Skip to main content Smithsonian Institution

Search Results

Collections Search Center
324 documents - page 1 of 17

Duke Ellington Collection

Creator:
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Names:
Duke Ellington Orchestra  Search this
Washingtonians, The.  Search this
Ellington, Mercer Kennedy, 1919-1996 (musician)  Search this
Strayhorn, Billy (William Thomas), 1915-1967  Search this
Collector:
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Musical History  Search this
Extent:
400 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Phonograph records
Papers
Photographic prints
Posters
Sound recordings
Scrapbooks
Music
Clippings
Awards
Audiotapes
Place:
New York (N.Y.) -- 20th century
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Washington (D.C.) -- 20th century
Date:
1903 - 1989
Summary:
The collection documents Duke Ellington's career primarily through orchestrations (scores and parts), music manuscripts, lead sheets, transcriptions, and sheet music. It also includes concert posters, concert programs, television, radio, motion picture and musical theater scripts, business records, correspondence, awards, as well as audiotapes, audiodiscs, photographs, tour itineraries, newspaper clippings, magazines, caricatures, paintings, and scrapbooks.
Scope and Contents:
Dating approximately from the time Duke Ellington permanently moved to New York City in 1923 to the time the material was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution in 1988, the bulk of the material in the Duke Ellington Collection is dated from 1934-1974 and comprises sound recordings, original music manuscripts and published sheet music, hand-written notes, correspondence, business records, photographs, scrapbooks, news clippings, concert programs, posters, pamphlets, books and other ephemera. These materials document Ellington's contributions as composer, musician, orchestra leader, and an ambassador of American music and culture abroad. In addition, the materials paint a picture of the life of a big band maintained for fifty years and open a unique window through which to view an evolving American society.

The approximate four hundred cubic feet of archival materials have been processed and organized into sixteen series arranged by type of material. Several of the series have been divided into subseries allowing additional organization to describe the content of the material. For example, Series 6, Sound Recordings, is divided into four subseries: Radio and Television Interviews, Concert Performances, Studio Dates and Non-Ellington Recordings. Each series has its own scope and content note describing the material and arrangement (for example; Series 10, Magazines and Newspaper Articles, is organized into two groups, foreign and domestic, and arranged chronologically within each group). A container list provides folder titles and box numbers.

The bulk of the material is located in Series 1, Music Manuscripts, and consists of compositions and arrangements by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn and other composers. Series 6, Sound Recordings also provides a record of the performance of many of these compositions. The materials in Series 2, Performances and Programs, Series 3, Business Records, Series 8, Scrapbooks, Series 9, Newspaper Clippings, Series 11, Publicity and Series 12, Posters provide documentation of specific performances by Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Ellington was a spontaneous and prolific composer as evidenced by music, lyrical thoughts, and themes for extended works and plays captured on letterhead stationery in Series 3, Business Records, in the margin notes of individual books and pamphlets in Series 14, Religious Materials and Series 15, Books, and in the hand-written notes in Series 5, Personal Correspondence and Notes.

During its fifty-year lifespan, Duke Ellington and His Orchestra were billed under various names including The Washingtonians, The Harlem Footwarmers and The Jungle Band. The soloists were informally called "the band", and Series 3 includes salary statements, IOU's, receipts and ephemera relating to individual band members. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains the soloists' parts and includes "band books" of several soloists (for example; Harry Carney and Johnny Hodges) and numerous music manuscripts of Billy Strayhorn. The changing role of Strayhorn from arranger hired in 1938 to Ellington's main collaborator and composer of many well-known titles for Duke Ellington and His Orchestra including "Take The A' Train" and "Satin Doll" can be traced in these music manuscripts. Series 7, Photographs and Series 2, Performances and Programs contain many images of the band members and Strayhorn. This Collection also documents the business history of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 3, Business Records contains correspondence on letterhead stationery and Series 11, Publicity contains promotional material from the various booking agencies, professional companies, and public relations firms that managed the Orchestra.

The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection provide insight into public and institutional attitudes towards African Americans in mid-twentieth-century America. The business records in Series 3 beginning in 1938 and published sheet music in Series 1 depict Duke Ellington's progression from an African-American musician who needed "legitimization" by a white publisher, Irving Mills, to a businessmen who established his own companies including Tempo Music and Duke Ellington, Incorporated to control his copyright and financial affairs. Programs from the segregated Cotton Club in Series 2, Performances And Programs and contracts with no-segregation clauses in Series 3: Business Records further illustrate racial policies and practices in this time period. The public shift in perception of Duke Ellington from a leader of an exotic "Jungle Band" in the 1930s to a recipient of the Congressional Medal Of Freedom in 1970 is evidenced in Series 2, Performances And Programs, Series 12, Posters, Series 7, Photographs and Series 13, Awards. Reviews and articles reflecting Ellington's evolving status are also documented in Series 8, Newspaper Clippings, Series 9, Scrapbooks, Series 10, Newspaper and Magazine Articles.

The materials in the Duke Ellington Collection reflect rapid technological changes in American society from 1923-1982. Sound recordings in Series 6 range from 78 phonograph records of three minutes duration manufactured for play on Victrolas in monaural sound to long-playing (LP) phonograph records produced for stereo record players. Television scripts in Series 4, programs in Series 2 and music manuscripts (for example, Drum Is A Woman) in Series 1 demonstrate how the development of television as a means of mass communication spread the Orchestra's sound to a wider audience. The availability of commercial air travel enabled the Ellington Orchestra to extend their international performances from Europe to other continents including tours to Asia, Africa, South America and Australia and archival material from these tours is included in every series.

Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts and Series 6, Audio Recordings contain scripts and radio performances promoting the sale of United States War bonds during World War II, and Series 7, Photographs includes many images of Duke Ellington and His Orchestra's performances for military personnel revealing the impact of historic events on Duke Ellington and His Orchestra. Series 2: Programs and Performances, Series 9, Newspaper clippings and Series 8, Scrapbooks document the 1963 Far East tour aborted as a result of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

The Duke Ellington Collection contains works by numerous twentieth-century music, literature, and art luminaries. Series 1, Music Manuscripts contains original music manuscripts of William Grant Still, Eubie Blake, Mary Lou Williams, and others. Series 4, Scripts and Transcripts contains a play by Langston Hughes, and Series 12, Posters contains many original artworks.
Arrangement:
Series 1: Music Manuscripts, circa 1930-1981, undated

Series 2: Performances and Programs, 1933-1973, undated

Series 3: Business Records, 1938-1988

Series 4: Scripts and Transcripts, 1937-1970

Series 5: Personal Correspondence and Notes, 1941-1974, undated

Series 6: Sound Recordings, 1927-1974

Series 7: Photographs, 1924-1972, undated

Series 8: Scrapbooks, 1931-1973

Series 9: Newspaper Clippings, 1939-1973, undated

Series 10: Magazine Articles and Newspaper Clippings, 1940-1974

Series 11: Publicity, 1935-1988

Series 12: Posters and Oversize Graphics, 1933-1989, undated

Series 13: Awards, 1939-1982

Series 14: Religious Material, 1928-1974

Series 15: Books, 1903-1980

Series 16: Miscellaneous, 1940-1974
Biographical / Historical:
A native of Washington, DC, Edward Kennedy Ellington was born on April 29, 1899. Edward was raised in a middle-class home in the Northwest section of Washington described by his sister Ruth--younger by sixteen years--as a "house full of love." Ellington himself wrote that his father J.E. (James Edward) raised his family "as though he were a millionaire" but Edward was especially devoted to his mother, Daisy Kennedy Ellington. In 1969, thirty-four years after his mother's death, Ellington accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom with these words, "There is nowhere else I would rather be tonight but in my mother's arms." Both his parents played the piano and Ellington began piano lessons at the age of seven, but like many boys he was easily distracted by baseball.

In his early teens, Ellington sneaked into Washington clubs and performance halls where he was exposed to ragtime musicians, including James P. Johnson, and where he met people from all walks of life. He returned in earnest to his piano studies, and at age fourteen wrote his first composition, "Soda Fountain Rag" also known as "Poodle Dog Rag." Ellington was earning income from playing music at seventeen years of age, and around this time he earned the sobriquet "Duke" for his sartorial splendor and regal air. On July 2, 1918, he married a high school sweetheart, Edna Thompson; their only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, was born on March 11, 1919. Duke Ellington spent the first twenty-four years of his life in Washington's culturally thriving Negro community. In this vibrant atmosphere he was inspired to be a composer and learned to take pride in his African-American heritage.

Ellington moved to New York City in 1923 to join and eventually lead a small group of transplanted Washington musicians called "The Washingtonians," which included future Ellington band members, Sonny Greer, Otto Hardwicke and "Bubber" Miley. Between 1923 and 1927, the group played at the Club Kentucky on Broadway and the ensemble increased from a quintet to a ten-piece orchestra. With stride pianist Willie "The Lion" Smith as his unofficial guide, Ellington soon became part of New York's music scene; Smith proved to be a long-lasting influence on Duke's composing and arranging direction. At the Club Kentucky, Ellington came under the tutelage of another legendary stride pianist, "Fats" Waller. Waller, a protege of Johnson and Smith, played solos during the band's breaks and also tutored Ellington who began to show progress in his compositions. In November 1924, Duke made his publishing and recording debut with "Choo Choo (I Got To Hurry Home)" released on the Blu-Disc label. In 1925, he contributed two songs to Chocolate Kiddies, an all-black revue which introduced European audiences to black American styles and performers. By this time Ellington's family, Edna and Mercer, had joined him in New York City. The couple separated in the late 1920's, but they never divorced or reconciled.

Ellington's achievements as a composer and bandleader began to attract national attention while he worked at the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, from 1927 to 1932. The orchestra developed a distinctive sound that displayed the non-traditional voicings of Ellington's arrangements and featured the unique talents of the individual soloists. Ellington integrated his soloists' exotic-sounding trombone growls and wah-wahs, their high-squealed trumpets, their sultry saxophone blues licks and Harlem's street rhythms into his arrangements. In the promotional material of the Cotton Club, the band was often billed as "Duke Ellington and His Jungle Band." With the success of compositions like "Mood Indigo," and an increasing number of recordings and national radio broadcasts from the Cotton Club, the band's reputation soared.

The ten years from 1932 to 1942 are considered by some major critics to represent the "golden age" for the Ellington Orchestra, but it represents just one of their creative peaks. These years did bring an influx of extraordinary new talent to the band including Jimmy Blanton on double bass, Ben Webster on tenor saxophone, and Ray Nance on trumpet, violin and vocals. During this ten year span Ellington composed several of his best known short works, including "Concerto For Cootie," "Ko-Ko," "Cotton Tail," "In A Sentimental Mood," and Jump For Joy, his first full-length musical stage revue.

Most notably, 1938 marked the arrival of Billy Strayhorn. While a teenager in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Strayhorn had already written "Lush Life," "Something To Live For" and a musical, Fantastic Rhythm. Ellington was initially impressed with Strayhorn's lyrics but realized long before Billy's composition "Take the A' Train" became the band's theme song in 1942 that Strayhorn's talents were not limited to penning clever lyrics. By 1942, "Swee' Pea" had become arranger, composer, second pianist, collaborator, and as Duke described him, "my right arm, my left arm, all the eyes in the back of my head, my brain waves in his head, and his in mine." Many Ellington/Strayhorn songs have entered the jazz canon, and their extended works are still being discovered and studied today. Strayhorn remained with the Ellington Organization until his death on May 30, 1967.

Ellington had often hinted of a work in progress depicting the struggle of blacks in America. The original script, Boola, debuted in Carnegie Hall in November of 1943, retitled Black, Brown and Beige. The performance met with mixed reviews, and although Ellington often returned to Carnegie Hall the piece was never recorded in a studio, and after 1944 was never performed in entirety again by the Ellington Orchestra. Nonetheless, it is now considered a milestone in jazz composition.

After World War II the mood and musical tastes of the country shifted and hard times befell big bands, but Ellington kept his band together. The band was not always financially self-sufficient and during the lean times Ellington used his songwriting royalties to meet the soloists' salaries. One could assign to Ellington the altruistic motive of loyalty to his sidemen, but another motivation may have been his compositional style which was rooted in hearing his music in the formative stage come alive in rehearsal. "The band was his instrument," Billy Strayhorn said, and no Ellington composition was complete until he heard the orchestra play it. Then he could fine tune his compositions, omit and augment passages, or weave a soloist's contribution into the structure of the tune.

In 1956, the American public rediscovered Duke and the band at the Newport Jazz Festival in Rhode Island. The searing performances of tenor saxophonist Paul Gonsalves on "Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue," his premiere soloist, alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges on "Jeep's Blues", and the crowd's ecstatic reaction have become jazz legend. Later that year Duke landed on the cover of Time magazine. Although Ellington had previously written music for film and television (including the short film, Black and Tan Fantasy in 1929) it wasn't until 1959 that Otto Preminger asked him to score music for his mainstream film, Anatomy of a Murder, starring Jimmy Stewart. Paris Blues in 1961, featuring box-office stars Paul Newman and Sidney Poitier in roles as American jazz musicians in Paris, followed.

Ellington's first performance overseas was in England in 1933, but the 1960s brought extensive overseas tours including diplomatic tours sponsored by the State Department. Ellington and Strayhorn composed exquisite extended works reflecting the sights and sounds of their travels, including the Far East Suite, 1966. They wrote homages to their classical influences; in 1963, they adapted Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite and celebrated Shakespeare's works with the suite Such Sweet Thunder in 1957. With Ella Fitzgerald, they continued the Norman Granz Songbook Series. Ellington also began to flex his considerable pianist skills and recorded albums with John Coltrane (1963), Coleman Hawkins (1963), Frank Sinatra, and Money Jungle (1963) with Charles Mingus and Max Roach. The First Sacred Concert debuted in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral in 1965. In his final years, Ellington's thoughts turned to spiritual themes and he added a Second (1968) and Third (1973) Concert of Sacred Music to his compositions.

In his lifetime, Duke received numerous awards and honors including the highest honor bestowed on an American civilian, the Congressional Medal Of Freedom. In 1965, Ellington was recommended for a Pulitzer Prize to honor his forty years of contribution to music but the recommendation was rejected by the board. Most likely he was disappointed, but his response at the age of sixty-six was, "Fate is being kind to me. Fate doesn't want me to be famous too young."

Ellington never rested on his laurels or stopped composing. Whenever he was asked to name his favorite compositions his characteristic reply was "the next five coming up," but to please his loyal fans Ellington always featured some of his standards in every performance. Even on his deathbed, he was composing the opera buffo called Queenie Pie.

Duke Ellington died on May 24, 1974 at seventy-five years of age. His funeral was held in New York's Cathedral of St. John The Divine; he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. His long-time companion Beatrice "Evie" Ellis was buried beside him after her death in 1976. He was survived by his only child, Mercer Kennedy Ellington, who not only took up the baton to lead the Duke Ellington Orchestra but assumed the task of caring for his father's papers and his legacy to the nation. Mercer Ellington died in Copenhagan, Denmark on February 8, 1996, at the age of seventy-six. Ruth Ellington Boatwright died in New York on March 6, 2004, at the age of eighty-eight. Both Mercer and Ruth were responsible for shepherding the documents and artifacts that celebrate Duke Ellington's genius and creative life to their current home in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.
Related Materials:
Materials in the Archives Center

William H. Quealy Collection of Duke Ellington Recordings (AC0296)

Rutgers University Collection of Radio Interviews about Duke Ellington (AC0328)

Duke Ellington Oral History Project (AC0368)

Duke Ellington Collection of Ephemera and realated Audiovisual Materials (AC0386)

Annual International Conference of the Duke Ellington Study Group Proceedings (AC0385)

Robert Udkoff Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0388)

Frank Driggs Collection of Duke Ellington Photographic Prints (AC0389)

New York Chapter of the Duke Ellington Society Collection (AC390)

Earl Okin Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0391)

William Russo Transcription and Arrangement of Duke Ellington's First Concert of Sacred Music (AC0406)

Ruth Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0415)

Music manuscripts in the Ruth Ellington Collection complement the music manuscripts found in the Duke Ellington Collection.

Carter Harman Collection of Interviews with Duke Ellington (AC0422)

Betty McGettigan Collection of Duke Ellington Memorabilia (AC0494)

Dr. Theodore Shell Collection of Duke Ellington Ephemera (AC0502)

Edward and Gaye Ellington Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0704)

Andrew Homzy Collection of Duke Ellington Stock Music Arrangements (AC0740)

John Gensel Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC0763)

Al Celley Collection of Duke Ellington Materials (AC1240)

Materials at Other Organizations

Institute of Jazz Studies
Separated Materials:
Artifacts related to this collection are in the Division of Culture and the Arts (now Division of Cultural and Community Life) and include trophies, plaques, and medals. See accessions: 1989.0369; 1991.0808; 1993.0032; and 1999.0148.

"
Provenance:
The collection was purchased through an appropriation of Congress in 1988.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the original and master audiovisual materials are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Copyright restrictions. Consult the Archives Center at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.

Paul Ellington, executor, is represented by:

Richard J.J. Scarola, Scarola Ellis LLP, 888 Seventh Avenue, 45th Floor, New York, New York 10106. Telephone (212) 757-0007 x 235; Fax (212) 757-0469; email: rjjs@selaw.com; www.selaw.com; www.ourlawfirm.com.
Occupation:
Composers -- 20th century  Search this
Topic:
Big bands  Search this
Pianists  Search this
Bandsmen -- 20th century  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Musicians -- 20th century  Search this
Music -- Performance  Search this
African American entertainers -- 20th century  Search this
African Americans -- History  Search this
Popular music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Music -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
African American musicians  Search this
Genre/Form:
Phonograph records
Papers
Photographic prints
Posters
Sound recordings
Scrapbooks -- 20th century
Music -- Manuscripts
Clippings
Awards
Audiotapes
Citation:
Duke Ellington Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0301
See more items in:
Duke Ellington Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep850a376a1-6b6d-48bc-9076-cffef76fea2c
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0301
Online Media:

Black Manhattan James Weldon Johnson

Author:
Johnson, James Weldon 1871-1938  Search this
Physical description:
284, xxxiv pages illustrations, plans, portraits 21 cm
Type:
Books
Olin Library Black authors
Place:
New York (State)
New York
New York (État)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem
New York- Harlem
Date:
1968
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
Noirs américains  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_25593

The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties exhibition records

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Extent:
10.55 Linear feet (16 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Photographic prints
Exhibition records
Catalogs
Exhibit scripts
Correspondence
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
1985-09 - 1986-12
Summary:
An exhibition on the history and art of the Harlem Renaissance. The exhibition, held at the Anacostia Neighborhood Museum, ran from September 1985-December 1986. These records document the planning, organizing, execution, and promotion of the exhibition. Materials include correspondence, research files, exhibit scripts, administrative records, brochures, press coverage, education packets, loan agreements, floor plans, and catalogues.
Related Archival Materials note:
Audiovisual materials related to this exhibition located in Anacostia Community Museum Archives.
Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
Harlem Renaissance  Search this
Museum exhibits  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographic prints
Exhibition records -- 1967-1989
Catalogs
Exhibit scripts
Correspondence
Citation:
The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties exhibition records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
ACMA.03-024
See more items in:
The Renaissance: Black arts of the Twenties exhibition records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa7cec4e4c6-749d-420c-86a3-25fd0b74ec03
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-acma-03-024

Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection

Performer:
Basie, Count, 1904-1984  Search this
Webster, Ben  Search this
Armstrong, Louis, 1901-1971  Search this
Ellington, Duke, 1899-1974  Search this
Fitzgerald, Ella, 1917-1996  Search this
Goodman, Benny (Benjamin David), 1909-1986  Search this
Jamal, Ahmad, 1930-  Search this
Robinson, Bill, 1878-1949  Search this
Davis, Miles  Search this
Collector:
Smith, Ernie  Search this
Names:
Apollo Theatre (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Extent:
30 Cubic feet (352 film reels , 16 mm)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion pictures (visual works)
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Date:
1894-1979
Summary:
More than 300 reels of 16mm black and white and color film, silent and sound, fiction and documentary motion picture film documenting jazz and related musical performances, social and popular dance styles and performances, jazz musicians, performance locales, and documentation of African-American popular culture. A list of featured performers in the collection is shown below. The films are frequently compilations produced by Smith for lectures.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of 352 reels of 16mm motion picture film. Most of the film is 16mm black and white and sound (composite optical track print), although a few titles are silent or in color. The collection is comprised of compilation reels created by Ernie Smith to accompany his lectures, topical compilation reels created by Ernie Smith, compilation reels created by the Archives Center, and single title reels. The Archives Center produced master and reference video copies using a wet-gate telecine film-to-tape transfer system. Titles were often combined to allow for increased ease of handling, storage, and duplication.

The collection is strongest in the areas of jazz dance styles including Lindy Hop and tap, overviews of jazz musical performers and styles; specific jazz musicians and performers including Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, Bob Crosby, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Jack Teagarden as well as a wide range of female vocalists; and documentation of the New York jazz and club scene. The collection includes feature films and excerpts from feature films, Soundies and other film shorts, television kinescopes, and documentary films.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into one series and is not arranged in accordance with standard archival procedures. The breadth of the collection and the existence of so many multiple topic and/or performer compilation reels made it impossible to impose traditional archival series order. Therefore, each reel is described at the item level in the container list.
Biographical:
Ernest (Ernie) Smith began collecting jazz and jazz dance films during the mid-1950s. An Art Director for a New York advertising agency, Smith had a long-standing interest in jazz and jazz dance that began during his youth in Pittsburgh, Pa. Early on, Smith discovered that jazz music was best appreciated while dancing. He became an accomplished Lindy Hopper, frequenting both white and African American ballrooms.

His job at the advertising agency supported Smith's two passions - painting and jazz dance and music. Smith was also a film enthusiast so, in 1954, after taking a jazz class at the New School taught by Marshall Stearns, a leading jazz scholar, he began collecting examples of jazz and jazz dance on film. In the process of creating his film collection, Smith became one of the leading authorities on jazz and jazz dance films. He collaborated with Stearns on the 1964 book Jazz Dance, compiling the book's jazz dance film listing. He also wrote the extensive entry on jazz film for the 1988 edition of New Grove Dictionary of Jazz .

Smith built his film collection by identifying films of potential interest and acquiring them through trade and purchase. He created lecture reels on specific topics -- the history of jazz, social dance, tap dance, Duke Ellington, Lindy Hop -- and presented lecture/screenings nationally and internationally. He also provided footage for numerous documentaries and maintained active relationships with filmmakers, other film collectors, jazz scholars, the swing dance community, and musicians.

Ernie Smith donated his film collection to the Archives Center in 1993. He continues to lecture and participate in swing dance activities, but he devotes the majority of his time to painting and related artistic pursuits.
Provenance:
The Archives Center acquired the collection from Ernie Smith in 1993.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research but the films are stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Contact the Archives Center for information at archivescenter@si.edu or 202-633-3270.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Tap dancing -- 1930-1970  Search this
Motion pictures and music -- 1930-1970  Search this
Dancing in motion pictures, television, etc. -- 1930-1970  Search this
Television and music -- 1930-1970  Search this
Jazz -- 20th century -- United States  Search this
Jazz musicians -- 1930-1970  Search this
Jazz dance -- 1930-1970  Search this
African Americans in the performing arts -- 1930-1970  Search this
Genre/Form:
Motion pictures (visual works) -- 20th century
Citation:
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0491
See more items in:
Ernie Smith Jazz Film Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep85baeb0e0-8e94-4ce0-8c80-7f25800ee24a
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0491

The amen corner a play by James Baldwin

Author:
Baldwin, James 1924-1987  Search this
Physical description:
xvii, 91 pages 24 cm
Type:
Drama
Domestic drama
scripts (documents)
Plays (performed works)
Playbills
Advance copies (Publishing)
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
New York (State)
New York
Harlem
Date:
1968
20th century
20e siècle
Topic:
American drama--African American authors  Search this
African American churches  Search this
African American families  Search this
American drama  Search this
Théâtre américain--Auteurs noirs américains  Search this
Théâtre américain  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_526332

Go tell it on the mountain James Baldwin

Author:
Baldwin, James 1924-1987  Search this
Physical description:
253 pages 22 cm
Type:
Fiction
Romans, nouvelles, etc
Bildungsromans
Place:
United States
États-Unis
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
New York (State)
New York
Harlem
Date:
1963
20th century
20e siècle
Topic:
African American men  Search this
Fathers and sons  Search this
African American families  Search this
African Americans--Religion  Search this
Racism  Search this
African Americans--Social conditions  Search this
American fiction  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Hommes noirs américains  Search this
Pères et fils  Search this
Familles noires américaines  Search this
Noirs américains--Religion  Search this
Racisme  Search this
Noirs américains--Conditions sociales  Search this
Roman américain  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_526954

Just above my head James Baldwin

Author:
Baldwin, James 1924-1987  Search this
Physical description:
597 pages 24 cm
Type:
Fiction
Romans, nouvelles, etc
Fictional Work
Novels
Dust jackets (Binding)
Romans
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)
New York
Harlem
Date:
1979
20th century
20e siècle
Topic:
African American men  Search this
African American families  Search this
Gay men  Search this
Brothers  Search this
Brothers--Death  Search this
Gospel musicians  Search this
African Americans--Social conditions  Search this
Racism  Search this
Racism against Black people  Search this
Homophobia  Search this
American fiction  Search this
American fiction--African American authors  Search this
Hommes noirs américains  Search this
Familles noires américaines  Search this
Homosexuels masculins  Search this
Frères  Search this
Frères--Mort  Search this
Musiciens gospel  Search this
Noirs américains--Conditions sociales  Search this
Racisme  Search this
Roman américain  Search this
Roman américain--Auteurs noirs américains  Search this
African American men--Fiction  Search this
Brothers--Fiction  Search this
New York (N.Y.)--Fiction  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_526964

Tell me how long the train's been gone a novel by James Baldwin

Author:
Baldwin, James 1924-1987  Search this
Subject:
Elias, Norbert (Soziologe)  Search this
Physical description:
484 pages 22 cm
Type:
Fiction
Romans, nouvelles, etc
Novels
Dust jackets (Binding)
Romans
Place:
New York (State)
New York
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem
Date:
1968
20th century
Topic:
African American actors  Search this
Heart--Diseases--Patients  Search this
Successful people  Search this
American fiction  Search this
Acteurs noirs américains  Search this
Cardiaques  Search this
Gagneurs  Search this
Subjekt  Search this
African Americans  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_526974

We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records

Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Names:
New York City Housing Authority  Search this
Extent:
4 Linear feet (2 boxes; 4 linear ft., 3.58 GB)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Interviews
Photographs
Digital audio formats
Digital images
Oral histories (document genres)
Place:
Bronx Park (New York)
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Staten Island (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
2009-2011
Summary:
An exhibition exploring the varied stigmas and stereotypes applied to New York City's Housing Authority sites and the residents (past and present) who live in them. Journalist Rico Washington and photographer Shino Yanagawa collaborated on this exhibit which offers an in-depth look at how New York City public housing has impacted society-at-large by producing some of the world's most influential and dynamic artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, politicians, and thinkers. It was exhibited at the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal, 2010, at the Gordon Parks Gallery at the College of New Rochelle (NY), 2013, and the Brooklyn Historical Society from 2014-2015.
Scope and Contents:
An exhibition exploring the varied stigmas and stereotypes applied to New York City's Housing Authority sites and the residents (past and present) who live in them. Journalist Rico Washington and photographer Shino Yanagawa collaborated on this exhibit which offers an in-depth look at how New York City public housing has impacted society-at-large by producing some of the world's most influential and dynamic artists, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians, politicians, and thinkers. It was exhibited at the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal, 2010, at the Gordon Parks Gallery at the College of New Rochelle (NY), 2013, and the Brooklyn Historical Society from 2014-2015.

Materials date from 2009-2011 and include photographic prints, over fifty audio interviews, digital images, a digital video commercial for the exhibition, a photocopy of a letter from Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Honorable Sonia Sotomayor to the curators pertaining to the exhibition. Brochures, postcards, and copies of newspaper articles and journals featuring the exhibition are also present.
Biographical / Historical:
Washington, D.C. native Rico Washington holds a BA from Fordham University's African & African-American Studies program. As a journalist who has interviewed celebrities such as Erykah Badu, his work has appeared in New York Moves, Upscale, Wax Poetics, Ebony.com, and Okayplayer.com. He has also served as music editor for Brooklynbased Free Magazine and staff writer/columnist at XLR8R magazine. Rico is also a teaching artist with the non-profit arts organization Arts Connection. He lives and works in New York City.

Shino Yanagawa holds a BA in Economics from Japan's Hoesi University, A Tokyo native she has been a professional photographer for more than a decade. Yanagawa has photographed an array of musicians including Q-Tip. In addition to being a regular contributor to Japanese newspapers Nikkei and Sankei, her works have also appeared in publications such as GQ-Japan, Harper's Bazaar-Japan, and Blue Note-Japan. She lives and works in New York City.
Provenance:
Donated by Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa in 2017.
Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Public housing  Search this
Exhibitions  Search this
Gentrification  Search this
Genre/Form:
Interviews -- 21st century
Photographs -- Color photoprints -- 21st century
Digital audio formats
Digital images
Oral histories (document genres)
Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa73ac716ac-b539-4ce3-b439-9bb0e6b65c68
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-acma-06-103
Online Media:

Interviews

Collection Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Place:
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Bronx (New York, N.Y.)
Queens (New York, N.Y.)
Staten Island (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
2009-2011
Scope and Contents:
Includes interviews conducted by Rico Washington with former and current residents of public housing in New York City. The series consist of audio digital files and transcripts which are arranged alphabetically by interviewee.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103, Series I
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa790e0304e-27ad-4acd-8fd1-cca9421845dc
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-103-ref1

Interview with Anahad O'Connor

Collection Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
2010 March 27
Scope and Contents:
Anahad O'Connor is a Harlem resident who spoke about his experience going from the projects to being a Yale educated New York Times employee. O'Connor elaborates on the negatives and positives of life in the projects, along with how people from wealth perceive the projects. He also speaks about how he pulled himself out of the projects through after school programs and education.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Genre/Form:
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews -- 21st century
Collection Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103, Item acma_06-103-Anahad
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records / Series I: Interviews
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa790e1315f-27d2-4369-ba1a-e78223daa0b3
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-103-ref3

Interview with Queen Mother

Collection Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
2010 July 8
Scope and Contents:
Queen Mother is the community mayor for Harlem and an advocate. Queen mother advocated for better treatment of residents both on a local and global scale. She explains about the imporatance of including the youth in fights that will affect them going forward. Quuen mother desribes her role in crafting a better future for those in Harlem.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Genre/Form:
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews -- 21st century
Collection Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103, Item acma_06-103-QueenMother
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records / Series I: Interviews
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa74d16c3c2-964a-4a67-b4b4-b15bf5736f19
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-103-ref34

Interview with Sandra Hernandez

Collection Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
2010, April 4
Scope and Contents:
Sandra Hernandez is a resident of the James Weldon Johnson housing project in Harlem, New York. She talks about the benefits diversity brings to a neighborhood and how demographics have shifted since she was a child. Hernandez explains the effects gentrification has had on Harlem.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Ethnic diversity  Search this
Gentrification  Search this
Genre/Form:
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews -- 21st century
Collection Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103, Item acma_06-103-SandraHernandez
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records / Series I: Interviews
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa79acb10cc-c583-4c13-9869-82990de91e94
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-103-ref39

Interview with Terry Williams

Collection Creator:
Washington, Rico, Music Journalist  Search this
Yanagawa, Shino (Photographer)  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
undated
Scope and Contents:
Terry Williams is a New York City based author who has had his stories adapted into documetaries. Williams discusses his time in SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee), involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and why that pushed him to move from Mississippi to New York City. He explains the purpose of his books and why he writes them in the style that he does. Williams also delves into the effects of gentrification and the hardships minority youths face.
Collection Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Please contact the archivist to make an appointment: ACMarchives@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Occupation:
Authors -- United States  Search this
Topic:
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (U.S.)  Search this
Civil rights movements  Search this
Gentrification  Search this
Genre/Form:
Oral histories (document genres)
Interviews -- 21st century
Collection Citation:
We the People Project Records, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution, gift of Rico Washington and Shino Yanagawa.
Identifier:
ACMA.06-103, Item acma_06-103-TerryWilliams
See more items in:
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records
We the People: The Citizens of NYCHA in Photos + Words Project Records / Series I: Interviews
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa763aa20b4-f761-43c9-bc4b-0d41350dc28c
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-06-103-ref46

Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection

Names:
Andrade-Watkins, Claire  Search this
Bambara, Toni Cade  Search this
Dash, Julie  Search this
Gerima, Haile  Search this
Greaves, William, 1953-2005  Search this
Gunn, Bill, 1934-1989  Search this
Jafa, Arthur  Search this
Jones, Robert Earl, 1904-2006  Search this
Massiah, Louis  Search this
Micheaux, Oscar, 1884-1951  Search this
Moses, Ethel  Search this
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976  Search this
Sanchez, Sonia, 1934- (poet, reader)  Search this
Snead, James A., 1953-1989  Search this
Spence, Louise, 1945-  Search this
Tucker, Lorenzo  Search this
Donor:
Bowser, Pearl, 1931-  Search this
Extent:
approximately 100 Motion picture films
213 Sound cassettes (7 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Motion picture films
Sound cassettes
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
Vhs (videotape format)
Place:
England
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Roanoke (Va.)
Memphis (Tenn.)
Date:
bulk 1920-2001
Arrangement:
The collection is currently arranged in three (3) archival series as follows:

Series 1: Motion Picture Films Series 2: Video Tapes Series 3: Audio Tapes

Series 1 and 2 are arranged sequentially by museum-assigned object numbers. Digital copies in Series 3 arranged into seven subseries by NMAAHC staff. There is an additional subseries for "unidentified" audiovisual materials.
Biographical / Historical:
Pearl Bowser is a filmmaker, producer, author, lecturer, and highly acclaimed scholar of African American film who is recognized as an authority on the works of Oscar Micheaux, a noted writer, director, and producer of race films from 1919 to 1948.

Born Pearl Johnson on June 25, 1931, in Sugar Hill, Harlem, New York, she was named after her mother (also Pearl Johnson), a domestic worker who had been raised in a Catholic nunnery. On occasional Saturdays, the younger Pearl would accompany her mother to work in apartments in lower Manhattan, where she would assist her by folding handkerchiefs for a small allowance. After moving to a lower part of Harlem when she was about four years old, she met Harlem entrepreneur "Bumpy" Johnson, for whom she and other children in the neighborhood did odd jobs such as counting coins or attending to his ice-cream stand. Johnson, who would sometimes give the children joy rides in his Cadillac, occasionally allowed Pearl and the other children to borrow books from his extensive library, provided that they read them and submitted to a quiz.

As a child, Bowser had several racist encounters. For example, one of her white kindergarten teachers at her elementary school wore gloves in the classroom as to not touch Black pupils. She was also occasionally teased for having a gap between her teeth but felt insulated from sustained bullying because she had several older brothers who sometimes protected her. On a separate occasion, when she was about nine years old, her mother sent her on a trip from New York to the South to visit relatives. Although her mother had purchased tickets for her to be in a Pullman car, when she changed trains in Washington, DC., she was forced to ride in the car behind the engine, which left her covered in soot.

An avid reader, Pearl excelled in elementary and high school and received a scholarship to attend Brooklyn College, where she majored in biology. She supplemented her income by recording the numbers in one of Bumpy Johnson's shops. Disappointed with the quality of the education she was receiving, Bowser withdrew from Brooklyn College, eventually landing a job at CBS where she worked on a team that analyzed Nielsen ratings.

In 1955, Pearl married fellow New Yorker LeRoy Bowser. By the mid-1960s, although Pearl and LeRoy Bowser had separate interests, they both were working simultaneously in the civil rights movement. While LeRoy was active in Brooklyn CORE (Congress of Racial Equality) and went to the South in the summer to teach for what was the beginning of HeadStart, Pearl, along with other production activists, took to the streets documenting African American culture and issues—working to bring these films to schools. Additionally, Bowser wanted to write a cookbook to earn funds for Brooklyn's CORE organization. She was approached by David Davis, the editor of Tuesday Magazine. Tuesday had distribution in the Herald Tribune across the country as a Sunday supplement. As the urban-world magazine exploded in Black communities, "Joan" Bowser's two-page pictorials on Southern cooking with a set of recipes became very popular in the five years she wrote them. Bowser retained copyrights to the articles, and easily completed her cookbook a short time later.

Bowser's colleague at ABC, Charles Hobson, found a used book written by Peter Noble about Black films and Oscar Micheaux. The volume was slim and contained what little information contained in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) files. Hobson and his colleagues wanted to write a book about the topic, and they assigned Bowser to begin the research. As part of the project, Bowser went to California to interview actors who may have been in early Black films or may have worked with Micheaux. What she learned began her intensive scholarship into Micheaux and his fellow filmmakers.

In 1971, she organized her first film festival, the Black Film History Series. In 1979, she organized the nation's first American women's film festival in New York City. She also presented a major retrospective, Independent Black American Cinema 1920-1980, which toured the country during 1981 and 1982. She also directed the Journey Across Three Continents film and lecture series, which toured the country from 1983-1985. Bowser also served as president of the prestigious Flaherty Film Seminar in 1987. In 1989, she, alongside Grant Munro, programmed the 35th Flaherty Film Seminar, which featured films such as Finzan, Zajota and the Boogie Spirit, Daughters of the Dust, and many more. She has also been a judge at the world-renown Pan-African Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESCPACO) in Burkina Faso (formerly known as Upper Volta).

In the 1980s Bowser was awarded an independent artists grant by the Ford Foundation to travel west and collect oral histories from individuals in Oscar Micheaux's orbit, loosely following the route he would have travelled decades earlier. Stopping in cities such as Roanoke, Virginia; Memphis, Tennessee; and Jackson, Mississippi, she collected dozens of oral histories from actors, actresses etc. that knew Oscar Micheaux. Through this research she became an eminent figure in the Black independent film industry. Working as a programmer, she travelled around the United States and the world showing films by domestic and Black filmmakers within the Diaspora.

Despite her wealth of experience working as a programmer, it wasn't until the 1990s that Bowser made her directorial debut with the documentary film Midnight Ramble. Funded by American Experience, the film looks at African Americans and Hollywood movies from 1910 through the 1950s. In 2000, she, along with Louise Spence, co-authored Writing Himself into History: Oscar Micheaux, His Silent Films and His Audiences, a book about the pioneering filmmaker. Additionally, she is founder and director of Chamba Educational Film Services, a film distribution company that specialized in distributing films by African American filmmakers. In the early 1980s, she renamed her company/collection as African Diaspora Images, a collection of historical and contemporary films documenting Black film history. She subsequently joined Third World Newsreel, where she was director of their theater department.

In 2012, Pearl Bowser donated her extensive collection of books, sound cassettes, films, film memorabilia, and papers to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Sources:

1940 United States Federal Census; New York, New York, New York, population schedule, p. 61B, house number 1486, family 195, Pearl Bowser; Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012 accessed: 10 Sept 2022); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm: m-t0627-02665

Bowser, Pearl. Pearl Bowser Oral History. Interview by Tuliza Fleming and Jennifer Lyon, July 21, 2011.
Provenance:
Acquired as a donation from Pearl Bowser in 2012.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Rights:
The NMAAHC Media Preservation team can provide reproductions of some materials for research and educational use. Copyright and right to publicity restrictions apply and limit reproduction for other purposes.
Occupation:
Filmmakers  Search this
Actors -- Interviews  Search this
Topic:
Documentary films  Search this
Film festivals  Search this
African American actors  Search this
African American actresses  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Race films  Search this
African American motion picture producers and directors  Search this
African American women authors  Search this
Meetings  Search this
Conferences  Search this
Lectures and lecturing  Search this
Amateur films  Search this
Motion picture soundtracks  Search this
Oral history  Search this
Radio broadcasts  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sound cassette
Oral histories (document genres)
16mm motion picture film
VHS (videotape format)
Citation:
Pearl Bowser Collection, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Identifier:
NMAAHC.A2012.79.AV
See more items in:
Pearl Bowser Audiovisual Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3209e9c6d-3045-4a0a-941e-6519385b18d5
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-a2012-79-av

Norma Merrick Sklarek Archival Collection

Creator:
Sklarek, Norma Merrick, 1926-2012  Search this
Names:
American Institute of Architects  Search this
Gruen Associates  Search this
Covington, Garnett K.  Search this
Davis, Carolyn Armenta, 1944-  Search this
Diamond, Katherine  Search this
Donaphin, Alexa Barnes  Search this
Grant, Bradford C.  Search this
Gruen, Victor, 1903-1980  Search this
Harney, Henrietta  Search this
Hermanuz, Ghislaine  Search this
Hinton-Lee, W. Chris  Search this
Hutchinson, Louise Daniel  Search this
LeGendre, Laurette  Search this
Love-Stanley, Ivenue  Search this
Mills, Marlene E.  Search this
Moseley-Olaleye, Joyce  Search this
Pelli, Cesar  Search this
Schwartz, Robert (Robert E.)  Search this
Siegel, Margot  Search this
Sklarek, Rolf  Search this
Sutton, Sharon E., 1941-  Search this
Tyler, Kathryn B.  Search this
Washington, Roberta  Search this
Williams, Paul R., 1894-1980  Search this
deJongh, Donna  Search this
Extent:
4.8 Cubic feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Correspondence
Place:
Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Los Angeles (Calif.)
Date:
1944-2008
Scope and Contents:
The Norma Merrick Sklarek Archival Collection documents the prestigious and groundbreaking career of one of the early women architects who also broke ground for African American architects as well. The collection highlights Sklarek's journey and accomplishments as she paved the way for future women architects and architects of color. The collection is comprised of family records, resumes, business ephemera, photographs, correspondence, publications, clippings, architectural drawings, as well as her many awards and accolades.
Arrangement:
The materials in this collection have been separated into eight series. The materials have been ordered and organized based on the content and chronology. Within each series and subseries, the folders are organized as close to the collection's original order as when it was acquired.
Biographical / Historical:
Norma Merrick Sklarek was a renowned architect and a woman of firsts who broke racial and gender barriers earning her place in the male-dominated world of architecture. She was the first Black woman member and esteemed fellow of the highly respected architectural professional organization, American Institute of Architects (AIA). Norma was distinguished in her career for leading challenging assignments and managing large, complex construction projects.

Norma Merrick was born April 15, 1926 to Dr. Walter Ernest Merrick, and Amelia (Amy) Willoughby in Harlem, New York City, New York. Her parents had emigrated from Trinidad, though her father was born in St. Vincent, West Indies. Norma's parents were a part of the first significant Caribbean immigration waves to the United States in the early 20th century. Arriving just a year before her birth, her parents saw possibility and education there. Her father, Walter attended Howard University and eventually became a physician. While her mother, Amy worked as a seamstress in a factory to make ends meet as Walter "wasn't much of a businessman" as described by Norma in an oral history interview. He practiced medicine in Harlem, New York. Norma stated that her father often served as a physician to African American celebrities such as Hazel Scott, Ethel Waters and Art Tatum. Walter was also a talented musician and carpenter that supported his daughter's love of art and math and encouraged her to pursue a career in architecture.

Around 1940, Norma was enrolled at the prestigious Hunter College High School for the intellectually gifted and "Ivy League-bound" young women. Excelling academically, Norma attended Barnard University, the prestigious women's college formerly administered by Columbia University. She attended Barnard initially in order to gain a year of a liberal arts education so that she could be accepted into then-known Columbia University School of Architecture. In 1947, she met and married, Dumas Flagg Ransom, law student at nearby Wagner University. She subsequently gave birth to her first son, Gregory Merrick Ransom shortly thereafter. She graduated from Columbia in 1950 with a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) degree. She was one of only two women and the only African American in her graduating class.

Despite her Columbia University pedigree, her race and gender made it predictably difficult to obtain employment. Norma easily recalls in an oral history interview later in life that she was turned down by nineteen prospective employers. It was on the twentieth interview with the Department of Public Works (DPW) that she was hired as a junior draftsperson for New York City. She passed her architecture licensing examination in 1954 becoming the first Black woman believed to be licensed to practice architecture in New York. Despite a poor recommendation from her DPW supervisor, she worked briefly at Katz, Waisman, Blumenkranz, Stein and Weber as a junior associate. She felt stifled and unchallenged and left that firm to do some rendering coloring work with notable New York architect, Bob Schwartz. In 1955, she started working at notable architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) in New York City where she was given larger-scale projects. At the same time, she taught architecture courses at New York City Community College (presently called the New York City College of Technology) located in Brooklyn, NY. She was the school's first woman faculty member. It was also during her tenure at SOM that Norma joined AIA and inadvertently became the organization's first African American woman member. She was a member of the Council for the Advancement of the Negro in Architecture, a New York-based group. During all this groundbreaking work, Norma was a twice-divorced mother of two sons with the birth of her second son, David Merrick Fairweather from her union with Benjamin Fairweather. Norma depended on the assistance of her family in raising her sons while she worked and advanced her career.

In an effort to advance her career, Norma moved to Los Angeles, California to work with architectural firm, Gruen Associates in 1960. A requisite for an architect in California, Norma became the first Black woman to be a licensed architect in the state. Gruen Associates, founded by visionary Austrian architect Victor Gruen, was notable for their pioneering work with shopping malls and multi-use buildings. At Gruen, in 1965 she earned the director of architecture position where she was responsible for hiring and overseeing multiple staff members as well as serving as project manager on several high-profile projects for the firm.

Her projects included the high-rise multi-use building California Mart (1963), now known as California Market Center; skyscraper Fox Plaza (1966) in San Francisco and some of Norma's most notable work for Gruen, The Pacific Design Center (1975), a multi-use facility utilized by the California's bustling apparel and fashion industry. Norma's contributary design is affectionately known by California's locals as the "Blue Whale." Norma worked on the latter project with Gruen's lead architect at the time, Cesar Pelli, known for some of the world's tallest buildings, most notably World Finance Center (Brookfield Place) in New York City. Pelli also shared his credit with Norma for her exemplary contribution to the renovation and redesign of the San Bernardino City Hall (1972) in California as well as their work on the U.S. Embassy (1976) in Tokyo, Japan. While at Gruen, Norma married Rolf Sklarek, a fellow architect at the firm. She also taught architecture courses at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC). At UCLA, she was the first African American member of the faculty.

In 1980, she was finally recognized for all of her trailblazing and innovative work, when she became the first African American woman elected to the AIA College of Fellows. The highest honor within the architecture profession. This prestigious award gave her assurance that she could take her career to another level. She departed Gruen for Welton Becket & Associates, a prominent California firm renowned for iconic music and cultural centers, including the iconic Capitol Records building in Los Angeles. Norma was appointed as the vice president of the firm and lead project manager on one of her most notable works, Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport. She was recognized for the timely completion of the project as preparation for the influx of travelers to Los Angeles the for the 1984 Olympic Games. Norma also suffered the loss of her husband, Rolf Sklarek, the same year.

It was her work from the Los Angeles Airport project that empowered Norma to break yet another barrier. 1985 proved to be significant year as she became first African American woman to found and co-own a woman-owned architectural firm. Norma collaborated with fellow veteran architects Margot Siegal and Katherine Diamond to create Siegel-Sklarek-Diamond (SSD). SSD was one of the largest woman-owned architecture firms at the time. Their largest project was the Tarzana Promenade, a 90,000 sq. ft. medical and retail center, and the remodel and renovation of the Lawndale Civic Center; both located in California. Norma also designed work for the proposed Marva Collins Preparatory School in Compton, CA. The school was named after seminal educator, Marva Collins that had revolutionized education for low-income students in a crime-ridden area in Chicago, Ill. The hope was the replicate Collins' important work for children in Compton.

Being a new firm amidst the prevalence of racism and sexism within the profession left SSD at a disadvantage. Their projects were mainly residential and smaller commercial projects that didn't bring the income and accompanying challenges like larger scaled projects. Sklarek left SSD in 1989 for Jerde Partnership, an established innovator in the design and construction of shopping malls around the world. Norma was hired as the principal on the project management for the design and construction of the Mall of America. Located in Bloomington, Minnesota, it is considered to be the largest shopping mall in United States.

In 1992, Norma retired from the profession but did not resign herself to stop working. Norma became an active advocate in broadening the profession to include more women and people of color. She focused her work on teaching, lecturing, and mentoring. Over the years, she served as faculty and lecturer at several universities including UCLA, USC, University of Iowa, Kansas State University, California Polytechnic as well as her alma mater Columbia University. In an effort to inspire Black architects, Norma regularly lectured at HBCUs including Howard University, Hampton University, Tuskegee University, and Southern University.

Sklarek's work was recorded and recognized by the black press and publishers, such as her being included in Ebony magazine as early as 1958, in their article on "Successful Young Architects." In 2008, the AIA awarded her with the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award that recognizes architects who represented the profession's responsibility to address social issues. She also served on multiple professional boards and committees, such as the California Architects Board, Professional Qualifications Committee, California State Board of Architectural Examiners, the AIA National Ethics Council and many more.

On February 6, 2012, Sklarek died in the Pacific Palisades, California at the age of 85. She was survived by her husband Cornelius Welch, whom she married in 1985; her son, David Merrick Fairweather, stepdaughter Susan Welch as well as three grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son Gregory Merrick Ransom in 2006.

Historical Timeline

1926 -- Norma Merrick was born to Amy Willoughby and Walter Merrick in Harlem, New York.

1944 -- Graduated from Hunter College High School, New York, NY

1944-1945 -- Attended Barnard College, New York, NY

1945-1950 -- Attended Columbia University in New York City earning a bachelor's degree in architecture (B.Arch.).

1947 -- Married Dumas Flagg Ransom and had son, Gregory Merrick Ransom. They later divorced.

1950 -- Married Elwyn (Benjamin) Fairweather and had son, David Merrick Fairweather. They later divorced.

1950-1955 -- Worked at the Department of Public Works, New York, NY

1954 -- Licensed in the state of New York; believed to be the first black woman architect licensed in New York

1959 -- First African American woman member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

1955-1960 -- Worked at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in New York, NY

1957-1960 -- Architecture faculty member at New York City Community College, Brooklyn, NY

1960 -- Married Francis "Harry" Pena in New York, NY. Moved to California and began working at Gruen Associates and served as the Director of Architecture until 1980.

1962 -- First African American woman architect licensed in California

1963 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of the California Mart, Los Angeles, CA.

1966 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction Fox Plaza in San Francisco, CA.

1967 -- Sklarek divorced Pena and married Rolf Sklarek, a fellow architect at Gruen Associates.

1970 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of the Park Center Commercial Complex in San Jose, CA .

1972-1973 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of the San Bernardino, City Hall in San Bernardino, CA.

1973 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of Commons-Courthouse Center in Columbus, IN.

1973-1978 -- Served as faculty member in the UCLA School of Architecture and Urban Planning

1976 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of the U. S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.

1978 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles, CA.

1980 -- First African American woman fellow of the AIA

1980-1985 -- Worked as VP and project manager at Welton Becket & Associates in Santa Monica, CA

1984 -- Sklarek working with Welton Becket Associates coordinated the design and construction of Terminal One at the Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, CA. Rolf Sklarek died in February.

1985 -- Sklarek along with Margot Siegal and Katherine Diamond formed their own firm, Siegel- Sklarek-Diamond. Sklarek married Dr. Cornelius Welch.

1989 -- Left the Siegel-Sklarek-Diamond and joined The Jerde Partnership, in Venice, CA, as the principal project manager.

1989-1992 -- Sklarek coordinated the design and construction of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, MN.

1992 -- Retired from The Jerde Partnership

2003-2007 -- Served as commissioner on the California State Board of Architectural Examiners

2008 -- Awarded American Institute of Architects' Whitney M. Young Jr. Award

2012 -- Norma Merrick Sklarek died in the Pacific Palisades, California at the age of 85.
Provenance:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of David Merrick Fairweather and Yvonne Goff
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Rights:
The NMAAHC Archives can provide reproductions of some materials for research and educational use. Copyright and right to publicity restrictions apply and limit reproduction for other purposes.
Topic:
Architecture  Search this
Photographs  Search this
Business  Search this
Design  Search this
Women  Search this
Japan -- Tokyo  Search this
Entrepreneurship  Search this
African diaspora  Search this
Education  Search this
Gender  Search this
Identity  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence
Citation:
Norma Merrick Sklarek Archival Collection, 1944-2008. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
NMAAHC.A2018.23
See more items in:
Norma Merrick Sklarek Archival Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3a3fe2658-01c7-4c61-ac80-f808b2a24380
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-a2018-23
Online Media:

Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877

Creator:
Smithsonian Institution  Search this
Smith, Edward D.  Search this
Boyer, Horace Clarence, 1935-  Search this
Anacostia Museum  Search this
The Media Exchange, Inc.  Search this
Names:
African Harmonic Society (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Anacostia Neighborhood Museum  Search this
Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
First African Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
First African Presbyterian Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Jubilee Singers  Search this
Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (New York, N.Y.)  Search this
Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Shiloh Baptist Church (Washington, D.C.)  Search this
Society of Negroes  Search this
St. George's United Methodist Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
St. Philip's Church (Harlem, New York, N.Y.)  Search this
St. Thomas' Church (Philadelphia, Pa.)  Search this
Allen, Richard, 1760-1831  Search this
Allen, William Francis, 1830-1889  Search this
Bliss, P. P. (Philip Paul), 1838-1876  Search this
Bradbury, William B. (William Batchelder), 1816-1868  Search this
Garnet, Henry Highland, 1815-1882  Search this
Garrison, Lucy McKim, 1842-1877  Search this
Hosier, Harry, approximately 1750-1806  Search this
Jones, Absalom, 1746-1818  Search this
Liele, George, approximately 1750-approximately 1825  Search this
Mather, Cotton, 1663-1728  Search this
Rush, Christopher, 1777-1873  Search this
Sankey, Ira David, 1840-1908  Search this
Spencer, Peter, 1782-1843  Search this
Turner, Henry McNeal, 1834-1915  Search this
Ware, Charles Pickard, 1840-1921  Search this
Watts, Isaac, 1674-1748  Search this
Wesley, John, 1703-1791  Search this
Collection Creator:
Smithsonian Institution. Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Extent:
2 Video recordings (AV000962, AV003327, open reel, 1 inch)
1 Video recording (AV002642, VHS)
3 Sound recordings (AV002679, AV003345, AV003421, open reel, 1/4 inch)
1 Sound recording (AV003336, cartridge, 1/4 inch)
Type:
Archival materials
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Documentary films
Place:
United States
Date:
1994, c1987
Scope and Contents:
This short documentary provides an overview of the development of church music alongside the growth of African American churches in the eastern United States from the arrival of black Africans in Jamestown in 1619 through 1877 and the Reconstruction era. The evolution of church music within African American churches included the formation of music programs and performances, hymnals, choirs, negro spirituals, and music education as well as the addition of organs to accompany the singing of psalms, hymns, and anthems. During the Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s, the Christianization of slaves and Africanization of Protestant hymns swept through the American colonies. European Christianity and the emotionalism of the African homeland were combined during the Second Awakening, which began in the late eighteenth century and lasted until the middle of the nineteenth century. The history of church music created by urban and rural congregations within New England and Southern states is explored.
Short documentary. Part of Climbing Jacob's Ladder Audiovisual Records. Complete production: AV000962, AV003327. Production elements: AV002679 [narration], AV003345 [outtakes - sound], AV003421 [music], AV003336 [music]. AV003421: 6 songs including We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder [also known as Jacob's Ladder] and Battle Hymn of the Republic [also known as Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!]. AV003336: 2 recordings of We Are Climbing Jacob's Ladder. Dated 19940923 [AV000962]. Undated [all other recordings].
Biographical / Historical:
Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877 was created alongside the Climbing Jacob's Ladder: The Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American Cities, 1740 - 1877 exhibition which explored the growth and central role of African American churches during the 18th- and 19th-centuries in the eastern United States: Boston, Savannah, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond. The exhibition was organized by the Anacostia Museum and held there from October 1987 to October 1988.
Local Numbers:
ACMA AV003327

ACMA AV002679

ACMA AV003345

ACMA AV003421

ACMA AV003336

ACMA AV002642
General:
Title transcribed from opening credits of video recording.
Series Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Some items are not accessible due to obsolete format and playback machinery restrictions. Please contact the archivist at ACMarchives@si.edu.
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
African American churches  Search this
Churches  Search this
Church history  Search this
Religion  Search this
Church music  Search this
Music  Search this
African American choirs  Search this
Choirs (Music)  Search this
Spirituals (Songs)  Search this
Shape-note singing  Search this
Music -- Instruction and study  Search this
Slavery  Search this
Enslaved persons  Search this
Jacob's ladder (Biblical dream)  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Documentary films
Citation:
Church Songs of Black Americans 1740 - 1877, Exhibition Records AV03-036, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution.
Identifier:
ACMA.03-036, Item ACMA AV000962
See more items in:
Climbing Jacob's Ladder: the Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American cities, 1740 - 1877 Exhibition Records
Climbing Jacob's Ladder: the Rise of Black Churches in Eastern American cities, 1740 - 1877 Exhibition Records / Series 3: Audiovisual records
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa758197b71-2e48-44df-a550-1ddb005d8c1c
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-acma-03-036-ref885

Morgan and Marvin Smith Audiovisual Collection

Creator:
Smith, Morgan and Marvin, b. 1910  Search this
Names:
Anacostia Community Museum  Search this
Center for African American History & Culture (U.S.)  Search this
Smith, Marvin, 1910-2003  Search this
Extent:
481 Sound recordings (203 audio cassette sound recordings ; 6 vinyl sound recordings ; 272 open reel 1/4" sound recordings)
1 Floppy disc
209 Video recordings (21 16mm film prints ; 188 video recordings)
23 Linear feet (27 boxes)
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Sound recordings
Floppy discs
Video recordings
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
Date:
circa 1954-1990
bulk 1970-1980
Scope and Contents note:
Morgan and Marvin Smith, twin brothers who lived and worked in Harlem, NY, are regarded as the premiere photographers of the area from the 1930s-1950s. The two brothers pursued many creative outlets outside of photography, including painting, film, and
Related Archival Materials note:
Morgan and Marvin Smith's photograph collection is housed at the New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York City.
Provenance:
This collection was donated to the Center for African American History and Culture, a Smithsonian Initiative which operated in the 1990s before merging with the Anacostia Museum.
Restrictions:
Use of the materials requires an appointment. Many materials in the collection are inaccessible due to their obsolete formats and fragile state. Please contact the archivist at ACMarchives@si.edu.
Occupation:
Artists  Search this
Topic:
African Americans  Search this
African American photographers  Search this
Music  Search this
Genre/Form:
Video recordings
Sound recordings
Citation:
Morgan and Marvin Smith Audiovisual Collection, Anacostia Community Museum Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Identifier:
ACMA.09-012
Archival Repository:
Anacostia Community Museum Archives
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/qa717481d36-0c02-418d-9a67-b523b149f9cf
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-acma-09-012

Cotton Club Parade [sheet music]

Topic:
Ethnic Imagery Project, Archives Center
American South
Lyricist:
Koehler, Ted  Search this
Composer:
Bloom, Rube, 1902-1976  Search this
Names:
Cotton Club  Search this
Hopkins, Claude (featured by)  Search this
McKinney, Nina Mae (featured by)  Search this
Series Creator:
DeVincent, Sam, 1918-1997  Search this
Extent:
1 Item (Ink on paper.)
Container:
Box 74, Folder 2oth Century Songs about African Americans
Culture:
African Americans  Search this
Type:
Archival materials
Sheet music
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- 20th century
Date:
1933
Scope and Contents:
Lyrics about an African American in Harlem who longs for the South.
Local Numbers:
040300121.tif (AC Scan No. for front cover)

040300122.tif (AC Scan No. for music and ads on p. 2)

040300123.tif (AC Scan No. for music and lyrics p. 3)

040300124.tif (AC Scan No. for music and lyrics pp. 4-5)

040300125.tif (AC Scan No. for back cover)
General:
From series 3.4, African American.
Publication:
New York., Mills Music Inc., 1933
Series Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Series Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Jazz  Search this
Music  Search this
Genre/Form:
Sheet music -- 1930-1940
Series Citation:
The Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
See more items in:
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 3: African American Music
Sam DeVincent Collection of Illustrated American Sheet Music, Series 3: African American Music / 3.4: Songs about African American/Vocal Ragtime / 20th Century Songs, A - H
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ep8953abc67-e7b5-4673-9a24-1f8bdb6133e0
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0300-s03-ref1089

James A. Baldwin Collection

Creator:
Baldwin, James, 1924-1987  Search this
Names:
Baldwin, Daniel  Search this
Baldwin, David  Search this
Dandridge, Frank  Search this
Evers, Charles  Search this
King, Martin Luther, Jr., 1929-1968  Search this
Whaley, Paula Baldwin  Search this
Extent:
4.29 Linear feet
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Correspondence
Place:
Harlem (New York, N.Y.)
France
Turkey
Venice (Italy)
Date:
1935-1988
Summary:
James Baldwin was a writer and an activist and is one of the most prominent voices from his generation to bring light to issues of racial and sexual discrimination. This collection contains correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, and awards. The collection provides insight into his family, writing process, and travels during his lifetime.
Scope and Contents:
The James Baldwin Collection provides insight into Baldwin's life as a writer and activist. The collection contains correspondence, photographs, manuscripts, and awards. A significant portion of the collection are photographs by photojournalist Frank Dandridge. The collection focuses on Baldwin's grade school educational career, his writing process, as well as his thoughts about social equality and civil rights.
Arrangement:
The materials in this collection have been kept at the folder level and separated into six series. The materials have been ordered and organized based on the content. Series 6 has been broken down into a smaller subseries dedicated to the Frank Dandridge photographic prints. Series 8: Oversize Materials acts as an extension of the first five series, with materials that could not be housed with their corresponding materials due to size constraints. Within each series and subseries, the folders are organized as close to the collection's original order as when it was acquired.
Biographical Sketch:
James Arthur Baldwin (1924–1987) was born in Harlem, New York, on August 2, 1924, to Emma Berdis Jones, originally from Princess Anne, Maryland. He was reared by his mother and stepfather David Baldwin, whom Baldwin referred to as his father and whom he describes as extremely strict. He did not know his biological father. As the oldest of nine children, Baldwin took seriously the responsibility of being a big brother and his mother's right hand. He cared for and protected his three younger brothers and five sisters in a household governed by the rigid rules of their father, a Baptist preacher, originally from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, Baldwin, himself, became a preacher at the Fireside Pentecostal Assembly, where he developed a celebrated preaching style. Baldwin's brief experience in the church would have a sustained impact on his rhetorical style and on the themes, symbols, and biblical allusions in his writings. Baldwin's Pentecostal experience is, in fact, essential to understanding his complex views on Christianity, which he espoused in his speeches and publications. His experience would also serve in part as the underpinnings of his stance on religion. In The Fire Next Time, Baldwin proclaims, "If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, it is time we got rid of Him." During his early teen years, Baldwin attended Frederick Douglass Junior High School, where he met his French teacher and mentor Countee Cullen, who achieved prominence as a poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Baldwin went on to DeWitt Clinton High School, where he edited the school newspaper The Magpie and participated in the literary club, just as Cullen had done when he was a student there. By high school graduation, he had met his close friends at DeWitt Clinton—Richard Avedon, Emile Capouya, and Sol Stein.

The 1940s marked several turning points in Baldwin's life. In 1942, he graduated from high school, and a year later he witnessed the New York Race Riots and experienced the death of his father. After this emotional loss, Baldwin felt more than ever it was important to play father figure to his siblings. He worked at menial jobs during the day, and at night he played guitar in Greenwich Village cafes and wrote long hours, trying to fulfill his dream of becoming a writer.

In 1944, Baldwin met Richard Wright, whose written work spoke to his heart and who would also become a mentor. Baldwin appreciated Wright's strong opinions about race in America, and he greatly valued their intellectual exchange. Wright helped Baldwin to obtain a fellowship to write his first novel, which enabled him to leave for Paris in 1948, where the older writer had relocated a few years earlier. However, the two were often at odds about the ways in which they approached race in their work. Baldwin wrote three essays explicating his critique of Wright's "protest art." This conflict eventually led to the demise of their friendship.

In 1948, at age twenty-four, Baldwin left the United States to live in Paris, France, as he could not tolerate the racial and sexual discrimination he experienced on a daily basis. Professor Kendall Thomas of Columbia Law School explains that Baldwin left his country because of racism and Harlem because of homophobia--two aspects of his identity that made him a frequent target of beatings by local youth and the police. Years later, when asked about his departure, Baldwin explained in a Paris Review interview: "My luck was running out. I was going to go to jail, I was going to kill somebody or be killed" (1984). In Paris, Baldwin began to interact with other writers. He reconnected with Richard Wright, and for the first time, he met Maya Angelou, with whom he maintained a close relationship.

Baldwin would spend the next forty years abroad, where he wrote and published most of his works. Between 1960 and 1970, Baldwin lived regularly in Istanbul, Turkey. Still, the violence and assassinations in the United States during the politically turbulent 1960s took an emotional toll on Baldwin. After the assassination of his three friends—Medgar Evers in 1963, Malcolm X in 1965, and Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968—Baldwin suffered an emotional breakdown and eventually moved to the South of France to recuperate. In 1970, he settled in a house in the village of St. Paul de Vence, where he would live the rest of his life.

During his years abroad, Baldwin returned to the United States frequently and considered himself a "transatlantic commuter." In 1955, he signed a lease for an apartment at 63 West 97th Street in New York, and from the mid 1960s on, he maintained a home at 137 West 71st Street in Manhattan. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Baldwin was actually living in California. Many of Baldwin's extended visits were to spend time with his large and beloved family and to participate in Civil Rights Movement events. He attended the March on Washington in 1963 and the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965. Baldwin also participated in literary events, such as the 1965 conference titled "The Negro Writer's Vision of America" sponsored by the New School of Social Research in New York. During his presentation, Baldwin addressed the conference theme, stating, "I know a story which America denies. And it denies it for the very good reason that my story, once told, confronts it with the truth about itself. In fact, my story, once told, will liberate America. The possibility of liberation—the necessity of becoming responsible for one's own life—is what most people most profoundly fear."

Baldwin passed away on November 30, 1987, in his house in St. Paul de Vence after a short battle with stomach cancer. A week later, he was laid to rest at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and buried at the Ferncliff Cemetery in New York. Family members and friends participated in a large service during which Toni Morrison, Amiri Baraka, and Maya Angelou delivered touching remarks about their friend and brother. Angelou stated that Baldwin's love "opened the unusual door for me, and I am blessed that James Baldwin was my brother."

Literary and Civil Rights Timeline

1924 -- Born August 2nd

1938 -- Graduates from Frederick Douglass Junior High School, where his early ambitions in writing were encouraged by his teacher Countee Cullen, the Harlem Renaissance poet

1942 -- Graduates from DeWitt Clinton High School, where he was a member of the literary club and edited the school newspaper The Magpie

1944 -- Meets writer Richard Wright, who refers Baldwin's first draft of Go Tell It On The Mountain to Harper and Brothers publishing house

1945 -- Receives a $500.00 Saxton Fellowship from Harper and Brothers; the first draft of Go Tell It On The Mountain is rejected by Harper and Doubleday; Baldwin begins writing reviews for The Nation and The New Leader

1947 -- Publishes essay "History as Nightmare" in The New Leader

1948 -- Publishes essay "The Harlem Ghetto" and short story "Previous Condition" in Commentary; Baldwin moves to Paris

1949 -- Publishes "Everybody's Protest Novel," in which he critics Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin and Richard Wright's Native Son; jailed in Paris for eight days for theft (falsely accused of stealing hotel bed sheets)

1951 -- Publishes "Many Thousands Gone" in the Partisan Review; attack on Richard Wright leads to breakup; Baldwin completes Go Tell It On the Mountain in Switzerland, where he stayed three months with Swiss friend and lover Lucien Happersberger

1953 -- Publishes "Stranger in the Village" in Harper's Magazine; the essay is based on his stay in Switzerland

1954 -- Wins Guggenheim Fellowship; attends MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire

1955 -- Attends Yadao, an artists' community in Sarasota Springs, New York; revises Amen Corner during Howard University rehearsals and publishes it the same year; also publishes the collection of essays Notes of a Native Son and an autobiographical narrative "Equal in Paris," about being jailed in Paris in 1949, originally published in Commentary magazine

1956 -- Publishes Giovanni's Room with Dial Press; accepts National Institute of Arts and Letters Award and a Partisan Review fellowship; covers First Conference of Negro and African Writers and Artists at the Sorbonne, sponsored by Presence Africanize

1957 -- Publishes "Sonny's Blues" in the Partisan Review; Travels to the South on assignment for the Partisan Review, where he interviews student protests and meets with Martin Luther King, Jr.

1959 -- Awarded a two-year Ford Foundation grand to complete Another Country; Interviews film director Ingmar Bergman in Sweden; publishes essay "A Letter From the South: Nobody Knows My Name" in the Partisan Review ; apprentice on Elia Kazan's productions of Sweet Bird of Youth and J.B.

1960 -- Covers sit-ins in Tallahassee, Florida; interviews student at Florida A & M; published "They Can't Turn Back" in Mademoiselle Magazine; Richard Wright dies suddenly

1961 -- Publishes second collection of essays Nobody Knows My Name, Dial Press; publishes the essay "Alas, Poor Richard," another scathing critic of Richard Wright's work; appears on radio and television to promote Nobody Knows My Name and to speak about civil rights; meets Elijah Muhammad and Malcolm X; completes Another Country; Swiss television produces "Stranger in the Village"; publishes the "Black Boy Looks at the White Boy"; makes first visit to Turkey at the invitation of Turkish actor Engin Cezzar

1962 -- Publishes Another Country, Dial Press, and it becomes a national best seller; Baldwin travels to West Africa; "Letter from a Region in My Mind" published in The New Yorker, later printed in The Fire Next Time as "Down at the Cross"

1963 -- Publishes The Fire Next Time to national acclaim; appears on the cover of May 17th issue of Time magazine; NAACP Field Secretary and friend Medgar Evers is assassinated on June 12 outside his home in Jackson, Mississippi; starts lecture tour for CORE in the South and the North; registers voters in Alabama for SNCC; wins Polk Memorial Award for outstanding magazine journalism; participates in March on Washington; travels to Nairobi, Kenya, with Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier to celebrate Kenya's independence

1964 -- Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters; publishes the play Blues for Mr. Charlie, Dial Press, and theater production of Blues for Mr. Charlie appears at the historic American National Theater and Academy (ANTA) in New York; publishes Nothing Personal with photographer and high school friend Richard Avedon, Atheneum Books

1965 -- Debates William F. Buckley at Cambridge and receives standing ovation for his response to "Is the American Dream at the Expense of the American Negro?"; Malcolm X is assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity; Baldwin attends Selma to Montgomery March; publishes Going to Meet the Man, Dial Press; The play The Amen Corner is performed in New York, Israel, and Europe

1968 -- Publishes the novel Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, Dial Press; Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee; Baldwin speaks at the World Council of Churches in Sweden against apartheid in South Africa; testifies at a Congressional hearing in support of a commission to establish a national museum of African American history and culture; receives personal attacks from Soul on Ice author Eldridge Cleaver

1969 -- Publishes New York Times article "The Price May Be Too High" about black writers in a white publishing industry; directs John Herbert's "Fortune and Men's Eyes" in Istanbul, Turkey

1970 -- Becomes the subject of photographs and a short film From Another Place , both by Sedat Pakay in Istanbul; holds conversations with anthropologist Margaret Mead titled "A Rap On Race"

1971 -- Baldwin and anthropologist Margaret Mead publish the transcript of conversations held in New York in 1970 in a co-authored book titled A Rap On Race; publishes "An Open Letter to My Sister Angela Davis" in New York Times Review of Books; moves to a house in St. Paul de Vence in the South of France

1972 -- Publishes No Name In The Street, Dial Press; publishes the screenplay One Day When I Was Lost, based on Alex Haley's bestselling classic The Autobiography of Malcolm X .

1973 -- Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates secures rare interview with James Baldwin and Josephine Baker together in James Baldwin's house in St. Paul de Vence, France; Baldwin appears with television host and poet Nikki Giovanni on "Soul," and the transcript is published as a dialogue

1974 -- Publishes If Beale Street Could Talk, Dial Press; becomes the third recipient (after writer Tennessee Williams and dancer Martha Graham) of the prestigious Centennial Medal awarded to "The Artist As Prophet" by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York

1976 -- Publishes what would be his only children's book Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood, with illustrations by Yoran Cazac, Dial Press; publishes the book-length essay The Devil Finds Work

1978 -- Teaches a spring course in contemporary literature at Bowling Green State University in Ohio (returns in the fall of 1979 and 1981); awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Medal

1979 -- Publishes Just Above My Head, his sixth and last novel, Dial Press; goes into seclusion after friend and mentor Beauford Delaney dies in March; teaches at UC Berkeley in the spring and speaks in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Santa Barbara; begins writing and lecturing on black English; publishes "Open Letter to the Born Again" in The Nation; meets Chinua Achebe at the University of Florida, African Literature Association; travels throughout the South

1982 -- Film makers Dick Fontaine and Pat Harley release television documentary of Baldwin' trip through the South "I Heard It Through The Grapevine"

1983 -- Publishes selected poems in Jimmy's Blues, St. Martin's Press; teaches Afro American Studies at University of Amherst in the fall

1984 -- Hospitalized for exhaustion; works on the play The Welcome Table

1985 -- Publishes "Freaks and the American Ideal of Manhood" in Playboy; American Playhouse dramatizes Go Tell It On The Mountain; publishes The Evidence of Things Not Seen, Holt, Rinehart & Winston Publishing; publishes The Price of the Ticket: Collected Non-Fiction, 1948–1985, St. Martin's Press

1986 -- Receives France's highest civilian recognition, the Legion of Honor; travels to the Soviet Union for an international conference and to London for a production of Amen Corner ; suffers fatigue and becomes ill

1987 -- Returns to St. Paul de Vence and is diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus, which spreads to the stomach; grants his last interview to poet and journalist Quincy Troop in mid-November in bed at his home; dies November 30 and his friend and assistant publicly announces his death December 1; memorials are held in St. Paul de Vence and Harlem; is eulogized by Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Amiri Baraka at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York; body buried at Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York
Provenance:
Acquired as a purchase from Baldwin's sister, Paula Baldwin Whaley in 2017.
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research. Access to collection materials requires an appointment.
Rights:
The NMAAHC Archives can provide reproductions of some materials for research and educational use. Copyright and right to publicity restrictions apply and limit reproduction for other purposes.
Topic:
Literature  Search this
Architecture  Search this
Civil rights  Search this
Theater  Search this
LGBTQ+  Search this
Activism  Search this
Awards  Search this
Education  Search this
Communication  Search this
Families  Search this
finance  Search this
Funeral rites and ceremonies  Search this
Journalism  Search this
Justice  Search this
Mass media  Search this
Photography  Search this
Politics  Search this
Poverty  Search this
Race discrimination  Search this
Sexuality  Search this
Travel  Search this
Identity  Search this
Genre/Form:
Correspondence
Citation:
James Baldwin Collection, National Museum of African American History and Culture
Identifier:
NMAAHC.A2017.47
See more items in:
James A. Baldwin Collection
Archival Repository:
National Museum of African American History and Culture
GUID:
https://n2t.net/ark:/65665/io3721df784-2906-46b1-9424-8cf154ce1eb8
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmaahc-a2017-47
Online Media:

Modify Your Search







or


Narrow By