Toni Morrison Papers

(Source: Posted on October 17, 2014 by Don Skemer, RBSC Manuscripts Division News, Princeton University Library)

Princeton University is pleased to announce that the Papers of Toni Morrison, celebrated American author and Nobel Laureate, have found their permanent home in the Princeton University Library. President Christopher L. Eisgruber made the announcement on Friday, October 17, in Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium, during the conference Coming Back: Reconnecting Princeton’s Black Alumni. “Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched, and I am overjoyed that we are adding her papers to the Princeton University Library’s collections,” said Princeton President Eisgruber. “This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison’s remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works. We at Princeton are fortunate that Professor Morrison brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy.”

Morrison’s papers will be among the most important collections in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which has extensive holdings of modern literary and publishing archives. In the next year, priority will be given to the arrangement, description, cataloging, preservation, and selective digitization of the papers, in order to make them available for research consultation.

The Papers of Toni Morrison contain approximately 180 linear feet of research materials that document the author’s life, work, and writing methods. The papers have been gathered from many locations over time, beginning with manuscripts and other original materials that the Library’s Preservation Office recovered and conserved after the tragic fire in 1993 at the author’s home in Rockland County, New York. Most important are manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and related files pertaining to Morrison’s novels on the African American experience: The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), and Home (2012). The working materials provide additional evidence of the author’s approach to the physical act of writing.

Also included are similar materials for the author’s play Dreaming Emmett, children’s books, short fiction, song lyrics, an opera libretto, lectures, and non-fiction writing, as well as extensive literary and professional correspondence, fan mail, diaries and appointment books, photographs, audiobooks, videotapes, juvenilia, memorabilia, course materials, annotated student papers, academic office files, and press clippings. Complementing the papers are printed editions of Morrison’s published works and translations into more than twenty languages. Additional manuscripts and papers will be added over time, beginning with the manuscript of Morrison’s forthcoming novel.

(To read the complete press release, see The Papers of Toni Morrison come to Princeton).

Yale Acquires Poetry Records

(Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Library News, October 6, 2014)

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University has acquired the records of Cave Canem Foundation, among the nation’s most influential organizations supporting African American poetry.

“The Cave Canem archive is an incomparable record of the African American poetry community over the past two decades,” says Nancy Kuhl, curator of poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Library. “We welcome the opportunity to both serve the Cave Canem community as steward and caretaker of its archival record, and to collaborate as partners in preserving and promoting the archive for future poets, readers, students, and scholars.”

Poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady founded Cave Canem in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in MFA programs and writing workshops. The organization has become an influential movement with a renowned faculty and a national fellowship of nearly 400 poets. Its programs include an annual weeklong writing retreat, book prizes, community-based workshops, publications and national readings.

“Our records chart the growth of Cave Canem the community and Cave Canem the organization, and also tell the story of a rapidly changing literary landscape,” says Cave Canem’s executive director Alison Meyers. “Our hope is that the archive will help illuminate the essential contributions of contemporary Black poets to American art and thought. We’re very pleased that Cave Canem’s history will live on in the Beinecke’s James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, a fitting home.”

Cave Canem Foundation archive, which approximately covers from 1997 to 2012, contains paper and digital office files and records, including correspondence, financial reports, and operational materials documenting such activities as fundraising, governance, programming, and publication projects. As part of The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, the archive will join a world-class collection of materials documenting African American arts and culture.

(For complete article, see Beinecke Library Acquires Records of Cave Canem Foundation).

Rosa Parks Collection

(Source: Todd Spangler, USA Today, September 10, 1014)

WASHINGTON — A collection of more than a thousand items that belonged to the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks — including her Presidential Medal of Freedom —  will be housed by the Library of Congress.

Librarian of Congress James Billington announced Tuesday that the collection would reside at the library on a decade-long loan from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which purchased the collection from Parks’ estate for $4.5 million in August.

Buffett is the son of billionaire financier Warren Buffett. The items had remained in warehouses for years since Parks’ 2005 death in her adopted home of Detroit at age 92 as her heirs wrangled over the assets.

Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, sparking a bus boycott considered central to the civil rights movement and the end of government-sanctioned segregation.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1996.

Parks’ collection is made up of some 1,500 items including personal correspondence and photographs, autobiographical notes, letters from presidents, a Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 1999, clothing, furniture and 200 drawings by schoolchildren and hundreds of greeting cards from individuals thanking her for her inspirational role in the civil rights movement.

 Next spring, items from the collection will be incorporated into “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” a year-long exhibit opening today. Library staff will also digitize documents and visual materials and make them available through its website.
(The complete story is available at Library of Congress to house Rosa Parks collection ).

Black Film Center Archive

Black film advocate Mary Perry Smith donates large collection to IU’s Black Film Center/Archive

Saturday, April 19, 2014

(Source: News, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, Indiana University.

The Indiana University Black Film Center/Archive has received a donated collection from black film advocate and lifelong educator Mary Perry Smith, co-founder of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

Smith, born in Evansville, Ind., in 1926 and who currently lives in Oakland, Calif., donated the collection after meeting in 2013 with Michael T. Martin, director of the Black Film Center/Archive, and archivist Brian Graney. Smith recalled that the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame had influenced the establishment of the Black Film Center/Archive in 1981, and said she had provided early mentorship to the center’s founding director, Phyllis Klotman.

This unique collection comprises over 300 linear feet of records, audiovisual materials, publications and memorabilia from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Included in the collection is the original grave maker of Oscar Micheaux, the first African American filmmaker to produce a feature-length film, in 1919.

The donation and transfer of the collection to Indiana University proceeded with major support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Indiana University Foundation and Indiana University Libraries.

Once the collection is processed by archivists, it will be made available for researchers at the Black Film Center/Archive, located in the Herman B Wells Library at IU Bloomington. Audiovisual materials in the collection will be processed for digitization through the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, a $15 million initiative announced by IU President Michael A. McRobbie in October 2013.

“The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame collection is a treasure,” Graney said. “It illuminates the black presence in film history and adds to our historical understanding of the growth of black filmmaking — both Hollywood and independent — over the late 20th century.”

Martin added that the collection will enrich the campus’s growing film culture and provide teaching and research resources for The Media School, which will unite the faculties of the School of Journalism, the Department of Communication and Culture and the Department of Telecommunications on July 1.

“The potential of this collection is enormous, and it will contribute significantly to the film renaissance that’s been ongoing on the IU Bloomington campus,” he said. “It will have a palpable impact on the study of film — in particular black film — and on media in general.”

The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame is recognized today for its groundbreaking research to document the historical contributions of black artists in film and television, and for its support of independent film and video artists expressing more positive and multi-dimensional black screen images. For 20 years, the organization hosted the annual Oscar Micheaux Awards and other programs including symposia and film festivals.

The donated collection from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame also includes the following unique items:

  • An oil painting of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, an actress in the early 20th century and the daughter of freed slaves.
  • Costumes, including items worn by the dancing team the Nicholas Brothers and American actress, poet and playwright Ruby Dee.
  • Original Hollywood musical scores and arrangements by musician Phil Moore, who became the first African American composer on staff at a major studio when he joined MGM Studios in 1942.

LC Gets Oral History Archive

Library of Congress Gets African-American Oral History Archive

The iconic library has acquired The HistoryMakers archive of iconic interviews detailing African-American life, history and culture.

By: Breanna Edwards

 (Source: The Root, Posted: June 24 2014 4:07 PM)

The Library of Congress is now the home of The HistoryMakers collection, which details the black experience in America, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced on Tuesday.

“The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity,” Billington said in a press release. “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

Consisting of thousands of hours of content and including 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 “born-digital” files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files, and more than 3,000 digital photographs, The HistoryMakers is just about the largest project of its type, founder and Executive Director Julieanna Richardson noted.

“The HistoryMakers represents the single largest archival project of its kind since the Works Progress Administration’s initiative to document the experiences of former slaves in the 1930s,” Richardson explained. “This relationship with the Library of Congress represents a momentous occasion for our organization. With the Library of Congress serving as our permanent repository, we are assured of its preservation and safekeeping for generations to come.”

The library was given the digital files with all of the analog tapes, consisting of approximately 2,600 videotaped interviews with black Americans in 39 states.

“The collection is one of the most well-documented and organized audiovisual collections that the Library of Congress has ever acquired,” Mike Mashon, head of the library’s Moving Image Section, said in the release. “It is also one of the first born-digital collections accepted into our nation’s repository.”

The HistoryMakers was launched in the summer of 1999 as a nonprofit research and educational institution, set on creating an archival collection of oral histories. Richardson and her team have been to almost 300 U.S. cities and towns and have traveled as far as Norway in hopes of capturing the missing stories of American history.

New Digital Acquisition

The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 1 (ProQuest History Vault) consists of primary source documents from the personal papers of African Americans and records of civil rights organizations.  Covering 1895 to 1992, this module focuses on the experiences of individual African Americans, as told through diaries, personal correspondence and more.  Included are the personal papers of Claude A. Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, A. Philip Randolph, and Bayard Rustin.  In addition, the module includes important records from a number of organizations including the American Committee on Africa, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Revolutionary Action Movement, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Gwendolyn Brooks Archive Acquired

The extensive literary manuscripts and archives of Gwendolyn E. Brooks (1917-2000), Illinois Poet Laureate and the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize, are now part of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The archive, spans more than six decades, and includes some of Brooks’s earliest surviving poetry and prose written when she was a teenager, as well as early scrapbooks and clippings of pieces she published as a young woman in The Chicago Defender. In addition, the archive contains extensive correspondence, manuscripts, and informal jottings, annotations, and observations. The largest portion of Brooks’s archive documents her career after leaving mainstream commercial publishing to produce her works with small presses and black-owned imprints, including her own imprint The David Company.

Brooks preserved drafts and notes for her outgoing letters alongside the letters she received. The list of her regular correspondents includes a significant roster of mid-century African-American writers and poets. A lifelong Chicagoan, her circle also includes many important figures associated with that city.

Regarding the acquisition, Jubilee Professor Cary Nelson said the “opportunity to obtain the large and well-organized archive of the most distinguished African-American poet of the second half of the 20th century—and an Illinois native to boot—represents one of the most compelling opportunities the humanities are likely ever to confront at Illinois.”

“We collect authors’ archives in order to document and preserve the creative process,” said Rare Book & Manuscript Library Director Valerie Hotchkiss. “To have the papers of Gwendolyn Brooks, a compelling voice in American poetry, will help us better understand her poetry, its influences, and the times in which she lived. It will be thrilling for students to see the author’s hand and to get insight into her creativity through her papers.”

The extensive notebooks and various annotations found throughout the archive show the poet as an inveterate scribbler. Her jottings range from details of menus and shopping to observations of daily life and current events and turns of phrase that might be incorporated into poetry at some point. There are travel journals, diet journals, drafts of speeches and lectures, along with verse fragments and drafts of poems and letters. Hotchkiss notes, “It will be a treasure trove for researchers.” The wealth of material that can be tapped for teaching within the University’s curriculum and beyond is also important to the mission of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. It has a history of reaching out to primary and secondary schools, as it often does with its Sandburg archive. Hotchkiss believes “the connections that will be made with young people—from school children to college students—would have pleased the poet most.”

“Not only was Gwendolyn Brooks one of the indisputably great American poets of the 20th century, but she was the second recipient of the lifetime appointment as Poet Laureate of Illinois, following Carl Sandburg who was the first,” said Professor Emeritus of English Laurence Lieberman. “I can’t think of any other poetry acquisition that would honor the University of Illinois Library more.”

University Librarian and Dean of Libraries John Wilkin concluded, “The acquisition of this important archive will be celebrated with poetry readings, special events, and an exhibition in the near future.” The acquisition of the Gwendolyn E. Brooks archives was made possible with the financial support of the Office of the University President, the Office of the Chancellor, the Library Friends, and the Library’s general materials allocation.

Black Studies in Video

The updated material in Black Studies in Video includes:

1) Over 30 hours of exclusive material from Tony Brown’s Journal, the longest running of all national public affairs TV series on PBS. Picked by the New York Daily News as a top 10 program representing the black image, the weekly series aired for nearly four decades (1968-2008).

This is just the first installment of Tony Brown’s Journal content, with at least 370 more hours of the series to come in future updates. Here are some of the highlighted episodes from this upload (all fully transcribed):

The President and Black America (1982) Tony Brown interviews President Ronald Reagan about the status of black Americans. Topics discussed include unemployment rates, affirmative action, the administration’s position on South Africa.

In The Words of Frederick Douglass (1999) In the 1960s, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the premier spokesman for the Black community, articulating the struggle for freedom and equality. Rev. King carried on the tradition of another eloquent voice for Black progress, Frederick Douglass.

Are Black Gays Part of the Family? (2004) In this episode, Tony interviews two Black religious leaders who express their opposition to homosexual marriage and civil unions, voicing their criticisms of homosexual activists who claim the right to marry as a civil right.

Did History Miss Emmett Till? (2004) Author Clenora Hudson-Weems examines the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till in Money, Mississippi. She also challenges the widespread belief that Rosa Parks’ refusal to surrender her seat on a segregated bus precipitated the modern civil rights movement. Instead, she believes, it was Till’s murder that was the catalyst of the movement in the 50s and 60s.

Origins, Part I (2001) Dr. Khalid Al-Mansour, author of numerous books on Black history and culture, discusses the origin and achievements of the Black African Diaspora.

2) Additionally, two new documentary titles were added to the collection:

Julian Bond: Reflections from the Frontlines of the Civil Rights Movement: This enlightening portrait joins African American social activist Julian Bond as he traces his roots back to slavery. A leader in the Civil Rights Movement, Julian Bond was among the founders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leader of the 1963 March on Washington, and a Georgia legislator for twenty years.

The Powerbroker: Whitney Young’s Fight for Civil Rights The Powerbroker portrays the life of Whitney Young, once called “the inside man of the black revolution.” As Executive Director of the National Urban League from 1961 to 1971, he helped thousands of people struggling against discrimination.

Researching Hip Hop Culture

By Graham Bryant ’13

(Source: William & Mary News & Events, April 5, 2013)

Antiquated manuscripts, rare books and memorabilia from the William & Mary’s storied history are all among the items one would expect to find when searching through Swem Library’s Special Collections.

Among the letters, artifacts and other scholarly records from ages past, researchers will soon be able to discover such artifacts as SMILES Crew’s first boombox or a cassette tape of Mighty MCs recordings.

On April 19, Special Collections will launch the William & Mary Hip-Hop Collection, the most comprehensive collection of its kind devoted to chronicling Virginia’s hip-hop past from the 1980s to the present through oral histories, recordings, publications and other ephemera created by Virginia-based artists, collectives and businesses.

“We, as an institution, have been collecting music for a century. What prompted the vision of starting a hip-hop collection is the need to look at the space we are at in the history of hip-hop,” said Amy Schindler, university archivist and Acting Marian and Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center.

“Hip-hop has been around since the 1970s, and we’re in a space now where some of the early people are no longer with us. We need to work with people now to get that history,” she added.

NOTE:  Graham Bryant’s complete article can be viewed at New collection documents Virginia’s hip-hop history.

Heritage Project

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 8,  2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The University of  Indianapolis is teaming up with, the world’s largest online  family history resource, in a first-of-its-kind initiative to encourage students  to explore and reflect on how their family history impacts their identity.

All UIndy students, faculty and staff have been granted access to content from computers and mobile devices anywhere on campus. That  content – 11 billion searchable documents and images – includes census records,  prison logs, ship manifests, historic newspapers and yearbook photos in addition  to 40 million online family trees.

The company is providing on-campus workshops and seminars to help the UIndy  community make the most of the online product. UIndy faculty members,  particularly in disciplines such as history, are enthusiastic about the  classroom potential of giving students easy access to the vast database of  historical documents.

Although has worked previously with libraries and other  institutions, this is its first such relationship in the field of higher  education.

At UIndy, the access is a key component in the annual University  Series of programs and events. This year’s series features guest speakers,  discussions and workshops built around the theme “Who Do You Think You Are?”

As a starting point for the students’ exploration of heritage, the university  adopted a common reader for the campus community, the 2009 book The Ties That  Bind: A Memoir of Race, Memory, and Redemption by Bertice Berry. Berry, an African-American sociologist  and writer, explored her family history and found a story far more complex than  the black-and-white tale of slavery and tragedy that she expected. Three-fourths  of the university’s incoming freshmen voluntarily bought the book, and hundreds  attended a campus lecture by Berry in September.

Read more: UIndy Teams with