Special Collections & University Archives University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries

Results for: “African-American theater” (352 collections)
SCUA

African American history

Founders of the Niagara Movement, ca.1905
Founders of the Niagara Movement,
ca.1905

The acquisition of the papers of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1972 established SCUA as a center for research in African American history. In subsequent years, the University of Massachusetts has supported the publication of three volumes of Dr. Du Bois’ correspondence and SCUA has served as a resource for many dozens of scholarly articles and books on Du Bois and his legacy. SCUA has also made efforts to build around the Du Bois collection, adding other important printed and manuscript materials both in African American history and in the history of efforts to promote social change.

Beyond Du Bois, significant collections in African American history include the papers of the abolitionist Hudson Family of Northampton, the expatriate playwright Gordon Heath, the sociologist, educator, and former president of Lincoln University, Horace Mann Bond.

Each February, in commemoration of Dr. Du Bois’s birthday, SCUA and the Du Bois Department of Afro-Americans Studies at UMass co-sponsor a colloquium on Du Bois and his legacy. Our lecturers have included distinguished scholars such as Herbert Aptheker, Randolph Bromery, Clayborne Carson, and David Levering Lewis.

Significant collections

Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991

Gordon Heath Papers, 1913-1992.
44 boxes (22.75 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 372 and 372 bd

Gordon Heath, Paris
Gordon Heath, Paris

African American expatriate, stage and film actor, musician, director, producer, founder of the Studio Theater of Paris and co-owner of the nightclub L’Abbaye. Includes personal and professional correspondence, scrapbooks containing photos and clippings from assorted television and film productions in addition to songs, poetry, and reviews of plays or playbills from productions he attended.

The Papers also contain art work, sheet music, personal and production photographs, and drafts of his memoirs.

Subjects
  • Abbaye (Nightclub : Paris, France)
  • African American actors--France--Paris--History
  • African American singers--France--Paris--History
  • African Americans in the performing arts--History
  • African-American theater--History--20th century
  • Baldwin, James, 1924-
  • Chametzky, Jules
  • Dodson, Owen, 1914-
  • Expatriate musicians--France--Paris--History
  • Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
  • Musicians--United States--History
  • Nightclubs--France--Paris--History
  • Paris (France)--Intellectual life--20th century
  • Payant, Lee--Correspondence
  • Primus, Pearl
  • Rive gauche (Paris, France)--Intellectual life--20th century
  • Studio Theater of Paris
  • Theater--Production and direction--France--Paris--History
Contributors
  • Abramson, Doris E
  • Heath, Gordon, 1918-1991
Types of material
  • Photographs
  • Scrapbooks
  • Scripts
  • Sheet music
  • Sketches

Tillis, Frederick, 1930-

Frederick Tillis Papers, 1970-2010.
Call no.: FS 156

Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977
Fred Tillis, Nov. 23, 1977

A composer, performer, poet, educator, and arts administrator, Fred Tillis was one of the major influences on the cultural life at UMass Amherst for forty years. Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1930, Tillis began playing jazz trumpet and saxophone even before his teens. A product of segregated schools, he graduated from Wiley College at the age of 19, and received his MA and PhD in music at the University of Iowa. As a performer and composer of unusual breadth, his work spans both the jazz and European traditions, and he has written for piano and voice, orchestra, choral pieces, chamber music, and in the African American spiritual tradition, drawing upon a wide range of cultural references. After teaching at Wiley, Grambling, and Kentucky State in the 1960s, Tillis was recruited to UMass in 1970 by his former adviser at Iowa, Philip Bezanson, to teach music composition and theory. Earning promotion to Professor in 1973, Tillis was appointed Director of the Fine Arts Center in 1978, helping to jump start some of the most successful arts initiatives the university has seen, including the the Afro American Music and Jazz program, the New World Theater, Augusta Savage Gallery, Asian Arts and Culture Program, and Jazz in July. Upon retirement from UMass in 1997, he was appointed Emeritus Director of the Fine Arts and remains active as a musician and poet.

The Tillis papers document an extraordinary career in the arts, focused on Fred Tillis’s work as a composer. Consisting primarily of musical scores along with an assortment of professional correspondence relating to his publishing and miscellaneous notes, the collection offers insight into the evolution of Tillis’s musical vision from the 1970s into the new millennium.

Subjects
  • African American composers
  • African American musicians
  • Fine Arts Center (University of Massachusetts Amherst)
  • Jazz
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Music and Dance
Contributors
  • Tillis, Frederick, 1930-
Types of material
  • Scores

Abramson, Doris E.

Doris E. Abramson Papers, ca.1930-2007.
(25 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 127

Doris Abramson
Doris Abramson

After earning her masters degree from Smith College in 1951, Doris Abramson (class of 1949) returned to UMass in 1953 to become instructor in the English Department, remaining at her alma mater through a long and productive career. An historian of theatre and poet, she was a founding member of the Speech Department, Theatre Department, and the Massachusetts Review. In 1959, a Danforth grant helped Abramson pursue doctoral work at Columbia. Published in 1969, her dissertation, Negro Playwrights in the American Theatre, 1925-1969, was a pioneering work in the field. After her retirement, she and her partner of more than 40 years, Dorothy Johnson, ran the Common Reader Bookshop in New Salem.

An extensive collection covering her entire career, Abramson’s papers are a valuable record of the performing arts at UMass, her research on African American playwrights, her teaching and directing, and many other topics relating to her diverse interests in literature and the arts.

Subjects
  • African-American theater
  • Poets--Massachusetts
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Theater
Contributors
  • Abramson, Doris E.

Gordon, Ann

Ann Gordon Papers, 1986-1989.
1 box (0.5 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 016

Ann Gordon served as the editor of the Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton papers as a member of African American Studies department from 1982 until the project’s conclusion in 1989. While at the University, Gordon, along with John Bracey, Joyce Berkman, and Arlene Avakian planned a conference discussing the history of African American Women voting from the Cady Stanton’s meeting at Seneca Falls to the Voting Rights Act. The conference, called the African American Women and the Vote Conference, was held in 1988.

The collection is comprised of proposals, reports, meeting transcripts, and correspondence from Gordon’s work planning the 1988 African American Women and the Vote Conference. Also included is preliminary work by Gordon to organize the papers given at the conference into book form.

Subjects
  • African American women
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies
Contributors
  • Gordon, Ann

Kaplan, Sidney, 1913-

Sidney and Emma Nogrady Kaplan Papers, ca.1937-1993.
58 boxes (85 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 149

Sidney Kaplan, May 1972
Sidney Kaplan, May 1972

An eminent scholar of African American history and activist, Sidney Kaplan was raised in New York City and graduated from City College in 1942. After wartime service as a Lieutenant in the Army, Kaplan returned to his education, completing an MA in history from Boston University (1948) and PhD at Harvard (1960), taking up the study of African American history at a time when few white scholars showed interest. Joining the English Department at UMass in 1946, Kaplan’s influence was widely felt at UMass Amherst and in the local community: he was among the founders of the Department of Afro-American Studies, a founder of the UMass Press, a founder and editor of the Massachusetts Review, and he was the editor of Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press. Over more than thirty years at UMass, he worked on diverse projects in history, literature, and the arts, often in partnership with his wife Emma Nogrady, a librarian at Smith College whom he married in 1933, ranging from studies of Poe and Melville to a biographical dictionary of African Americans and a study of Shays’ Rebellion. In 1973, they were co-authors of the first comprehensive study of depictions of African Americans in the visual arts, The Black Presence in the Era of the American Revolution (based on an exhibition planned for the National Portrait Gallery), and in 1991, the UMass Press published a collection of Sidney’s essays, American Studies in Black and White. A Fulbright lecturer in Greece and Yugoslavia and exchange Professor at the University of Kent, Kaplan was the recipient of the Bancroft Award from the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History for best article of the year in the Journal of Negro History, and he was awarded the UMass Amherst Chancellor’s Medal in 1979, one year after his retirement. Sidney Kaplan died in 1993 at age 80 and was followed by Emma in 2010.

The Kaplan Papers document a long career devoted to the study of African American history and life. The extensive correspondence, research notes, and drafts of articles and other materials offer important insight into the growth of African American studies from the 1950s through 1970s as well as the growth of UMass Amherst into a major research university.

Subjects
  • African Americans--History
  • Massachusetts Review
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of Afro-American Studies
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Department of English
  • University of Massachusetts Press
Contributors
  • Kaplan, Emma Nogrady, 1911-
  • Kaplan, Sidney, 1913-

New WORLD Theater

New WORLD Theater Records, 1979-2010.
41 boxes (61.5 linear feet).
Call no.: RG 25/F2/N4

Photo by Edward Cohen, 2002
Photo by Edward Cohen, 2002

New WORLD Theater was founded at UMass Amherst in 1979 by Roberta Uno with the mission of presenting innovative works of theater by contemporary artists of color, with the goal of fostering creative communities, promoting cultural equity, and embracing diverse cultural backgrounds, social engagement, and a commitment to justice. For more than thirty years New WORLD Theater produced many dozens of plays and other dramatic works representing new voices in the theater, as well as plays from the traditional multicultural repertory, and they have supported the arts through performance residencies, conferences and colloquia, and a variety of initiatives aimed at the diverse communities they serve, youth, and theater professionals. New WORLD Theater has contributed significantly to national conversations on cultural equity. After more than three decades of acclaim and recognition, New WORLD Theater was closed by UMass Amherst in summer 2010.

The bulk of the New WORLD Theater collection consists of administrative records documenting the day-to-day activities of the theater, however, it also contains an extensive and exceptionally rich archive of taped interviews, conferences, and theatrical productions. Taken together, the audiovisual material traces the history of New WORLD through the words and performances of artists who both contributed to and benefited from the theater.

Subjects
  • African Americans--Drama
  • American drama--Minority authors
  • Asian Americans--Drama
  • Ethnic groups--United States--Drama
  • Hispanic Americans--Drama
  • Minorities--United States--Drama
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
Contributors
  • New WORLD Theater
  • Page, Priscilla
  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Sound recordings

Uno, Roberta

Roberta Uno Collection of Asian American Women Playwrights' Scripts, 1924-2005.
25 boxes (9 linear feet).
Call no.: MS 345

Coconut masquerade postcard
Coconut masquerade postcard

Roberta Uno was the founder and long time artistic director of the New WORLD Theater at UMass Amherst, a theater in residence dedicated to the production of works by playwrights of color.

Established by Uno in 1993, the Asian American Women Playwrights Scripts Collection contains manuscripts of plays, but also production histories, reviews, and articles, along with biographies and audio and videotaped interviews with playwrights. Among the individuals represented are Brenda Wong Aoki, Jeannie Barroga, Marina Feleo Gonzales, Jessica Hagedorn, Velina Hasu Houston, Genny Lim, le thi diem thuy, Ling-Ai Li, Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl, Nobuko Miyamoto, Bina Sharif, and Diana Son.

Subjects
  • Asian American women authors
  • New WORLD Theater
  • Playwrights
Contributors
  • Uno, Roberta, 1956-
Types of material
  • Scripts (Documents)

Allen, Dwight William, 1931-

Dwight William Allen Papers, 1967-1975.
10 boxes (15 linear feet).
Call no.: FS 165

Dwight Allen in classroom
Dwight Allen in classroom

A influential and flamboyant educational reformer, Dwight W. Allen served as Director of Teacher Education at his alma mater Stanford from 1959 until accepting a position as Dean of the School of Education at UMass Amherst in 1967. A proponent of integrating technology into teaching and co-developer of the technique of microteaching, Allen cemented his reputation as an innovator during his time at UMass (1968-1975), a time that coincided with the rapid expansion of the university. Allen helped recruit students of color to the graduate program in significant numbers, opened admissions to students with unconvential credentials, allowed students a voice in directing and governing the program, and abolished grading, among other initiatives, but while supporters lauded the creativity and excitement of the period, his radical ideas elicited considerable opposition as well. He resigned in 1975, in part due to the increasing demands his international consulting, later accepting a position at Old Dominion University, where he remained until his retirement in 2008. Allen is author of nine books, including American Schools: The $100 Billion Challenge, written with his former graduate student Bill Cosby.

The Allen papers contain a wealth of materials pertaining to the tumultuous years at UMass, including Allen’s curricular and teaching reforms, special projects, and his efforts to recruit African American students and address institutional racism. The correspondence, memos, and private reports that Allen maintained are particularly valuable for understanding the period as are the various surveys, studies, and reports on the state of the School of Education. The collection also includes material relating to some of Allen’s academic interests in education, including microteaching, alternative schools, and certification.

Subjects
  • Alternative education
  • Educational change
  • Racism in education
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Faculty
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. School of Education

Antislavery

Antislavery Collection, 1725-1911.
(7.5 linear feet).
Call no.: Rare Book Collections

The Antislavery Collection contains several hundred printed pamphlets and books pertaining to slavery and antislavery in New England, 1725-1911. The holdings include speeches, sermons, proceedings and other publications of organizations such as the American Anti-Slavery Society and the American Colonization Society, and a small number of pro-slavery tracts.

Subjects
  • Abolitionists--Massachusetts
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Slavery--United States
Contributors
  • American Anti-Slavery Society
  • American Colonization Society
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