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.

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

Pearl Cleage Papers

(Source: Maureen McGavin, Emory News Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, Aug. 28, 2012)

 Pearl Cleage, the nationally recognized playwright, poet, novelist, social activist and Atlanta resident, has placed her papers at Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library. The collection is now open to researchers.

“Pearl Cleage exemplifies the creative life,” says Rosemary Magee, vice president and secretary of Emory University. “Her stories, poems and plays all display the imaginative interplay of lives in search of meaning. It is indeed an honor to have her papers at Emory.”

Randall K. Burkett, Emory’s curator of African American collections, says the acquisition of Cleage’s papers “adds luster to our holdings of brilliant African American women writers, artists and activists. These include such talented individuals as Camille Billops, Elaine Brown, Lucille Clifton, Doris Derby, Samella Lewis, Louise Thompson Patterson, Mildred Thompson and Alice Walker. Cleage fits well in this pantheon of leading creative figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.”

Cleage said she decided to place her papers with MARBL at Emory for several reasons, including prior discussions with the late Emory professor Rudolph Byrd, a MARBL supporter, and with Burkett.

“I really appreciated the way [Burkett] approached collecting African American material as an integral part of American culture,”she says, adding that she felt “Emory was a place that would value the work that I’ve done and make the papers available in a way that would make it productive to place them there.”

For complete article, see Pearle Cleage places her Archives at Emory.