Projects & Collections


Chinua Achebe Papers

Manuscripts of Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe’s main publications from Arrow of God (1964) to Anthills of the Savannah (1987) and of a few later occasional writings until 1993; with some publishers’ correspondence. For more information, please contact  Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

James Baldwin Manuscript

Undated typescript of an unfinished play by novelist, playwright, and essayist James Baldwin (1924–1987) titled “The Welcome Table.” The document contains numbering changes, inserted pages, and two different types of paper suggesting various revisions. A central character of the play, Peter Davis, is based on Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Director of the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Shirley Graham Du Bois Papers

Papers of influential artist and activist Shirley Graham Du Bois (1896–1977), the second wife of W. E. B. Du Bois. They include her personal correspondence, private papers, professional work, and photographs. For more information, please contact Schlesinger Library at 617.495.8647.

June Jordan Papers

Papers of June Jordan (1936–2002), author of Kissing God Goodbye, poet, prolific writer, outspoken activist, professor, and champion of equal rights. The bulk of the papers span 1954–2002 and contain biographical material, personal and professional correspondence, notes, drafts of published readings, recordings (mostly audio) of poetry writings, and photographs. For more information, please contact Schlesinger Library at 617.495.8647.

Jamaica Kincaid Papers

Kincaid is a well-known and well-respected novelist and essayist. Early in her writing career, she was hired by William Shawn, the legendary editor of The New Yorker, as a staff writer, then a regular “Talk of the Town” columnist; she was a contributor for some 20 years. She has published five novels, five non-fiction books, a children’s book, and numerous short stories and essays. The archive includes manuscripts and working drafts or all her books through her most recent novel, See Now Then (2013); journals and notebooks; voluminous correspondence; photographs and family documents; digital media; and copies of all her books and magazine appearances. The archive documents not only Kincaid’s life as a writer, but her perspective as a Caribbean immigrant and working woman, and is an important addition to Houghton’s collection of American literary archives. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Juan Latino Papers

Juan Latino, 1518?–1596. Ad catholicvm, et invictissimvm Philippvm Dei gratia Hispaniarum regem, de augusta, memorabili, simul & catholica regalium corporum ex varijs tumulis in vnum regale templum translatione . . . epigrãmatum siue epitaphiorum, libri duo per magistrum Ioannem Latinum Garnatae adolesctiae moderatorem . . . [Granada, 1576]. Houghton Library.

     The son of a black slave, Juan Latino was educated along with his master’s son, and soon demonstrated his precocious talent, receiving a degree from the University of Granada at the age of 28. He went on to teach at the Cathedral School in Granada for 20 years. Famous for his epic Latin poems, in which he reflected on the condition of blacks and disputed any religious justification for slavery of Africans, this is his rare second book of poetry. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Celia and Henry W. McGee III Black Film Poster Collection

This historically rich poster collection, generously underwritten by Celia (AB ’73) and Henry W. McGee III (AB ’74, MBA ’79), highlights the African American experience as it has been cinematically captured by such silent films as The Crimson Skull and Black Gold, Blaxploitation cult favorites Sweet Sweetback’s Baadaasssss SongShaft, and Friday Foster, as well as popular musicals like The Wiz and Sparkle. Located at the Hutchins Center, 617.495.8508.

Albert Murray Papers

This collection comprises the papers of Albert Murray, noted cultural critic and co-founder of Jazz at Lincoln Center. Papers include his writings, notes, and correspondence with Ralph Ellison. Part of this collection was published in 2000 as Trading Twelves: The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Suzan-Lori Parks Papers

The papers of Suzan-Lori Parks (2001 recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play Topdog/Underdog) include manuscripts of her writings and some correspondence. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Roscoe Simmons Collection

The Roscoe Simmons Collection is a rich archive of papers, sound recordings, and memorabilia collected by highly esteemed political strategist and journalist, Roscoe Conkling Simmons (1878–1951). The first African American columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a staunch Republican, Simmons was often consulted and enlisted on matters related to the African American community by Presidents Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert Hoover. Items in this collection include Simmons’s personal correspondence with the Republican National Committee, documentation during World War I of African, African American, and Asian soldiers, as well as copies of rare African American periodicals like The Blue Helmet. For more information, please contact the Harvard Archives at 617.495.2461.

Wole Soyinka Papers

The papers of Wole Soyinka, 1986 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature, includes manuscripts, correspondence, and records of his human rights activities, as well as “Prison Diary” typescripts (notes penned between the lines of printed books while he was incarcerated) and Union of Writers of the African Peoples materials. For more information, please contact Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.

Randy Weston Collection

In 2015–16, the Jazz Research Initiative in collaboration with the Hutchins Center, Loeb Music Library, the Harvard College Library, and the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences acquired the archives of pianist and composer Randy Weston. Weston’s archive offers a rare glimpse into the world of the artist, ambassador, and businessman. The documentation of Weston’s life comes in all forms and from every period of his prolific career, creating a study in both the cultural history of America in the mid-1950s and the inner workings of a musical master. The impressively comprehensive archive contains hundreds of manuscripts, scores, videos, films, photographs, and more than 1,000 tape recordings. For more information, please contact the Loeb Music Library at 617.495.2794.

John Edgar Wideman Papers

This collection of author John Edgar Wideman’s papers includes manuscripts of his novels, short stories and articles, extensive research files for his memoir, and correspondence. For more information, please contact Houghton Library at 617.495.2449.