Friday, October 28, 2011

Yes Ma'am documentary at Prytania Theater

The Prytania Theater in New Orleans is featuring a limited-run screening of the documentary Yes Ma'am: Household Domestic Workers in New Orleans beginning today. Directed by Gary Goldman, the 1982 documentary was sponsored by the Amistad Research Center,which houses the raw footage and interviews conducted for the film as part of the Yes Ma'am Collection. The film provides an in-depth look at the profession of domestic service, race relations, injustice, and the importance of religion in the lives of domestic workers. The old order is contrasted with the new, in which the more militant members of the profession formed the Household Technicians of Louisiana union.

The film continues to be shown in the New Orleans area following the popularity of The Help, the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name.

Posted by Christopher Harter

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mahalia Jackson Centennial

This week marks the hundred-year anniversary of the birth of New Orleans-born gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, born in the city's Black Pearl neighborhood.

Mahalia Jackson at Los Angeles train station for departure on return trip to Chicago (July 1957)
The Amistad Research Center offers an array of primary source materials providing insights into Mahalia's life and music career, most notably in the papers of Elliot Von Joseph Beal

Note on verso from Lourraine Goreau, Mahalia's biographer:   "Mahalia living it up at Marymount College (on fruit punch).  Occasion: Doctorate of Music (Hon.) June 1971"

Beal, a music educator who worked with the Orleans Parish School System and the New Orleans Recreation Department, also worked around town with various community choruses and churches.  Beal also played and toured with Mahalia Jackson as his schedule allowed, typically in the summer months, and collected ephemera and photographs reflect Beal and Jackson's careers in music.  Further information on Mahalia Jackson materials at the Amistad Research Center can be found by searching the Center's finding aid database.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

(Images from the papers of Elliot Von Joseph Beal.  May not be reproduced without permission.)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Finding Aid for Robert Elijah Jones Papers now online

Robert E. Jones and his
second wife, Harriet
Elizabeth, undated.
The archival staff at the Amistad Research Center is diligently working to increase access to the more than 700 archives and manuscripts collection by entering legacy finding aids, accession records, and biographical and historical sketches into the Center’s collection management database. As we continue to work with these legacy collections, we are re-discovering some of the Center’s most significant collections documenting the life experiences and history of ethnic and racial communities in the United States. The Robert E. Jones Papers are just such a treasure.

Robert Elijah Jones (1872-1960), an African American Methodist Episcopalian clergyman, was the editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate for 16 years, a general superintendent for the Methodist Episcopal Church in New Orleans, and the founder of the Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Mississippi. Jones dedicated his career to religion, the racial unification of the Methodist Episcopal Church, racial equality, community development, and education. Jones worked as the editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate between 1904 and 1920. In 1920, Jones became the first African American general superintendent for the Methodist Episcopal Church, where he lived and worked in New Orleans, Louisiana. In 1923, Jones founded Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Mississippi, which was the first recreational area along the Gulf Coast that was accessible to African Americans.

Brooks Chapel, Gulfside Assembly,
Waveland, Mississippi.
The Robert Elijah Jones papers document the career of Jones, an African American Methodist Episcopalian clergyman, who committed his life to religion, racial equality, education, and community development through his work as the editor of the Southwestern Christian Advocate, a general superintendent of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the South, and the founder of Gulfside Assembly in Waveland, Mississippi. The papers encompass 4.05 linear feet of correspondence, clerical and educational documents, notes, sermons, speeches, writings, receipts, photographs, and collected items. The main strengths are the contents of the correspondence, collected writings, and sermons. These materials capture his life as an editor and preacher, while communicating his lifelong commitment to civil justice. The papers do not adequately document his dominant role played in the Dryades Street Branch of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), his involvement with the Flint-Goodridge Hospital in New Orleans, and his participation with the first Negro Business League.

The papers include 234 items of correspondence, 202 items of incoming and 32 of outgoing, organized topically by family, general correspondence, condolences, "Black Mammy," employment, Gulfside, Harry Hosier, and Valena C. Jones. The general correspondence is organized chronologically, while the other categories are arranged by subject. The major subjects include African America education, the Methodist Episcopal Church, Harry Hoosier, and the Gulfside Assembly. Of particular note is the correspondence related to Jones' interest in the persona of the "Black Mammy." Through correspondence, Jones collected stories and questionnaires from various white people about their interactions with and relationships to their African American domestic nurses, commonly known by the archetype term "Black Mammy," Of note among the respondents was author William Faulkner. Other notable correspondents in the collection include George Washington Cable, Jonathan Daniels, Rivers Frederick, Edwin Holt Hughes, Grace C. Jones, Valena C. Jones, Willis King, Benjamin Quarles, A. Philip Randolph, Emmet Jay Scott, William Howard Taft, Booker T. Washington, and Harold J. Zeringer.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the Robert Elijah Jones Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Digital Images from Civil Rights Print Culture Exhibition

The online checklist for Amistad's current exhibition "The Revolution Will Not Be...": Print Culture of the Civil Rights Movement now has linked images to selected materials in the exhibition.

In addition, the exhibition has already received some attention thanks to reporter Alicia Duplessis Jasmin.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Exhibition: Print Culture of the Civil Rights Movement

Flyer for a 1956 civil rights
rally at New York's Madison
Square Garden.
Now through December 22, the Amistad Research Center is featuring an exhibition entitled "The Revolution Will Not Be...": Print Culture of the Civil Rights Movement. The title of the exhibition is derived from poet-musician Gil Scott-Heron's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and hightlights the newspapers, posters, broadsides, pamphlets, and other printed ephemera produced by student groups, leading civil rights organizations, and individuals that documented a revolutionary era.

The Civil Rights Movement coincided with rapid changes in a variety of news and communications media, and the expansion of television and documentary filmmaking brought images of the struggles of African Americans and those who supported civil rights into the homes of the American populace. However, control of the tone and content of electronic media was not always in the hands of those who were being documented. It was the democratization of various printed media that allowed civil rights leaders, workers, and organizations to circulate their combined, and sometimes contradictory, voices.

The online checklist for the exhibition will soon feature links to digital images of seleted items from the exhibition and the Center is working to expand this exhibition into an online digital resource, which will include materials currently on display as well as additional items from a number of archival collections housed at the Center. Meanwhile, please visit the Center to view the current exhibition or stay tuned for more information once the digital links are available.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Eric Steele Wells Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)