Friday, June 29, 2012

Recent Archon Additions: Frederick Douglass Miscellany

Staff at the Amistad Research Center have ramped up their efforts to make finding aids available online to facilitate global research access to our vast manuscripts holdings.  Several recent additions highlighted here involve the great abolitionist, author, and orator Frederick Douglass.

The Frederick Douglass letters represent a small collection of Douglass' correspondence written in his later years.  In one eight-page letter Douglass wrote while traveling in Paris in 1886 to "friends Hayden and Watson," he offers his views on topics ranging from Alexander Dumas, the several great museums of Paris, and the recent death of President Chester A. Arthur.  He also compares the standards of behavior of French politicians favorably in contrast to their American counterparts: "I saw no one squirting tobacco, smoking, or his feet above the level of his head as is sometimes seen in our National Legislature."

The collection of Paul and Gracia Hardacre includes a 1901 letter from Booker T. Washington, who thanks William B. Hoswell of Chicago for his donation of the dressing gown and smoking cap worn by Frederick Douglass at the Chicago World's Fair to the Tuskegee Institute. This collection also includes an item of personal correspondence from Douglass' daughter, Rosetta Douglass Sprague. The collection also includes a collected autograph from Douglass as well as a photograph of the man.

On a related note is the scrapbook of Joseph E. Roy, which is primarily devoted to his chairmanship at the World's Congress on Africa at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (also known as the Chicago World's Fair). This scrapbook includes several clippings about Douglass' appearance at the Exposition, as well as his address at the 1895 annual meeting of the American Missionary Association.

Finally, the Rae Dalven radio drama script, written in 1952, consists of a short dramatization based on the efforts of Douglass and his daughter, the aforementioned Rosetta, to enter the previously-segregated Seward Seminary in Rochester, New York.

In these collections and more, Frederick Douglass is just one of many great American historical figures who lives on at the Amistad Research Center.

Posted by Andrew Salinas

Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Buying on Vacation

I’ll admit it. I’m a bookstore addict. Whether in New Orleans or on vacation, I can’t seem to stay out of bookstores, preferably those that specialize in used and rare volumes. However, as the staff member who oversees the collection development of the library and periodical collections at the Amistad Research Center, spending hours combing a store’s shelves for titles to add to the Center’s collections can be time well spent (and fun!). Such was the case on a recent trip to Cincinnati, Ohio, to visit family.

Thanks to a day of browsing, the Center expanded its holdings of African American literature with recent and older titles by Ishmael Reed, Maya Angelou, Derek Walcott, Rita Dove, Alice Walker, Sapphire, Nikki Giovanni, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Frank X. Walker. Additional titles include the anthology Until Uhuru: For US Colored Folks, edited by Cincinnati poet Kommon Knowledge, and Paul Alkebulan’s Survival Pending Revolution: The History of the Black Panther Party.

A number of additions to the Center’s Comics and Graphic Novels Collection were also acquired, including a full run of the seven issue, limited edition Truth: Red, White, and Black by Robert Morales and Kyle Baker, which overlays the Tuskegee Experiments on the history of Captain America. Also of interest are superhero/action titles such as Blood Syndicate and Icon, written by Dwayne McDuffie, one of the co-founders of Milestone Media, which was founded in the early 1990s by McDuffie and other African American writers and artists as a way to expand the representation of underrepresented peoples in comics. Joining key reference books on comic art at the Center is Fredrik Stromberg’s Comic Art Propaganda: A Graphic History, which contains a chapter on racial stereotypes in comics.

All in all, a wonderful way to expand the excellent printed holdings at the Amistad Research Center.

Posted by Christopher Harter

Friday, June 8, 2012

Amistad's Art Travels...

Recent efforts on the part of the Amistad Research Center to provide greater access to its fine arts collection is paying rewards as several pieces from our art collection will be traveling over the next few years as part of exhibitions across the country. Each exhibition highlights the historical significance of Africans in the Americas or an established African American artist. Our contributions include works by many well known and lesser known artists, including Hale Woodruff, Jacob Lawrence, William H. Johnson, Jeff Donaldson, and James Phillips. Those interested in viewing some of Amistad's works can do so at the venues and dates below. Please come check them out and support these wonderful exhibitions.

Rising Up: Hale Woodruff's Murals at Talladega College
Includes "Southland" by Hale Woodruff
This touring exhibition will visit venues in Atlanta, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; New York, New York; Washington, D.C.; New Orleans, Louisiana; Hartford, Connecticut; and Birmingham, Alabama, from June 2012-September 2015.

Caribbean: Crossroads of the World
Includes six serigraph prints from Jacob Lawrence's "Toussaint L'Ouverture" series
El Museo del Barrio (New York, NY) June 12, 2012 - January 6, 2013
Studio Museum in Harlem (New York, NY) June 14, 2012 - October 21, 2012

Buried Treasures: Art in African American Museums
Includes works by William H. Johnson, Jeff Donaldson, and James Phillips
DuSable Museum (Chicago, IL) July 14, 2012 - December 31, 2012

Look for more information on this blog as other venues are announced.

Posted by Leiza McKenna