African American Studies at Beinecke Library

The Van Vechten Paradox

Posted in African American Studies at Yale, Beinecke Collections, Events, Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on May 26, 2009

The Van Vechten Paradox:
The Harlem Renaissance, A White Man, and His Black Story

a lecture by James Weldon Johnson Fellow Emily Bernard
Monday, June 1, 4:00PM
on the Beinecke mezzanine, 121 Wall Street, New Haven

Please join us for a final parting lecture given by Emily Bernard, the James Weldon Johnson Senior Research Fellow at the Beinecke Library.

Carl Van Vechten was a best-selling novelist, consummate host, exhaustive archivist, prescient photographer, and negrophile bar none.  The chronicle of his catholic accomplishments is housed within the walls of the Beinecke library.  At the heart of this chronicle is a tale about blackness. Van Vechten was a promoter of black culture during the era known as the Harlem Renaissance, and beyond.  The Harlem Renaissance was a black movement, but it needed whiteness in order to thrive.  Carl Van Vechten embodied that necessary whiteness in ways that were multiple, fascinating, and contradictory.

Emily Bernard, Associate Professor of English and ALANA U. S. Ethnic Studies at the University of Vermont, is the 2008-2009 James Weldon Johnson Fellow at the Beinecke Library. Professor Bernard has edited two books; Remember Me to Harlem: The Letters of Langston Hughes and Carl Van Vechten (2001) was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Some of My Best Friends: Writers on Interracial Friendship (2004) was chosen by the New York Public Library for its Book for the Teen Age 2006 list. Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays, Best African American Essays, and Best of Creative Non-Fiction. During the 2008-09 academic year, Professor Bernard has been conducting research at the Beinecke Library for an upcoming book tentatively entitled, The Van Vechten Paradox:  Blackness, Whiteness, and the Harlem Renaissance. The book will cast new light on the dynamic between Van Vechten, a controversial white patron of African American arts communities, and his black friends and protégés during the 1920s and beyond, including Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Nella Larsen. The Van Vechten Paradox is scheduled to be published by Yale University Press in 2009.

The annual James Weldon Johnson Fellowship in African American Studies was established in 2008. This fellowship is designed to permit outstanding scholars to devote a full academic year in residence at Yale University to research and writing in connection with the James Weldon Johnson Collection in the Beinecke Library.  For more information about this fellowship and the James Weldon Johnson collection, please check out these links:

James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at Beinecke Library;
African American Studies at Yale;
Emily Bernard, UVM Faculty Page;

Image: Carl Van Vechten with magnifying glass

New Beinecke Library Shelving Facility

Posted in announcements, Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on May 19, 2009

As part of its ongoing commitment to improve research capabilities by increasing and preserving its collections, the Beinecke Library has created a state-of-the-art off-site shelving facility to house our growing manuscript and book collections. As a result, some collections now housed off-site must be paged at least 24 hours in advance for use in the Library’s reading room. Collections housed in the new shelving facility will be identified in Orbis, the Library’s catalog, with the following information “LSF-Request for Use at Beinecke Rare Book Library.” Requests must be made with the Beinecke Library Access Services Department by email to .  Please be sure to include the call number, author and title of the item(s) you wish to view and include in the subject line of your email, “LSF request.”  Contact the Access Services Desk for more information: 203-432-2972 or

Image:  Photograph of Beinecke Library under construction. Additional photos of the Library’s construction can be viewed here: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Construction Photographs, 1961-1963.

New Hours at Beinekce Library

Posted in announcements, Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on May 6, 2009

New Reading Room Hours, Effective June 1, 2009
Mondays – Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Fridays 9:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.

New Exhibition Gallery Hours, Effective June 1, 2009
Mondays – Thursdays 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Fridays 9:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.
Saturdays 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Image: David Plowden, Sidewalk Clock, 1963; from the David Plowden Papers (call number: WA Plowden)