Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Papers of Linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner Donated to Amistad

The Amistad Research Center works closely with potential donors to acquire collections of historical significance, whether they be the papers of individuals and families or the records of organizations and businesses. Sometimes this process of donor cultivation can take years and sometimes donations can come "out of the blue." A recent donation to the Center came unexpectedly from a long-time supporter of the Center and Amistad is proud to announce the acquisition of a small, but significant collection of materials related to linguist and academic Lorenzo Dow Turner.

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890-1972) was an African American academic and linguist who did seminal research on the Gullah language of the Low Country of coastal South Carolina and Georgia. His studies included recordings of Gullah speakers in the 1930s. He taught at Howard University and Fisk University, created the African Studies curriculum at Fisk, served as chair of the African Studies Program at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and co-founded a training program for Peace Corps volunteers going to Africa.

Lorenzo Dow Turner
The Turner papers encompass approximately 4.26 linear feet of papers, photographs, sound recordings, and annotated books, offprints, and periodicals, as well as 6 feet of Turner's recording equipment. The papers consist of correspondence, writings (both by Turner and collected), family records, school records, and printed ephemera. Letters of note include a 1967 letter from William Brewer of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History in which he provides his opinions on John Hope Franklin and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as a 1967 letter from a graduate assistant at Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, Louisiana, discussing "language problems" of her Black students.

Writings include typescripts on Gullah texts and the Sea-Island dialect of South Carolina, writings on African culture, and notebooks and gathered pages with an envelope marked "original of stories and proverbs in the Yoruba." Also present is the text of an address given by Ambassador S.O. Adeba, Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations, at Roosevelt University in April 1966 and a copy of Turner's dissertation on "Anti-Slavery Sentiment in American Literature Prior to 1865." Additional papers include an invitation to a series of lectures given by Turner at Roosevelt University, news clippings, a draft of a Turner's report on his research conducted on a Fulbright Scholarship in 1951, a hand script chart listing the importation of Africans into South Carolina for 1733-1807 by region of origin, and worksheets used for the Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada, compiled by Hans Kurath.

Wire recording and field
notes, circa 1950s
Photographic materials include approximately 100 black and white photographs, circa 1911-1930s, including portraits of Turner, as well as candid images of him, his wife, and unidentified individuals. Also present are a number of books, periodicals, and offprints that contain Turner’s ownership signature and annotations in his hand. Of special significance is the presence of a number of wire recordings and lacquer and metal phonograph records that contain Turner's linquistic field recordings from the 1930s and 1950s. As soon as the sound recordings are inventoried, the Center will pursue funding to digitize and make these materials accessible.

Lorenzo Dow Turner was the subject of a 2007 biography by Margaret Wade-Lewis entitled Lorenzo Dow Turner: Father of Gullah Studies and published by the University of South Carolina Press.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the papers of Lorenzo Dow Turner Papers.  May not be reproduced without permission.)

e-Amistad Reports December 2011 edition now online

The December 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 the recent acquisition of the personal papers of journalist Evelyn Cunningham and linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner, an exciting contest featuring Amistad's collections, and the Center's Annual Fund Campaign and how you can assist the Amistad in preserving its unique collections. Check it out!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I Found It In The Archives Contest


A researcher contacted the Center after discovering
this image at Amistad, which may be the first known
photograph of Pokegama Falls, Minnesota, a town
that was lost when a dam was built in 1901.
 When the staff of the Amistad Research Center receives a letter of thanks from a researcher who is grateful for our help, we are reminded of the “humanness” of our profession. As a way of celebrating the diverse audience of global researchers who use the Center’s collections, the Center is participating in the Society of American Archivists’ (SAA) “I Found It In The Archives” contest. This contest will give YOU!...our constituents…a chance to tell your story of how items that are important to you are being preserved, cataloged, cared for, and made accessible by archivists!

In conjunction with American Archives Month, Amistad is encouraging SAA’s special effort to involve people who have sought out archival collections by engaging them in a fun contest that makes use of online social platforms. "I Found It In The Archives" is a collective effort to reach out to individuals who have found their records, families, heritage, and treasures through Amistad’s collections.

As part of this contest, we are asking our users, friends, and researchers to share their stories of discovery. Amistad’s contest will seek one winner who has used the Center’s collections for scholarly research, class projects, family history research, documentaries, creative writing, or any other outcome. The winner of Amistad’s contest will receive a gift package of Amistad promotional material, including books, posters, and postcards, and be entered into a national competition, culminating in August 2012 when the national winner will attend the SAA Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

The deadline for submission is February 10, 2012. Three semi-finalists will be selected from a panel of judges and their entries will be posted online for public voting. Time is short! Submit your entry today! Rules and an entry form can be found here.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the American Missionary Records. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Center Acquires Papers of Journalist Evelyn Cunningham

During 2011, the acquisition of new collections at the Amistad Research Center has been governed by the Center’s collection development policy and managed by a team approach to donor relations. This year, the Center has been fortunate to acquire a number of collections that further the Center’s collecting strengths, while addressing gaps in its holdings. As we begin to wind down the year, the Center’s staff is pleased to announce the acquisition of the personal papers of Evelyn Cunningham (1916-2010), journalist and aide to Nelson Rockefeller.

Evelyn Cunningham (left) on the
telephone in the press tent at the
1963 March on Washington.
The Evelyn Cunningham Papers (circa 1920-2004) consist of 6.6 linear feet documenting her work as a journalist and activist from Harlem, New York, and complement a small of amount of material donated by Ms. Cunningham in 2003. Her papers cover her colorful career as a columnist for the New York edition of the Pittsburgh Courier, for which she wrote a column titled "The Women" chronicling African American social life in Harlem. Cunningham's activities as a journalist provided her the opportunity to meet African American statesmen, celebrities, socialites and activists.

Her journalism career is documented by typescripts, photocopies, and clippings of her columns, as well as a small amount of correspondence. Of note are two undated letters from Cunningham to an unidentified individual that describe her early days with the Courier, as well as a small exchange (two letters) in 1957 with a reporter in Johannesburg, South Africa. Cunningham's notebooks include one dedicated to coverage of Martin Luther King Jr. and two devoted to the legal proceedings resulting from the Montgomery Bus Boycott.


Cunningham's notebook for her
coverage of legal proceedings regarding
the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1956
The collection also includes materials related to Cunningham's appointment as Special Assistant to New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller and Director of the Women's Unit of the State of New York, as well as her service to Rockefeller while he was Vice President. Cunningham's civic involvement in such organizations as the Apollo Theater Foundation, the Harlem Congregation for Community Improvement, the Louis Armstrong Educational Foundation, the New York Coalition of 100 Black Women, and others is documented through correspondence, photographs, minutes, programs, and reports.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the Evelyn Cunningham Papers. May not be reproduced without permission.)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Reading Room Closed December 8-9

The Center's Reading Room will close at 3:00 pm on Thursday, December 8 in preparation for the Center's Board of Directors meeting the next day. The Reading Room will reopen at 8:30 am on Monday, December 12. Be sure to check the Center's website for our holiday hours.