Tag: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library

Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)

Detail photos show materials from the papers of Angela Davis that are now housed at the Schlesinger Library. (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

by Colleen Walsh via news.harvard.edu

For almost 60 years Angela Davis has been for many an iconic face of feminism and counterculture activism in America. Now her life in letters and images will be housed at Harvard University.

Radcliffe College‘s Schlesinger Library has acquired Davis’ archive, a trove of documents, letters, papers, photos, and more that trace her evolution as an activist, author, educator, and scholar. The papers were secured with support from Harvard’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research.

The FBI wanted poster for Davis (Courtesy Schlesinger Library)

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” Davis said in a statement. “I am very happy that at the Schlesinger Library they will join those of June Jordan, Patricia Williams, Pat Parker, and so many other women who have been advocates of social transformation.”

Jane Kamensky, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library, sees the collection yielding “prize-winning books for decades as people reckon with this legacy and put [Davis] in conversation with other collections here and elsewhere.”

When looking for new material, Kamensky said the library seeks collections “that will change the way that fields know what they know,” adding that she expects the Davis archive to inspire and inform scholars across a range of disciplines.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. said that he’s followed Davis’ life and work ever since spotting a “Free Angela” poster on the wall at his Yale dorm. Gates, the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. University Professor, has worked to increase the archival presence of African-Americans who have made major contributions to U.S. society, politics, and culture. He called the Davis papers “a marvelous coup for Harvard.”

“She’s of enormous importance to the history of political thought and political activism of left-wing or progressive politics and the history of race and gender in the United States since the mid-’60s,” said Gates, who directs the Hutchins Center. “No one has a more important role, and now scholars will be able to study the arc of her thinking, the way it evolved and its depth, by having access to her papers.”

The acquisition is in keeping with the library’s efforts to ensure its collections represent a broad range of life experiences. In 2013 and 2014 an internal committee developed a diverse wish list, “and a foundational thinker and activist like Angela Davis was very naturally at the top,” said Kamensky.

Kenvi Phillips, hired as the library’s first curator for race and ethnicity in 2016, met with Davis in Oakland last year to collect the papers with help from two archivists. Together they packed 151 boxes of material gathered from a storage site, an office, and Davis’ home. Continue reading “Activist and Educator Angela Davis’ Papers Acquired by Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library (VIDEO)”

Archive of African American Women Soldiers’ Letters Donated to Harvard University

Myraline Morris Whitaker (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)
Maryline Morris Whitaker (Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer)

Maryline Morris Whitaker is the founder of the Sister Soldier Project, a grassroots organization that provides hair care products to African American women soldiers to help them comply with the militaries requirements for hair. “If hair is longer than your ears, it has to be pulled back and tucked under, and as a Black woman I just don’t understand how that happens without the right product,” Whitaker says.

In 2008, Whitaker raised enough money and donations to send 1,000 packages of hair care products to African American women serving in combat areas overseas. She received a large number of thank you letters from the women soldiers. “These women never complained,” said Whitaker, commenting on the letters she received. “They just talked about their lives in the service. They were happy to be there. They talked about the families they left behind, and they’d send pictures of their children.”

Whitaker realized that she had a treasure trove of letters documenting the experiences of African American women serving overseas in the armed forces. She volunteered to donate the archive to the Smithsonian museum but the museum was not interested.

But Whitaker found a home for her archive at the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The Schlesinger Library holdings date from the founding of the United States to the present and include more than 3,200 manuscript collections, 100,000 volumes of books and periodicals, and films, photos, and audiovisual material. The library holds many collections from African American women including Mildred Jefferson, the first Black woman graduate of Harvard Medical School, author June Jordan, civil rights activist Pauli Murray, and author Dorothy West.

article via jbhe.com