Diane Isaacs Collection consists of black memorabilia and historical objects collected by Diane Scharfeld Isaacs. The collection documents images of African Americans in popular and mass culture, and African American life of the late 19th and early 20th century. Frequently made up of racist depictions of African Americans in household service roles, the collection documents the caricature portrayal of African Americans in nineteenth and twentieth century American popular culture. These collections, offensive to many contemporary and modern viewers, are important for understanding the display and use of race as iconography in American pop culture.
Related archival collection: Diane Isaacs Collection of Black Memorabilia, which dates from 1800 to 2002 and measures 14.75 linear feet, documents two centuries of the depictions of African Americans in popular culture. The collection is comprised of papers, journals, books, audio visual materials, Sheet music, correspondence, photographs, and artifacts. Included in the audiovisual series are recordings of Maya Angelou and Alice Walker reading their works. Contact the Archivist for more information.
Diane Isaacs was a professor of English and a collector of black memorabilia. She earned her Ph.D. from Teachers College at Columbia University in 1982 after she wrote a doctoral thesis entitled “Ann Petry’s Life and Art: Piercing the Stereotypes.” As a professor at Fordham College, the University of Maryland, and the University of Minnesota, Isaacs taught English courses throughout the 1980s and 1990s. She was a scholar of the Harlem Renaissance and published essays and articles pertaining to the contributions that African-American writers made to U.S. culture.
Isaacs married Professor Jay Leon Halio, another professor of English at the University of Delaware, on May 26, 2002 at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.
African American history
African American teachers
African Americans in popular culture
Blacks in popular culture
Collectors and collecting
Stereotypes (Social psychology)
Stereotypes (Social psychology) in advertising
Permanent Collection, Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum