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Africana Studies Subject Guide — Primary Sources (Archival Collections)

Interdisciplinary guide for Africana/African American Studies

Africana Collections at UConn

Still image of an African American student carrying a book followed by a White police officer.

The UConn Library's Archives & Special Collections (ASC), is located in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. ASC also contains the University Archives, as well as thousands of collections spanning a wide variety of topics, including Black experiences relating to the arts, politics, and history in Connecticut, the U.S., and beyond. To view collection materials in person for research, contact ASC to make an appointment. Please note that not all materials are available digitally. 

Search tips: Published materials in special collections can be found via the library catalog and are best discovered when filtered by library location (Archives & Special Collections). Unpublished materials (e.g. photographs, manuscripts, records, etc.) are accessible and searchable through finding aids on ArchivesSpace

Photo Info: Black student protest in Wilbur Cross Library, April 23, 1974. Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library. Link to image. 


Africana & African Studies Special & Archival Collections

Allen Polite Papers

Handwritten manuscripts, notebooks, letters, typed transcriptions of poetry, prose, and a play for voices, by Allen Polite, writer and artist affiliated with the Black Arts Movement. Published works of Allen Polite's poetry, and transcriptions, produced by his widow Helene Polite can be found throughout.


Alternative Press Collection 

The collection consists of newspapers, periodicals, and pamphlets of the non-establishment or alternative movements, political, economic, and social, of the twentieth century, primarily American. Begun in 1967 when ephemeral campus underground materials were collected by Special Collections Department staff, documentation continued through the 1970s to focus on political and social problems of the decade In addition to subject files on alternative organizations, posters, buttons, and ephemera from social movements in the United States, the APC contains manuscript collections, including the personal papers of activists such as Abbie Hoffman, Cal Robertson, Stephen Thornton, and Foster Gunnison; records of social justice organizations such as the Connecticut Civil Liberties Union; and various topical collections including the Poras Collection of Vietnam War Memorabilia and the Meyer Collection of Fat Liberation


Ann and Samuel Charters Archive of the Harlem Renaissance

This collection documents the published work of writers and recording artists of the Harlem Renaissance through the poetry, novels, plays, and music that emerged between 1917 and 1934, a period in American history characterized by an “unprecedented mobilization of talent and group support in the service of a racial arts and letters movement,” according to historian and author David Levering Lewis. Assembled by Ann and Samuel Charters, the collection includes works by Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen, Jessie Fauset, Rudolph Fisher, Langston Hughes, Nella Larsen, Alain Locke, Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, and George Schuyler, as well as original pamphlets, periodicals, audio recordings, and reference sources.


Bill Huston, 1971-1984

Painter Bill Hutson is an internationally recognized artist, known for abstract paintings. He delivered 4 lectures in the 1970s and 80s that can be accessed on 5 reels.


Connecticut Citizens Action Group Records

The Connecticut Citizens Action Group Records document the activities and concerns of the first state-formed consumer interest group. Their records contain significant information about most of the major consumer and public interest issues of the 1970s and 1980s, ranging from environmental and energy concerns to health, housing, political reform, insurance, and housing. There are no restrictions on the use of these records. There are other additional records that were received after this guide was produced.


Connecticut School Desegregation Collection

The collection contains legal files, documents, reports, studies, correspondence, publications, conference proceedings, papers, and similar materials pertaining to two lawsuits concerning the desegregation of Connecticut's public schools.


Conrad Johnson, 1978-1983

Architect Conrad Johnson delivered 4 lectures to the Black Experience in the Arts course, ranging from the years 1978 to 1983. In his 1983 lecture, Johnson described what it was like to be a working architect in New York City. He helped found Ifill, Johnson, and Hanchard's architectural design firm. One reason the firm was established was Johnson related how hard it can be for a Black architect to find a permanent position. Johnson's presentations showed slides of buildings.


Dana Chandler, 1970

Dana Chandler, also known as Akin Duro, taught art and art history at Simmons College from 1970-2004. Chandler used his art for the causes of social justice and human rights. His paintings depict oppression and racial violence in America. Chandler created his art with the intent to communicate contemporary views of black people and their future.


Diana I. Rios Collection of Ethnic Press Newspapers

The collection contains newspapers collected in conjunction with the University of Connecticut Libraries' exhibit, "The Ethnic American Press: Cultural Maintenance and Assimilation Roles." The titles in the collection represent a broad spectrum of non-English and English language papers, with each paper in the collection being represented by anywhere from a single issue to months’ worth of production. The collection includes papers from 1992 through 2009, but most of the collection focuses on the years 2007 and 2008. The papers also come from a variety of cities, including Hartford, Chicago, Boston, Madison (WI), New York, Austin, and San Antonio, Texas.


Don Miller, 1974-1984

Painter and illustrator Don Miller lectured 5 times.


Floyd Cooper Collection

Author and illustrator Floyd Cooper attended the University of Oklahoma (B.F.A.). He worked in advertising and for a greeting card company in Missouri prior to becoming a freelance illustrator (1984- present).


Hale Smith, 1972-1987

16 Hale Smith lectures can be found in the Black Experience in the Arts reel-to-reel collection. Smith was also the course's longtime co-instructor and responsible for selecting the class’s many guest speakers since he knew many of the artists. In his 1972 lecture, Smith spoke to students about black composers. Smith, who at the time was one of the few black composers whose work was performed by the New York Philharmonic, educated students about African American composers such as William Grant Still, Howard Swanson, and Ulysses Kay. Smith admitted he struggled with what constitutes black music because it’s such a fluid art form. He had reached the conclusion that jazz music, because of its proximity to blues, has a clear connection to black identity and cultural heritage. But Smith found less of a racial connection between composition and classical music.


Hendricks, Barkley, 1986-1987

Although largely overlooked and underrepresented in art galleries for most of his career, he is often cited to be a major influence among contemporary black artists. It was not until the last decade of his life that he became internationally recognized and his pieces began to appear in such institutions as the Studio Museum of Harlem, Whitney Museum of Art, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Contemporary Arts Museum in Huston, Texas, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Nasher Museum of Art.


Louise Meriwether, 1971-1988

Novelist and essayist Louise Meriwether delivered 13 lectures to the Black Experience in the Arts course, ranging from 1971 to 1988. The theme of Meriwether's 1972 lecture was the black writer from slavery to black nationalism. She discussed the lives and careers of writers such as Phillis Wheatly, Frances Harper, and George Moses Horton who became the 1st slave to openly protest his condition in print. She also highlighted David Walker's 1829 indictment against slavery.


Marie F. and James S. Peters II Papers

The collection contains primarily the professional papers associated with the careers of Marie F. and James S. Peters II, in their respective areas of specialization. Dr. James Peters wrote several books later in his life, as well as his memoirs, which are also represented in the collection.


Marilyn Nelson Papers

The collection contains correspondence from Nelson's MFA students at Vermont College> and from other poets, personal notebooks, photographs, manuscripts of poetry, and translations and term papers were written while Nelson was a student.


Mia Farrow Collection

The Mia Farrow Collection contains correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes, photographs, writings, and speeches pertaining to Ms. Farrow's activism and advocacy in Africa, particularly regarding Darfur, Sudan. There are also materials relating to Chad, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.


Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge Free And Accepted Masons Of Connecticut Records

The collection contains materials dating from 1925 through 1987, although the bulk of the collection dates from 1971-1981. The files are the result of a letter sent to several Grand Masters of the Lodge requesting their personal papers concerning freemasonry in Connecticut. Included in the collection are correspondence, reports, publications, photographs, addresses, lectures, ephemera, and newspaper clippings all concerning the Lodge and its activities and members.


Oliver Tambo Papers

Oliver Reginald Tambo spent most of his life serving in the struggle against apartheid. During his years in the African National Congress (ANC), Oliver Tambo played a major role in the growth and development of the movement and its policies. He was among the generation of African nationalist leaders who emerged after the Second World War and who were instrumental in the transformation of the ANC from a liberal-constitutionalist organization into a radical national liberation movement.


Preston L. Pope Papers

The Papers consist of publications, correspondence, and news articles gathered by Preston L. Pope> when he served as Grand Master of the Prince Hall Grand Lodge, Free and Accepted Masons of Connecticut. Mr. Pope is known as the first African-American bus driver in Hartford, Connecticut, for the Connecticut Company. In his work as a printer, he was employed by the State of Connecticut Corrections Institute as the supervisor of printing for the Somers State Prison. He retired in 1982.


Raoul Abdul, 1973 - 1988

Raoul Abdul lectured at the University of Connecticut's Black Experience in the Arts course a total of 17 times between 1973 to 1988. Abdul's 90-minute lecture in 1975 introduced students to his career history and to the musicians and performers that influenced him, including Chevalier de Saint-Georges, the first classical composer of African ancestry; violin virtuoso George Bridgetower; and Black singers such as Roland Hayes and Paul Robeson. His lecture concluded with a discussion of the Black performers who helped integrate New York's Metropolitan Opera like Marian Anderson, Mattiwilda Dobbs, George Shirley, and Robert McFerrin, Sr.


Richard Mayhew, 1970 - 1972

Landscape painter Richard Mayhew delivered 3 lectures in the 1970s that can be found on 4 reels. Mayhew was a member of Spiral, a black painters’ group that formed in 1960s New York City. Mayhew was an art student at the Brooklyn Museum’s school of art and took additional classes at Pratt Institute and Columbia. Mayhew won his first


Samuel and Ann Charters Archives of Blues and Vernacular African American Musical Culture

Despite its primary emphasis on the blues and ragtime, the Samuel and Ann Charters Archives spans the entire 20th century, beginning with African American spirituals and the ragtime of Scott Joplin and other early composers, and ending with Snoop Doggy Dogg and the rappers of the late 20th century. The Archives hold thousands of hours of recorded music on LP, 45 rpm, and 78 rpm records, compact discs, audio cassettes, and reel-to-reel tapes. Though some records date back to the 1920s, the compact discs in the collection include both recent and reissued material. Most of these recordings are commercial, and the Archives holds a complete catalog of music produced by the Arhoolie label, courtesy of label owner, Chris Strachwitz and Document Records, courtesy of label managing director, Gary Atkinson. The artists included in the Charters Archives range from the most famous blues performers such as B.B. King and Robert Johnson, to obscure ragtime musicians. Many of the ragtime recordings are from concerts, conventions, and meetings hosted by the Maple Leaf Club.


Series I: Rogers Collection, undated, 1904-1982, bulk: 1975 - 1982

From the Collection: The collection contains framed clippings, a framed novelty song collection, a framed book collection, a framed honorary degree, and research posters.


Souleymane Keita, 1982 - 1984

Painter Souleymane Keita lectured on 10/19/1982 (2015-0002/RR33) and again on 11/6/1984 (2015-0002/RR34). Keita was a painter born in Senegal. After studying at the National School of Fine Arts, Keita became a professor of ceramics and painting at the Jamaica Arts Center in New York City. He later became a board member of Goree Institute and Scientific Council of the Biennial event of Dakar. In addition, Keita was a major member of L’Ecole de Dakar.


University of Connecticut, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Records [David Carter]

The collection contains minutes, notes, correspondence, reports, and questionnaires associated with activities that were the responsibilities of the position held by Dr. Carter, the first African American president of a four-year higher education institution in Connecticut.


University of Connecticut, Black Experience in the Arts Collection

Lecture notes, transcriptions of lectures and interviews, and over three hundred audio recordings associated with a University of Connecticut School of Fine Arts course, "Black Experience in the Arts." The course's instructors included professors James Eversole, Hale Smith, Edward O'Connor, Leon Bailey, and Carlton Molette. The records, particularly the audio recordings, document the contributions of black artists of the period and the power of art as a mechanism for social change and racial expression.


University of Connecticut, Center for Black Studies

The Center was created in 1969 to facilitate interdepartmental support for research, study and outreach focused on the black experience. The collection contains materials concerning the establishment of the Center and programs of its activities from its establishment through 1980.


University of Connecticut, Women’s Center Records

The University of Connecticut's Women's Center collection is comprised of books, correspondence, notes, fliers, clippings, publications, legal records, and transcripts. The center serves the needs of a diverse cross-section of students on campus, and has provided counseling services, operated crisis centers, and brought awareness to numerous issues facing gay, African American, and divorced students, in addition to helping the victims of discrimination, assault, and rape

Primary Source Databases

Digital Collections & External Resources

Connecticut Digital Archive
The CTDA is part of the Digital Preservation Repository Program at the University of Connecticut. CTA serves the entire state and is dedicated to the maintenance, delivery, and preservation of a wide range of digital resources for educational and cultural institutions and State Agencies in Connecticut. CTDA supports collections by Mystic Seaport Museum, P.T. Barnum Digital Collection and Barnum Museum, the American School for the Deaf, the Connecticut Historical Society, Connecticut State Library, and more. 

Chronicling America Digital Newspaper Archive
Chronicling America is a project providing free access to information about historic newspapers and select digitized newspaper pages. It is produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Library of Congress (LC). Search America's historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 or use the U.S. Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published between 1690-present. 

Digital Library of the Caribbean
A multi-institutional, international digital library comprised of over 140 collections pertaining to the Caribbean and containing digitized and born-digital newspapers, documents, photos, recordings, and more. 

Joel Buchanan Archive of African American Oral History
This digital collection contains over 700 oral history interviews with African American elders throughout Florida and the wider Gulf South. These interviews and the overall projects associated with them have resulted in numerous public programs, university seminars on African American history and Ethnic Studies, and community-based oral history workshops. Most oral histories include transcripts and audio or video recordings. 

Schomburg Center at NYPL
Digital Schomburg provides access to trusted information, interpretation, and scholarship on the global Black experience through online materials at the Schomburg Center created and curated by our staff and librarians. Visitors can locate online articles, digital exhibitions, photographs, audio and video streams, historical projects, and external links for research in the history and cultures of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora.

Television News Archive at Vanderbilt
The core collection of the Archive consists of regularly scheduled newscasts from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News. Special news reports are recorded in addition to these newscasts, including material from other networks. We record broadcasts as they are televised, provide the widest access allowable within copyright for scholarship and research, and preserve the content for future generations. The database currently includes 1,365,023 records, including abstracts at the story level of regular evening newscasts and catalog records for each special news report.