African American Studies at Beinecke Library

New Exhibition: Living Portraits

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on April 17, 2009

Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten’s Color Photographs of African Americans, 1939-1964 features some 140 never-before-exhibited color photographs by Carl Van Vechten. Van Vechten (1880-1964) had an artistic vision rooted in the centrality of the talented person. He cherished accomplishment, whether in music, dance, theater, fine art, literature, sport, or advocacy.

He began to make photographic portraits in 1932; in 1939 he discovered newly available color film. For a quarter century, he invited friends and acquaintances, well-known artists and fledgling entertainers to sit for him, often against backdrops reminiscent of the vivid colors and patterns of a Matisse painting. Among his subjects were a very young Diahann Carroll, Billie Holiday in tears, Paul Robeson as Othello, and a procession of opera stars, composers, authors, musicians, and others who made notable contributions to the cultural life of the country. The exhibition includes 140 full-sized portraits, digitally reformatted from Van Vechten’s original slides. [ca. 140 items]
Selected images from the Carl Van Vechten Photograph Collection

Living Portraits: Carl Van Vechten’s Color Photographs of African Americans, 1939-1964 is on view from April 30 through June 30, 2009. For more information: 203-432-2969

Images above: Diahann CarrollPaul Robeson , Billie Holiday, and Pearl Bailey photographed by Carl Van Vechten. Photographs by Carl Van Vechten are used with permission of the Van Vechten Trust; the permission of the Trust is required to reprint or use Van Vechten photographs in any way. To contact the Trust email: Van Vechten Trust.

Cabinet of (Poetry) Curiosities

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on April 4, 2009

In honor of National Poetry Month, throughout April the Beinecke Library’s Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities will feature poetry-related collection materials from the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters and the Yale Collection of American Literature. Stop by often–new posts will be added twice a week.

Image: Langston Hughes: The Weary Blues, JWJ Zan H874 926w

In Memoriam

Posted in Beinecke Collections, Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on January 7, 2009

Eartha Kitt (January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008), photographed by Carl Van Vechten on October 19, 1954.

Additional images of Eartha Kitt are available in the Beinecke’s Digital Collections. Photographs by Carl Van Vechten are used with permission of the Van Vechten Trust; the permission of the Trust is required to reprint or use Van Vechten photographs in any way. To contact the Trust email: Van Vechten Trust.

Yale Poet Elizabeth Alexander to Read at Obama Inauguration Ceremony

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on December 17, 2008

The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced today that Yale poet and professor Elizabeth Alexander will read at the swearing in of President-elect Barack Obama on January 20th. The Washington Post quotes Alexander:  “I am obviously profoundly honored and thrilled. . . . Not only to have a chance to have some small part of this extraordinary moment in American history. . . . This incoming president of ours has shown in every act that words matter, that words carry meaning, that words carry power, that words are the medium with which we communicate across difference, and that words have tremendous possibilities and those possibilities are not empty.” Alexander recently discussed Barack Obama and American poetry on a Poetry Foundation podcast.

Elizabeth Alexander is the author of collections of poetry, including American Sublime (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Antebellum Dream Book, Body of Life, and The Venus Hottentot. A collection of essays, The Black Interior, was published by Graywolf in 2004.  She is a professor in the African American Studies Program and the Department of English at Yale University. For more information about Alexander and her work visit: http://www.elizabethalexander.net/home.html.

Lucille Clifton Poetry Reading

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on November 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 2, 5:30pm
Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street
(NOTE: this event will not take place
at Beinecke Library)

Co-sponsored by the Yale Collection
of American Literature Reading Series
and New Ideas in African American Studies

Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Please join us for a poetry reading by Lucille Clifton on Tuesday, December 2, 5:30pm at the Yale Center for British Art, 1080 Chapel Street. This event is co-sponsored by the Yale Collection of American Literature Reading Series and New Ideas in African American Studies; the reading is free and open to the public. For additional information about poetry at the Beinecke Library visit: http://beineckepoetry.wordpress.com/.

Lucille Clifton is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Good News About the Earth, An Ordinary Woman, Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980, The Book of Light, Quilting: Poems 1987-1990, Next: New Poems, and Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988-2000. She has been awarded the National Book Award, the University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prize, an Emmy Award from the American Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a Lannan Literary Award, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Shelley Memorial Award, and the Ruth Lilly Prize.

For more information about Lucille Clifton and examples of her work visit:

http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/79

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=1304

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucille_Clifton

Podcast Interview with Clifton: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/audioitem.html?id=110

Beinecke Image Guides

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on November 10, 2008


The Beinecke Library is pleased to announce the addition of browseable image “collections” to our Digital Library. The collections have been selected from across our digitized images and each is introduced by a brief essay contributed by Beinecke and Yale University Library staff, curators, selectors, Yale faculty and students.Within each collection you will find Also new is the ability to search within a collection, to find related collections, and in many cases, to links to Orbis records. New collections will be added weekly, revealing the diversity of materials – ancient papyri, illuminated manuscripts, photographs, illustrations, and correspondence across the centuries – that pass through the Beinecke’s digital imaging studio. Subscribe to our new rss feed to receive collection updates. Recently posted collections include: Drawings of the Amistad Prisoners, New Haven; The Black Panthers Trial: Courtroom Sketches by Robert Templeton; and Images from the Randolph Linsly Simpson African-American collection.

The Digital Library is a growing database, with over 170,000 scans and with roughly 1,800 images added each week. To search the collection, visit: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/ .

Image: Portrait from the Simpson Collection.

Richard Wright, Native Son, and the Beinecke

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on October 29, 2008

The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at the Beinecke Library is pleased to announce a new podcast: Richard Wright, Native Son, and the Beinecke: Being Brought to My Senses. Jonathan Holloway, Yale Professor of History, African American Studies, and American Studies recounts visiting the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library in his first month of graduate school and the transformative experience that grew out of his surprise encounter with Richard Wright’s landmark text, Native Son. (7:27)

You can listen to and download this podcast free via the Beinecke’s Blogs & Podcasts page and through Yale’s iTunesU web site.

Information about the Richard Wright Papers at the Beinecke Library and related collections can be found online by searching the Library’s Finding Aid Database. Images from the archive are available through the Beinecke’s Digital Library.

Historian Jonathan Holloway is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941, the editor of Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership, and the co-editor of the anthology, Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century. He is a professor of History at Yale University and in 2005 he became the eleventh master of Calhoun College, one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges.

Images: Photograph of Richard Wright;page from manuscript draft of Wright’s of Native Son.

A Celebration of New Writing

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on October 13, 2008

Young African American Poets: A Celebration of New Writing
Poetry Readings by Evie Shockly, Douglas Kearney,

and Amaud Jamal Johnson

Tuesday, October 28, 4pm
Slifka Center , 80 Wall Street (NOTE: this event will not take place at Beinecke Library)
Co-sponsored by the Yale Collection of American Literature
Reading Series and New Ideas in African American Studies
Contact: nancy.kuhl@yale.edu

Evie Shockley is the author of a chapbook, The Gorgon Goddess (2001), and the collection a half-red sea (2006). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Fascicle, Hambone, HOW2, and Rainbow Darkness: An Anthology of African American Poetry, and other journals and anthologies. She is an assistant professor of English at Rutgers University. Douglas Kearney is a poet, performer, and teacher. His work has appeared in Callaloo, jubilat, Ninth Letter, and other journals. His first full-length collection of poetry, Fear, Some, was published in October 2006. Amaud Jamaul Johnson is a former Wallace E. Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. His poems have appeared in New England Review, Poetry Daily, From the Fishouse, and other journals. He teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His first book, Red Summer, was the winner of the 2004 Dorset Prize from Tupelo Press.

Yale University Collection Guides

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on September 24, 2008

Guides to Yale University’s extensive collections of research materials related to international Modernism and African American studies are now available from the Yale University Art Gallery (to request copies please contact Christopher Gartrell: christopher.gartrell@yale.edu).

Yale University Collections Guide: Modernism directs students and scholars to collections documenting the work, lives, and communities of writers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, architects, editors, curators, and tastemakers. The Guide features the work of key figures including (but not limited to): James Joyce, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Joseph Conrad, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe, Wassily Kandinsky, Florine Stettheimer, Josef Albers, Eero Saarinen, Virgil Thomson, Paul Hindemith, Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya.

Yale University Collections Guide: African American Studies highlights the rich collections at Yale documenting the African American experience, from materials documenting the sale trade to the work of modern and contemporary African American writers and artists. Materials in Yale collections address subjects including slavery and emancipation, Abolitionist movements, the American Civil War, the Harlem Renaissance, the Civil Rights Movement, and the work of African Americans in all art forms, including literature, fine art, theater, and music. Key figures represented in the Yale collections include (but are not limited to): the Amistad prisoners, Isaac Mendes Belisario, Phillis Wheatley, the Beecher Family, Hannah Crafts, Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Anson Phelps Stokes, James Vander Zee, Benny Goodman, Masood Ali Wilbert Warren, Richard Wright, Romare Bearden, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weams, and Lloyd Richards.

The Guides highlight primary source materials in the Yale galleries and libraries including manuscripts, correspondence, works of art, books, journals, photographs. The Guides provide useful information about accessing Yale collections on campus and online; lists of online resources includes the following.

Yale Collections Online Resources:

Yale University Library: http://www.library.yale.edu

Digital Cross-Collections Search: http://www.library.yale.edu/libraries/digcoll.html

Orbis, the Yale University Library Catalogue: http://orbis.library.yale.edu

Finding Aid Database: http://webtext.library.yale.edu/finddocs

Beinecke Library: http://www.library.yale.edu/beinecke

African American Studies at Beinecke Library: https://beineckejwj.wordpress.com

Let it Resound: Sheet Music in the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection: http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/LetItResound

Irving S. Gilmore Music Library: http://www.library.yale.edu/musiclib

Oral History, American Music: http://www.yale.edu/oham

Lewis Walpole Library: http://www.library.yale.edu/walpole

Manuscripts and Archives: http://www.library.yale.edu/mssa

Yale University Art Gallery: http://artgallery.yale.edu

Yale Center for British Art: http://ycba.yale.edu

Images: The Prodigal Son by Aaron Douglas; “Details, An American Place (O’Keeffe paintings)” photographed by Alfred Stieglitz; Jessie Fauset, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston at Tuskegee;Jean Coctaeu photographed by Berenice Abbott.

Celebrating Richard Wright

Posted in Uncategorized by beineckepoetry on September 10, 2008

The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at the Beinecke Library will cosponsor a centenary celebration of Richard Wright’s writing and life on September 23, 2008, from 4-6 pm in the lecture hall at the Whitney Humanities Center, 53 Wall Street, New Haven. The event is cosponsored by the Whitney Humanities Center, the African American Studies Program, New Ideas in African American Studies, Calhoun College, and the Department of English.

The event will include readings and talks by distinguished guests Ishmael Reed and Darryl Pinckney, and Yale University faculty members including Caryl Phillips, Jonathan Holloway, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Facsimile documents from the Richard Wright Papers at the Beinecke Library will be on display at the Whitney Humanities Center for the event.

Ishmael Reed is the author of nine novels, six books of poetry, four books of essays and six plays. The collected plays will be published in 2009 by Dalkey Archives. His latest book is “Mixing It Up, Taking On The Media Bullies.” He was named Blues Song Writer of the year in 2008 by The West Coast Blues Hall of Fame for his song, recorded by Jazz Diva, Cassandra Wilson,”The Prophet of Doom.” He is the publisher of Konch, and makes his debut as a Jazz pianist on the CD “For All We Know” The Ishmael Reed Quintet. He is a Yale Calhoun Fellow.

Novelist and literary critic Darryl Pinckney is the author of the acclaimed novel High Cotton and Sold and Gone, a study of African American literary history. Pinckney has been awarded the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for fiction and the Harold D. Vursell Award for Distinguished Prose from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Award winning writer and dramatist Caryl Phillips is the author of plays including Strange Fruit (1980), Where There is Darkness (1982) and The Shelter (1983). His novels include The Final Passage (1985), A State of Independence (1986), The Nature of Blood (1997), A Distant Shore (2003) and Dancing in the Dark (2005). His non-fiction works include The European Tribe (1987), The Atlantic Sound (2000), and A New World Order (2001). He is Professor of English at Yale University.

Elizabeth Alexander is the author of several collections of poetry, including American Sublime (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), Antebellum Dream Book, Body of Life, and The Venus Hottentot. A collection of essays, The Black Interior, was published by Graywolf in 2004. She is a professor in the African American Studies Program and the Department of English at Yale University.

Historian Jonathan Holloway is the author of Confronting the Veil: Abram Harris Jr., E. Franklin Frazier, and Ralph Bunche, 1919-1941, the editor of Ralph Bunche’s A Brief and Tentative Analysis of Negro Leadership, and the co-editor of the anthology, Black Scholars on the Line: Race, Social Science, and American Thought in the 20th Century. He is a professor of History at Yale University and in 2005 he became the eleventh master of Calhoun College, one of Yale’s twelve residential colleges.

Image: Photograph of Richard Wright.