African American Studies at Beinecke Library

Joel E. Spingarn Collection

Posted in Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on June 23, 2007

Joel Spingarn was an educator and writer who published works of literary criticism and collections of his own poetry. He is most well-known for his involvement in social reform, primarily his work with the NAACP, which he served as Chairman of the Board of Directors and President. Spingarn’s wife Amy was a writer and artist; his brother, Arthur B. Spingarn, was an important civil rights lawyer who served as president of the NAACP for nearly 20 years.

Joel E. Spingarn established the Spingarn Medal, given to recognize the contributions of African-Americans; he dedicated the medal “to the lifelong interest of my brother, Arthur B. Spingarn, of my wife, Amy E. Spingarn, and of myself in the achievements of the American Negro.” A complete list of Spingarn Medal recipients is available on Wikipedia: Spingarn Medal.

The Spingarn collection consists mainly of correspondence from writers, civil rights advocates, and Harlem Renaissance figures such as James Weldon Johnson, Aaron Douglas, W. E. B. DuBois, and Carl Van Vechten. A complete listing of the collection can be found online: Joel E. Spingarn Collection. Books by Joel, Amy, and Arthur Spingarn can be located in Orbis, the Yale Library catalog. Some artwork by Amy Spingarn can be found in the Beinecke Library’s Digital Images Collection.

Related collections at the Beinecke Library can be located by searching the Finding Aid Database; such collections include: James Weldon Johnson Papers (correspondence), Langston Hughes Papers, and Walter Francis White and Poppy Cannon White Correspondence.

Images: J.E. Spingarn; charcoal drawing of Zora Neale Hurston by Amy Spingarn

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