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Carl Van Vechten Collection of African-American Arts & Letters, 1853-2004

Identifier: Series 1

Scope and Contents

Photographs, sheet music, playbills, prints, publications, sound recordings, programs, souvenir books, correspondence, drawings, broadsides, articles, ephemera, manuscripts, and journal issues relating to the theater, music, dance, and literature. The photographic portion of the collection consists primarily of Carl Van Vechten's portraits of influential actors, writers, and artists of the New York stage. Amongst the photographic prints are rare portraits of notable African American authors, entertainers, and a few athletes. The collection also includes drawings, prints, and published works illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias. Amongst the notable items in the collection related to African Americans and their place in American society and culture are correspondence and legal documents dealing with to the purchase of slaves (1823-1828), broadsides depicting African Americans, published works, correspondence and typescripts by Langston Hughes, and issues of periodicals published by members of the African American community. Sound recordings of jazz performances by such notables as Fats Waller, Ethel Waters, and Bessie Smith are also included in the collection.


  • 1853-2004


Conditions Governing Access

Archives and Special Collections of Ganser Library will reproduce Special Collections material to the extent that physical condition and copyright or other legal restrictions permit. Reproduction is available in the form of photocopies and digital images. All reproduction requests must be approved by a member of the professional staff. Decisions will take into account the type and condition of the binding, the brittleness of the paper, the size and the general size and fragility of the item.


12 boxes (Carl Van Vechten Collection of African-American Arts & Letters)

Language of Materials