Friday, March 26, 2010

My Internship Experience at the Amistad Research Center

My name is Nika and I’m a graduate student in Museum Studies at Southern University at New Orleans. For the past seven months, I have worked as an intern here at the Amistad Research Center in the processing department. When I first started interning here, I spent most of my time writing biographical notes and inputting data into Archon, the searchable archival database. I found it to be interesting because I would get the chance to research a historical figure or organization.

One of the first collections I entered was the Frank Smith Horne papers. I’d never heard of him until I started at the Amistad Research Center. Horne was an optometrist, poet, writer, college administrator, and government official. It amazed me at how much this man accomplished in his life. Who would have ever thought that an optometrist could become a government official? I would attribute this career change to the times. During the early 20th century, there was a move to end discrimination against minorities in the United States. This would have been one of the primary reasons for Horne to make a shift toward working with the National Committee against Discrimination in Housing and other federal agencies that contributed to the fight against discrimination.

Most recently, I was asked to arrange the newspaper clippings from the James Egert Allen Papers. At first glance, this task seemed like it would take a day or two of work. But, the day or two turned into taking two weeks! First, I organized the clippings chronologically. Then, I photocopied each article onto acid free paper.

Even though care was taken to preserve the original newspaper clippings, due to the fragile nature of the acid newspaper, several miniscule pieces of disintegrated newspaper clippings were everywhere. The picture below is an understatement. Preservation of the text of the newspaper clippings was exactly why I was transferring the clippings to acid-free paper.

While sorting the clippings, I realized that they play a major role in figuring out the context of the times. Besides the focus of the clippings on specific events, I was interested in the adjacent articles. These clippings can be used to give a picture of the culture and fashion of the era in which they were produced. Below are clippings from the “Week’s Top Tunes” of January 14, 1961 from the Courier and another article from Afro American Magazine about twelve Spelman students listed in the Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges for 1966.

I think that the most thought provoking clippings were articles by J.A. Rogers. James Egert Allen collected the “Your History” clippings from The Pittsburgh Courier.

I came across Rogers’ editorials several times. They captivated me because of the arrangement. Each article had an illustration of the subject Rogers was writing about. I thought that it was an ingenious way of presenting historical information about Black history. I felt enlightened, but unsettled. I wanted to know more about Rogers. I wanted to know more about his background and how he developed his passion for African American history. Also, I wanted to know his role in the documenting of Black history. This is going to be the start of my thesis! I owe it all to the task of photocopying the newspaper clippings. It may have been tedious, but it has become the groundwork of my research.

Posted by Nika B. Carter

(From the James Egert Allen papers, Amistad Research Center.  Images may not be reproduced without consent.)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Beyond the Blues: An Art Exhibition at the New Orleans Museum of Art


The Amistad Research Center in partnership with the New Orleans Museum of Art will present Beyond the Blues:  Reflections on African America from the Fine Arts Collection of the Amistad Research Center from April 11 through July 11, 2010. 

This multifaceted project illuminates the contributions of African American artists over the past 125 years with over 150 paintings, works on paper, sculpture and other media.  The exhibition is augmented by pertinent selections from the personal papers of the artists held at the Amistad Research Center.  The manuscripts component of the exhibition facilitates a deep contextualization of the artists' lives and their work, offering a perspective rarely seen in a museum setting. 

The Center's art collection is best known for its works by Harlem Renaissance artists, and works by such luminaries as William H. Johnson, Lois Mailou Jones, Sargent Johnson, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Richmond Barthe, Hale Woodruff, Aaron Douglas, and Ellis Wilson are a concerstone of this project.  However, the contributions of African American artists extend far beyond this glorious period.  Thus, important late 19th and early 20th century artists such as Edward Bannister and Henry O. Tanner, as well as those whose careers occurred in later decades, such as Selma Burke, John Biggers, Elizabeth Catlett, John T. Scott, and Jeffrey Cook, among others, are featured in this exhibition. 

After its closing, the exhibition will travel to selected venues throughout the United States. 

The official website of the exhibition includes artist biographies, selections, and further details regarding the exhibition and pulic programming. 

New Orleans Museum of Art
Admission:  Wednesdays are free for all museum visitors. 
Louisiana residents with valid photo identification:  Adults, $8; Seniors (65 and up), $7; Children 3-17, $4; Children under 3, free. 
Out-of-state visitors:  Adults, $10; Seniors (65 and up), $9; Children 3-17, $5; Children under 3, free. 
Hours:  Wednesdays: 12-8pm; Thursdays to Sundays: 10am-5pm.  The New Orleans Museum of Art is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

1st image:  Aaron Douglas' Portrait of a Lady
2nd image:  Richmond Barthe's Shoeshine Boy
3rd image:  Edward Bannister's Cows in Landscape

(Images from the art collection of the Amistad Research Center and may not be reproduced without explicit permission.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Moses Hogan and His Music

Tomorrow marks the birthday of famed composer Moses Hogan, one of the most renowned arrangers of classic spirituals and gospel music.  Born in New Orleans in 1957, Hogan was strongly influenced by the African American choral music he grew up around, including that of his home church, New Zion Baptist Church.  Hogan, along with fellow classmate Branford Marsalis, was among the first graduates of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, and he continued his formal study of music at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. 

Hogan was an accomplished pianist before the age of ten, and he earned a degree in piano performance from Oberlin in 1979.  After graduating, Hogan continued his studies in piano performance at Julliard and enjoyed a brief career as a solo pianist.  Hogan worked as an accompanist to opera singer Martina Arroyo at Louisiana State University from 1985 to 1986, but he ultimately abandoned work as a pianist to devote more time to composing. 

In 1980, Hogan founded the New World Ensemble in New Orleans, an all-volunteer choral group made up of local music educators.  While leading this group, Hogan became concerned about the decreasing popularity of traditional spirituals.  This sparked Hogan's interest in working to revive choral singing of spirituals by composing new arrangements.  Hogan remained committed both to New Orleans and to spirituals.  In 1993, Hogan began as artist-in-residence at Dillard University, and he formed the Moses Hogan Chorale.  This group performed concert spiritual arrangements to international audiences. 

Yet another group, the Moses Hogan Singers, was formed through national audition and gained even more notoriety than his other groups.  The Moses Hogan Singers performed at the Kennedy Center and the Sydney Opera House, among other places, and they released their debut album, Give Me Jesus, with EMI in 2002. 

Though he was an extraordinary instrumentalist, Hogan's legacy is as a composer and arranger.  Hogan published numerous arrangements with Hal Leonard and was the editor of the 2002 Oxford Book of Spirituals.  His major arrangements appear in the 2003 compilation This Little Light of Mine.  Hogan is almost single-handedly responsible for the emergence of concert spirituals into the standard choral repertoire, and he is credited with the popularization of professional choral spiritual singing.  Though he died in 2003, Hogan's arrangements are today standard works for high schools, churches, and professional and community choirs.  His arrangements - often a cappella - are marked by rhythmic and harmonic complexity. 

Ths Moses Hogan Papers are held at the Amistad Research Center.  The collection consists of personal correspondence, music scores, film and audio reels from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, audio reels of the Moses Hogan Chorale, and other related materials.  For any inquiries on this or any collections, please email the reference staff at the center. 

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(From the Moses Hogan Papers, Amistad Research Center.  Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Lucile L. Hutton Papers

Lucile Levy Hutton, 1916. Photo credit: A.P. Bedou

Amistad staff are pleased to announce that the guide for the Lucile Hutton papers is now available online. Lucile Levy Hutton, a New Orleans native, was an active participant in New Orleans music circles. She was a longtime music teacher at Valena C. Jones Elementary School, a piano teacher, and a member of the B-Sharp Music Club and the Gentilly Dirt Dobblers among other musical affiliations.

Hutton began teaching in the New Orleans Public School System in 1916 and remained until her retirement in 1962. She taught at Valena C. Jones Elementary School for 12 years, and later served as consultant in vocal music for 23 years. She acted as commentator for the Booker T. Washington Series of Young People's Concerts sponsored by the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra and as coordinator of the annual Music Festival of Negro Public Schools held in the Municipal Auditorium from 1948 to 1962. She also conducted a private piano studio at her home.

Hutton was also a long time member of Central Congregational United Church of Christ, serving as its historian from 1958 to 1983. She authored the church's history covering 116 years in a publication entitled, "This is a Grand Work: A History of Central Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) New Orleans, Louisiana, 1871-1977." She was a member of several professional, civic, and cultural organizations, among which were Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Dillard University Alumni Association, Friends of the Amistad Research Center, New Orleans Retired Teachers Association of the Louisiana Retired Teachers Association, and the New Orleans Y.W.C.A.

This collection contains correspondence; oral history interviews with Hutton; biographies of her ancestry; commencement and class reunion programs (1936-1985) from Valena C. Jones School; programs of school musical events (1936-1962), a copy of her publication, "This Is A Grand Work: A History of Central Congregational Church (United Church of Christ) New Orleans, Louisiana, 1871-1977"; catalogs from Straight University (1902-1930); photographs (1852-1982) of her family and friends; and by-laws and constitution for Amistad Research Center, B-Sharp Music Club (1951, 1985) and the Gentilly Dirt Dobblers (1951-1959).

Access to Hutton’s full biography and guide is available here at the Center’s searchable archival database.

Posted by Amber L. Moore

(From the Lucile Hutton papers, Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Ronnie Moore Papers

Amistad staff are pleased to announce that the guide for the Ronnie Moore papers is available online. Ronnie Moore is a civil rights activist, community development consultant and photographer from New Orleans. He was a field secretary in the South for the Congress of Racial Equality (1961-1965) and the executive director of the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality, Inc. (1965-1973).

Moore began working full-time as a field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in 1961. In this position, Moore worked on CORE's Southern program where he established voter registration initiatives in the South. In 1965, Moore was appointed as the executive director of the Scholarship, Education and Defense Fund for Racial Equality, Inc. (SEDFRE), a leadership training organization committed to serving civil rights organizations and producing community leaders. As executive director, Moore was responsible for staff recruitment and the development of leadership programs in more than 25 states.

The majority of his collection consists of photographs (1964-1972) from his involvement in the 1965 Voter Registration Drives in Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina; various conferences; elections; demonstrations and workshops in Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina; and other activities in the South, Connecticut, Indiana, New Hampshire, and Virginia.

Bogalusa, Louisiana Demonstration, 1964

The online guide for the Ronnie Moore papers can be found here at the Center’s searchable archival database.  The Amistad Research Center received funding from The Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) Cataloging Hidden and Special Collections Program to process nine manuscript collections documenting Civil Rights era organizational history.  The Ronnie Moore papers are one of the first to be processed under the CLIR grant.

Posted by Amber L. Moore

(From the Ronnie Moore papers, Amistad Research Center. Images may not be reproduced without permission.)