Tuesday, August 30, 2011

e-Amistad Reports August 2011 edition now online

The August 2011 edition of e-Amistad Reports is now online. Amistad's quarterly electronic newsletter features news about the Center, its staff and collections, as well as upcoming events.  This issue features articles on the donation of a significant library collection to the Center, the Countee Cullen Correspondence Online Project, unique audiovisual holdings, grant news, and more. Check it out!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. and the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

This Sunday marks the anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and was to be the official dedication day for the new Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial. Although the dedication day has been postponed, the Amistad Research Center would like to mark the anniversary and has added the finding aid to the Robert G. Sherer Collection to its online finding aid database.

Organizing manual for
the March on Washington
The collection contains photographs, texts of speeches, and other materials that document the march, which took place on August 28, 1963. Organized by leaders of various civil rights organizations, including CORE, NAACP, SNCC, SCLC, and the National Urban League, the day featured speeches by John Lewis, Whitney M. Young Jr., Eugene Carson Blake, Rabbi Joachim Prinz, Mathew Ahmann, and others. It was at this march where Dr. King delivered his I Have a Dream speech.

Included in the Sherer collection are texts for many of the speeches delivered that day, including the advance text of Dr. King's speech, which lacks the improvised "I Have a Dream" section. Also present is the unedited version of the speech delivered by John Lewis of SNCC, which caused controversy among civil rights leaders due to its harsh tone against the Kennedy administration and the fact that the speech was edited prior to Lewis' delivery.

Although the Sherer collection is small (3 folders), it provides a wonderful glimpse into one of the most significant demonstrations of the Civil Rights Movement.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Robert G. Sherer Collection. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Finding Aid for Fannie C. Williams Papers Now Online

Fannie C. Williams, 1882-1980, was the principal at Valena C. Jones Elementary and Normal Schools in New Orleans, Louisiana, from about 1921-1954. Williams was a pioneer in African American education and public schools in the South, and she served on many boards for a variety of local organizations, as well as participated in conferences hosted by three American presidents.  Williams was widely respected as a principal and was devoted to professional development, which motivated her students and teachers to pursue higher education and higher-level positions in the school systems across the country.

Graduates of the Adult Home
Nursing Class at the YWCA Claiborne
Avenue Branch, June 1963
The papers of Fannie C. Williams encompass 1.8 linear feet and reflect her career and life commitment to African American education and work with young people in New Orleans, most notably between 1908 and 1954, when she served as a teacher and principal in the New Orleans public school system. Also of special note are over 250 photographs documenting the Claiborne Avenue Branch of the YWCA in New Orleans, Louisiana. Williams served as an organizer, charter member, and first president of the branch, which served the African American population of the city.  The photographs include YWCA activities, from the 1950s and 1960s, particularly for classes, clubs, conferences, and events. Selected photographs have been digitized and are available for viewing via the online finding aid linked above.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Fannie C. Williams Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Finding Aids for Camilla Williams Papers Now Online

Camilla Williams in the title
role for Madama Butterfly.
The finding aids for the Camilla Williams Papers and an addendum to her papers are now online with an expanded description of the numerous photographs in the collections. Ms. Williams papers document her career as an acclaimed operatic singer and concert artist in the United States and abroad. She has been credited with being the first African American woman to hold a regular position with a leading United States opera company, and Williams’ other accolades include: two-time winner of the Marian Anderson Award; prominent performer of the title role in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and protégé of the creator or the role, Geraldine Farrar; “Bess” in the first complete phonographic recording of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess; performer of the title role in the Vienna premiere of Menotti’s Saint of Bleeker Street; recitalist; cultural ambassadress for the U.S. State Department; and college teacher of voice.

Amistad is also pleased to announce that Ms. Williams' autobiography, The Life of Camilla Williams: African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva, was recently published by Edwin Mellen Press. Additional online finding aids for the papers of African American classical and operatic singers housed at the Center include those for William Warfield and Anne Wiggins Brown. The John Wesley Dobbs Family Papers also include material related to Mattiwilda Dobbs Janzon, and finding aids for the papers of Carol Brice and Thomas Carey will be online in the near future.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Camilla Williams Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spider-Man and the Politics of Race

The latest addition to the Amistad Research Center's growing Comics and Graphic Novels Collection is issue #4 of Marvel Comics' Ultimate Fallout series, which centers on the aftermath following the death of one of the comic world's most well-known characters - Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man. The death of a well-known and long-standing character will always bring about debate among comics fans, but much of the media focus on this issue has been on Parker's replacement, Miles Morales. Matthew Newton at Forbes.com has provided a look at the media coverage and racial politics in his article "How the Media Reacted to News of a Non-White Spider-Man."

Ultimate Fallout #4.
Cover by Mark Bagley.
The points raised by Newton, as well as the ongoing dicussion of a multiracial Spider-Man on various internet blogs, fan sites, and online media outlets, brings to light the importance of maintaining a collection such as Amistad's -- one that reflects how society views not only its various members and communities, but ultimately how it views itself. Time will tell how the public will respond to the new Spider-Man, but the Center will collect the new Spider-Man issues as they become available so that fans, scholars, and the general public can judge for themselves the exploits of Miles Morales.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Amistad Research Center. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rex Madsen and Jimmy Daniels Photograph Collection

From Harlem and Greenwich Village to Monte Carlo and Paris, nightclub host and cabaret singer Jimmy Daniels made a career of entertaining and performing in some of chicest nightspots on both sides of the Atlantic. Born in Laredo, Texas, in 1908, Daniels grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, before moving to New York City to attend business school. However, he eventually left the office-world to go on stage. After landing a part in Katharine Cornell’s Broadway hit, “Dishonored Lady,” Daniel’s career was launched. He performed in Europe for much of the 1930s, before returning to New York and opening his own nightclub.
Undated photograph of Jimmy Daniels
performing, possibly on a
transatlantic voyage.

Around 1950, Daniels became the host at the Bon Soir on West 8th Street, a chic supper club. Known as a place where African Americans and Whites, as well as gay and straight clientele, interacted without tension, the club was described as having a balance of elegant, intimate, risque, and respectable ambiance. Jimmy Daniels was a popular figure at the Bon Soir for ten years as the host/singer/emcee.

Daniels’ career and his many associations with fellow entertainers, musicians, singers, and society people are documented in the Rex Madsen and Jimmy Daniels Photograph Collection at the Amistad Research Center. Comprised of almost 300 photographs, the collection includes images of Daniels performing and entertaining, as well as a number of inscribed photographs from others to Daniels. Of note are over 50 photographs by Carl Van Vechten of leading African American entertainers and figures, such as Edna Thomas, Harry Belafonte, Joe Louis, Bricktop, Billie Dee Williams, Diana Sands, Pearl Bailey, and others.

Jimmy Daniels with writer and film
director Kenneth MacPherson and
actress Blanche Dunn. 
The finding aid for the Madsen-Daniels collection is now online and provides an item-level description of each photograph in the collection. In addition, a sampling of the photographs have been digitized in order to share a bit of the glamour and style that was the life of Jimmy Daniels. These images can be found via the online finding aid.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the Rex Madsen and Jimmy Daniels Photograph Collection. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Amistad Celebrates 100 Archival Collections!

In December 2009, the staff of the Amistad Research Center unveiled a new online finding aid database, which has brought unparalleled access to the Center’s unique archival holdings. Beginning with core research collections, such as the American Missionary Association archives, the papers of civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer, the papers of Harlem Renaissance figures such as Countee Cullen and Richmond Barthe, as well as historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall and New Orleans mayor Ernest “Dutch” Morial, the database has continued to grow.

Pages from the life reminiscences of
teacher and missionary Esther W.
Douglass regarding her work in
McLeansville, North Carolina, in 1880.
With the help of students and volunteers, the Center’s staff reached the milestone of 100 online collection inventories when the finding aid for a collection of letters and a diary written by American Missionary Association teacher and missionary Esther W. Douglass went live recently. In addition to the archival finding aids listed in the database, over 500 accession records for various donations given to the Center since its founding in 1966 are also available to a global audience of researchers, students, teachers, and media.

Amistad would like to thank the many individuals who have assisted with this project over the course of the last 18 months. As a commitment toward greater access to its collections, the Center endeavors to continue to add more collections to the database. Look for a couple major announcements regarding new online finding aids in the next few days...

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Esther W. Douglass Papers. Image may not be reproduced without permission.)