, actors, musicians, and politicians active in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s. Sculpture by Richmond Barthé, Augusta Savage, and Leslie Bolling, drawings by Mary Bell, a portrait head of Ethel Waters by Antonio Salemme, as well as commemorative medals and prints are among the many works of art in the collection. Added in the 1990s, the Randolph Linsley Simpson Collection of photographs of and by African Americans contains over twenty-five hundred images from across the nation. Its formats span the history of photography, from Daguerreotypes and cabinet cards to photographic postcards and snapshots from 1850 to 1930.

James Weldon Johnson and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson, formed a successful team of lyricist and composer best known for the anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” Less well remembered are the many popular hits they sold as sheet music such as “Under the Bamboo Tree.” They collected sheet music by other African American composers and their collecting pattern continues. Yale Library

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Ralph Ellison

A Register of His Papers in the Library of Congress

Prepared by Donna Ellis
with the assistance of Patricia Craig, Julie Hunsaker, Sherralyn McCoy, John Monagle, Angela Moore, and Andrew Passett

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Ralph Ellison span the years 1890-1996 with the bulk of the items concentrated in the period 1933-1990. The collection documenting Ellison's career as author and educator includes nine series: Family Papers; General Correspondence; Organizations File; Writings File; Speeches, Lectures, and Interviews; Reference File; Miscellany; Closed; and Oversize.

The Family Papers contain personal material pertaining to Ellison, his wife, Fanny McConnell Ellison, and their parents, siblings, former spouses, and other relatives. A substantial file relating to Ellison's employment includes material from his many teaching appointments. Of particular interest are the notes and reports he compiled for the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Fanny Ellison's employment papers document her work for the American Medical Center for Burma through the Harold L. Oram agency and her contribution as one of the founders of the Negro People's Theatre in Chicago. Also noteworthy are her drawings pertaining to the history of costume executed as a WPA project for the Chicago Board of Education. Household papers contain material on the Ellisons' property in New York, Key West, Florida, and Plainfield, Massachusetts. The latter includes insurance records of the fire which destroyed the first drafts of Ellison's unpublished Hickman novel. Other material in the family papers consists of biographical information, financial, legal, and medical records, school and military records, newspaper and magazine articles about Ellison, travel documents, notes, and printed matter. . . . Library of Congress

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The Yale University Jean Toomer Papers

The Jean Toomer Papers contain correspondence; multiple drafts of unpublished books, essays, and other writings; and personal papers documenting the life of Jean Toomer. The papers span the years 1898-1963, but the bulk of the material dates from 1920-1954. Unfortunately, few manuscripts from Toomer's Harlem Renaissance period are preserved. Instead the papers are primarily drafts of his later, philosophical writings.Related papers written by his first wife, Margery Latimer, and transcripts of lectures given by his spiritual mentor, Georges Gurdjieff, as well as typescript drafts of Gurdjieff's Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson can also be found in the collection. The Jean Toomer Papers were donated to The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library by Marjorie Content Toomer in 1980 and transferred to Yale in 1985-88 from Fisk University, where they had been on deposit since 1962. Most of the papers were stamped, numbered, labelled, and annotated with dates and names at Fisk University. Most drafts in the collection were written on highly acidic paper and are in poor condition. Preservation photocopies have been made of all fragile correspondence, notes, and final drafts. Newspaper clippings have also been copied. Yale

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Yale Slavery and Abolition Portal

This site is designed to help researchers and Yale students find primary sources related to slavery, abolition, and resistance within the university's many libraries and galleries. Across the top of the website, you will find the chance to view relevant collections in each Yale institution. You can view items across the different institutions by entering a keyword or phrase on the search page.

You can also sort items according to a particular period, place, or topic by selecting a category from the tag cloud. Under links, you will find a collection of electronic databases that provide access to digital resources with significant relevant content. Yale     My Archival Experience

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The Nikki Giovanni Collection

The Mugar Memorial Library of Boston University

Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center

The Nikki Giovanni collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, photographs, subject files, printed material, professional material, personal memorabilia, audio, video, and artwork. 

The collection includes drafts of several hundred poems by Giovanni, dating from the late 1960s to the 2000s.  These are often photocopies, carbons, computer printouts, or galley proofs; many items have been corrected by hand.  Also present are manuscripts for collections of Giovanni’s poems, as well as other works . . . .

Other manuscripts by Giovanni in the collection include drafts of some short fiction; book reviews, newspaper columns, and other non-fiction articles by Giovanni, for Negro Digest, Mademoiselle, Saturday Review, Viva, Brothers and Sisters, and other publication;  pieces written for a column called “The Root of the Matter”; contributions and forwards for various books; contributions to collected works of essays and poetry; interviews with various individuals, including James Baldwin (for SOUL!), Prof. James MacGregor of Williams College, Gladys Knight, and Zhenya Yevtushenko (for Encore); and early writings by Giovanni, such as high school papers and other schoolwork from 1958-1960 and writings from Giovanni’s time at Fisk University in the 1960s (including a number of poems).  Other juvenilia includes short writings and drawings by Giovanni,  school records, report cards, yearbooks from the 1950s, and other material. . . .

Correspondence in the collection is extensive, dating primarily from 1970-2007, with some dating back to 1964.  Much of the correspondence, especially the later letters, consists of fan mail to Giovanni from various readers.  Notable correspondents include Arthur Ashe, James Baldwin, Barry Beckham, Ray Blanton (Governor of Tennessee), Julian Bond, Gwendolyn Brooks, H. Rap Brown, Shirley Chisholm, Bill Clinton, Jackie Early, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Leslie Fiedler, Roberta Flack, Katharine Graham, Alex Haley, William Randolph Heart III, John O. Killens, Jerzy Kosinski, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Thurgood Marshall, Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, Lindsay Patterson, Barbara Walters, Oprah Winfrey, and Charles Rangel (Congressman from New York).

There are numerous photographs in the collection.  Most of the photos include images of Giovanni, ranging from professional portraits to informal snapshots.  Also present are many photos of Giovanni’s friends and family.  Images of others include Julian Bond, H. Rap Brown, and Lena Horne.  Also present are several photos of Africa, including Giovanni’s program at Enugu, Nigeria in 1973. . . .

Audio recordings in the collection include various recordings of Giovanni reading poetry and giving talks. . . . Video recordings in the collection consist almost totally of VHS video tapes, with some Beta tapes included as well.  The tapes include Giovanni appearing on various television programs aired on CNN, BET and other channels; and Giovanni giving readings, talks, and interviews at universities and cities around the country, from the 1980s to about 2000. Artwork in the collection mainly consists of sketches and paintings representing Giovanni.  Also present are prints by various artists, as well as other miscellaneous works.
Boston University Archives

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Alma Woodsey Thomas (September 22, 1891 – February 24, 1978) was an African American Expressionist painter and art educator. Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Thomas moved to Washington, D.C. with her family in 1907. In 1924, she was the first graduate of Howard University's art department.In 1934, Thomas became the first African American woman to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. She was also the first African American woman to have a solo exhibit at the Whitney Museum of American Art.Wikipedia

Thomas originally enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. as a home economics major in 1921, but after studying under Prof. James V. Herring in his newly established art department, she earned a B. S. degree in Fine Arts in 1924. . . . The Alma Thomas papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship.AAA

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UT Arlington Library to receive historical papers of Negro League baseball player, African-American newspaper publisher, William Blair Jr.—2 Jun, 2012—The University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections Library has been named the repository of an extensive collection of newspapers, photos and personal memorabilia from William “Bill” Blair Jr., a former Negro League baseball pitcher, a Dallas civic and business leader and founder of the Elite News. Blair, who is 90, will sign the deed of gift at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at The University of Texas at Arlington Central Library, in the Sixth Floor Atrium, 702 Planetarium Place. The event is open to the public. Blair said he is making his personal holdings available to the public with hope that others may learn from his experiences. “There are people who are not interested in anything until it happens to them,” Blair said. “But if you read and see photos, you learn.” Ann Hodges, special collections program coordinator, negotiated acquisition of the William Blair Collection with W. Marvin Dulaney, chair of the UT Arlington Department of History, and Brenda McClurkin, the library’s historical manuscripts archivist. The records hold particular importance for the North Texas region, Hodges said.

“The acquisition of the William Blair Collection greatly enhances Special Collections’ holdings of African-American archival materials,” Hodges said. “This collection will allow us to preserve the story of a living legend in the African-American community for generations to come.”cisionwireSatchel Paige Sports  

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#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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