May 2013

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From the Director

New Collection Adds to Richmond Barthe Scholarship

Carole J.L. Collins Papers Document Career in Activism

Finding Aid for ACOA Addendum Now Online

Interns Gain Experience While Assisting Center

Students Visit Amistad Exhibition

Chicago Friends Host Archival Workshop


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From the Director

As the Amistad Research Center and its staff approach mid-year, we have occasion to reflect upon the completion of established goals and those yet to be fulfilled. During this time of year, we also reflect on successful collaborations and joint opportunities. This issue of e-Amistad Reports reveals a number of triumphs, from significant new acquisitions to mentoring young archivists, to aiding in the education of inquisitive students. As Amistad moves forward in the year, we also look toward the work ahead -- new exhibitions, the processing and preservation of archival collections, programming and public outreach, and more.  


Amistad has become a victim of its own tremendous successes. We continue to attract new collections, gain additions to existing collections, and host larger numbers of scholars from around the world and students from around the corner. We promise donors to preserve significant historical papers under excellent archival conditions and make them readily accessible to the general public. If we are to fulfill those promises, as well as continue educational and cultural activities in which Amistad's collections are featured, we must gain increasing support from friends, patrons, and natural constituents.  


The support of far-sighted individuals, corporations, and foundations assist the Center in meeting its goals and challenges. We remind e-Amistad Reports' dedicated readers of opportunities for donating to the Center through matching gift programs, deferred gifts, and other estate planning options. An easy first step is to simply click the "Make a Donation" button found under this issue's contents listing and pledge your support today. By doing so, you provide the Center with the means to continue reporting successes like those listed below.      
Executive Director
Lee Hampton
New Collection Adds to Richmond Barthe Scholarship
Life in Sculpture cover
Barthe: A Life in Sculpture
The Center's holdings on artist Richmond Barthe have expanded thanks to a recent donation by artist, historian, and author Dr. Margaret Rose Vendryes. Dr. Vendryes has donated her research files on Barthe, which were used to write her 2008 book on the artist, Barthe: A Life in Sculpture. The research files join an extensive collection of Barthe's  personal papers, already housed at Amistad.


The Margaret Rose Vendryes collection dates from 1949-2008 and measures 2.8 linear feet. The majority of the collection consists of photocopied documents and photographic prints gathered by Vendryes as part of her research. Bibliographic and source files contain information on various libraries, museums, and archives with Barthe-related holdings, as well as biographical files on Barthe related to his education and career. Topical files include Vendryes' research on themes related to Barthe's work, such as Harlem, race, homosexuality, Creoles, etc. Files focusing on individual works of art by Barthe are also present. Original documents of note in the collection include a series of letters, dated 1949-1980, written by Barthe to his godson, Herschel Shohan, and members of the Shohan family; an undated fairy tale written by Barthe; a copy of Barthe's unpublished autobiography, which he sent to Herschel Shohan; a 1947 portrait of Barthe by Carl Van Vechten; and photographs of Vendryes and Errol Brown in Jamaica in 1994.


The collection will be organized and a finding aid produced in the near future. Meanwhile, the collection is open for use by researchers. A description of the collection can be found here.
Carole J.L. Collins Papers Document Career in Activism
The Collins papers are being unpacked and inventoried.

Due, in part, to its work in organizing the records of the American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund (see article below), the Center recently received 30 linear feet of records documenting the work of activist and writer Carole J.L. Collins. The donation was made by Collin's husband, independent journalist and writer Steve Askin, and facilitated with the help of former ACOA staff member Richard Knight of the African Activist Archive Project.


Carole J.L. Collins was an activist and writer who concentrated her work on global economic justice and apartheid in South Africa. Her writing often appeared in the National Catholic Reporter, where she served as an Africa Correspondent (1985-1986), UN/Diplomatic Correspondent (1991-1992), and a freelance contributor (1970s-1990s), as well as in other publications. Collins was the national coordinator for the Campaign to Oppose Bank Loans to South Africa (COBLSA) from 1981-1983, the National Coordinator of Jubilee 2000/USA in 1998-1999, and held positions in the American Friends Service Committee, the Interfaith Action for Economic Justice, and the Africa Faith and Justice Network. Collins passed away on September 23, 2006. 


A sampling of the books from the Carole J.L. Collins papers. 

The Carole J.L. Collins papers consist of collected research materials in the forms of articles, book chapters, conference and presentation papers, news clippings, press releases and statements, publications, speeches, and reports with occasional correspondence and drafts for works authored by Collins and Steve Askin. The papers mainly focus on the African country of Zaire (1971-1997), its banking and economy, diamond and ivory trade, human rights violations, health and welfare, and military; as well as governmental corruption, the country's relationship to the United States and the Soviet Union, and the political developments that led to the country adopting the name Democratic Republic of the Congo (1998-). The papers also thoroughly document Zaire's President Mobutu Sese Seko, the regime's corruption, and Mobutu's relationships with supporters. The papers also provide documentation regarding civil war and conflict of the Great Lakes region of Africa, which includes the countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania (1990s-2000s). Other topics covered include the First Congo War (1996-1997), the Rwandan genocide (1994), and the Second Congo War (1998-2003).


A more thorough description of the collection can be found in Amistad's online finding aid database. Container lists have been prepared for the collection, which is open to researchers. A number of books received with the collection will be cataloged in Amistad's library collection.


Finding Aid for ACOA Addendum Now Online
The ACOA Addendum
is on the shelves and
ready for researchers.
The Amistad Research Center is pleased to announce that the addendum to the records of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) is now open for research. The full archival arrangement of the American Committee on Africa's records was completed over the course of twelve months, and the archival team has been privileged to work on such a significant and outstanding collection. This project, "Access to Africana Collections: The American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund Records," is designed to feature the records and activities of both organizations, which worked to educate Americans on the legitimacy of African liberation movements and to assist victims of colonial governments in Africa, as well as the emergence of independent African nations. With funding assistance from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Council on Library and Information Resources
(CLIR), Amistad has completed the first part of this three-year archival project.

The American Committee on Africa (ACOA) records addendum consists of 138 linear feet of primary source documentation, dating from 1949 to 2001 and covering the era of Africa's liberation movements against British, Dutch, French, German, and Portuguese colonial powers and their imperialistic policies toward the continent. Researchers will find materials that focus on aspects of both settler and exploitation colonialism, mainly in the African countries of Angola, Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and South Africa. The ACOA records are also very strong in documenting the relationship of the United States with these colonial powers, as well as the government's policies toward the many minority regimes, political parties, and indigenous peoples in the region. The strengths of the records generated by ACOA's many "campaigns" is the documentation not only collected from the continent, but also the reporting and testimony done by the organization on the conditions within Africa and its networking activities within the United States and at the United Nations as part of the anti-apartheid movement of the mid-to-late 20th century.


Topics covered within the collection include: anti-apartheid sanctions; consumer and cultural boycotts, demonstrations, and protests; economic conditions and trade; detention, treatment, and release of African political prisoners; human rights violations throughout Africa; liberation movements and post-independence civil wars; and the United States' policies and legislative actions. Many African political parties and organizations are represented in the records including, Angola's MPLA (People's Movement for Liberation of Angola), FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola); Mozambique's FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique); Guinea Bissau's PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde); Rhodesia's ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union), ZAPU (Zimbabwe People's Union), and UANC (United African National Council); and South Africa's ANC (African National Congress) and PAC (Pan Africanist Congress).


Completion of the ACOA records addendum means that the entirety of the records for the American Committee on Africa are now fully processed and available for research. The finding aids to the ACOA records can be found online in the Amistad Research Center's archival finding aid database.
Interns Gain Experience While Assisting Center
Intern Jennifer Conerly digitizes civil rights ephemera for an online project.

During the spring semester, University of New Orleans (UNO) graduate student Jennifer Conerly assisted the Center with digitization efforts for its proposed civil rights ephemera project and other duties. Jennifer completed her internship during her last semester at UNO as a way of gaining experience in the field of archival work. According to Conerly, "By becoming acquainted with many of the collections at Amistad, I have learned much about American history that I did not know beforehand and I have encountered many historical documents that I never would have known about otherwise. I have decided to continue my relationship with the archive in a volunteer capacity so that I can further my career as an archivist."


Using Amistad's popular 2011 exhibition on civil rights print culture and ephemera as a template, Jennifer's digitization efforts included identifying and scanning flyers, broadsides, promotional booklets, and newsletters from the collections of many prominent civil rights activists, such as Fannie Lou Hamer, John O'Neal, John Lee Tilley, Clarie Collins Harvey, and others. The documents that are now digitized include newsletters and brochures from CORE, SCLC, NAACP, and SNCC; the wanted poster of political activist Angela Davis; flyers raising awareness for black voter registration; and other works that allowed civil rights activists and organizations to spread their messages. The digital project will be uploaded to the Louisiana Digital Library by the end of 2013 and increase researcher access to these historical documents. 
Intern Lorraine Rossi inventories the Marion Palfi Slide Collection.

This summer, the Amistad Research Center is hosting and training graduate intern, Lorraine Rossi, a Master of Applied Social Science (MASS) student at Florida A & M University (FAMU), and an assistant archivist at the Meek-Eaton Black Archives, both located in Tallahassee, Florida. Rossi is inventorying, cataloging, and digitizing a 35-millimeter slide collection and various black and white photographs taken by socially-conscious photographer Marion Palfi.  
Palfi, a German émigré, first settled in New York in 1945 and initially photographed various New York hospitals and neighborhoods, such as Harlem.  In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Palfi took photographs of various American Missionary Association (AMA) schools throughout the South.  She captured the glaring inequalities inherent in the Jim Crow system, most evident in the condition of African American schools as compared to white schools in rural areas.  Palfi, is most widely known for her 1952 book, Suffer Little Children, featuring photographs of children, some living in deplorable conditions, around the United States.

Photographs by Palfi are found in the American Missionary Association archives addenda, the Ruth Morton scrapbook, and the Frederick L. Brownlee papers at Amistad, and the new finding aid for the Marion Palfi slide collection can be found here
Students Visit Amistad Exhibition
Students from the Waldo Burton Memorial School
Amistad's current exhibition, Am I Not a Brother, Am I Not a Sister?: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation, has attracted a number of visitors, particularly youth groups, since it opened in early April. Recently, the Center was pleased to host a small group of outstanding, inquisitive young men from the Waldo Burton Memorial School here in New Orleans. The group, led by teachers Eve Abrams and Seneca Hennrich and principal Matthew Schrenk, included the 6th-8th graders attending the Burton school. Their preparation prior to their visit and their questions about Amistad and its exhibition made for an enjoyable morning visit. In addition to touring the exhibition, the group spent time surveying Amistad's Comics and Graphic Novels Collection, which based on the students' responses, may have been the highlight of their visit!

The exhibition is currently running through June 28. Groups interested in contacting the Center for tours of the exhibition can call (504) 862-3222.
Chicago Friends Host Archival Workshop

The Chicago Friends of the Amistad Research Center recently hosted a church archival training workshop at the West Pullman Branch Library, 830 W. 119th Street, Chicago, IL. Lisa Calahan, Archivist with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, was on hand to assist with the presentation of "The Church as a Preserver of Our History and Protector of Our Heritage." Principles and procedures for establishing a church archive and preserving valuable church and community historical documents were discussed. Ms. Willie Lee Hart, President of the Friends organization, was "pleased with the number of church representatives that attended the meeting," and referred to the project as "an excellent opportunity to provide information about preserving historically significant church documents, and to introduce the Amistad Research Center as a permanent repository for the papers."


The Chicago Friends of Amistad organization has existed since 1989, to support the Amistad Research Center financially and by other means. They are concerned with the preservation of the heritage of African Americans and supportive of the role Amistad plays as the nation's oldest, largest, and most comprehensive archive that chronicles the history of African Americans and other ethnic minorities. Chicago Friends membership is open to anyone who is a recognized donor to the Amistad Research Center.
Constance Harse
Constance Malone Bradford Harse, 71, a 1963 graduate of Tulane University, died April 7 at Hickory Creek in Athens, Ohio, after a brief illness. After growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, and winning a National Merit Scholarship, Mrs. Harse attended Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane as a mathematics and sociology major. As a student in New Orleans, Mrs. Harse attended a meeting of the Congress of Racial Equality with the intention of defending the segregated school system and society that had fostered her academic development. However, the meeting made her aware of racial inequities in the deep South, and instead, she joined the struggle for civil rights as an active participant. She wrote about her experiences as a picketer at a segregated lunch counter where she was beset by an older white woman and later, arrested. Her family sent her to Scotland to study during her junior year to remove her from civil rights unrest in the South.
Mrs. Harse later worked in New York and New Jersey before moving to Athens, Ohio, in 1989 and furthering her studies in sociology at Ohio University before becoming a case worker for the Athens County Jobs and Services Department. As a volunteer for Vietnam Veterans of America in Athens, she wrote a financial plan by which Vietnam Veterans and other military vets were evaluated for public assistance. She was a member and representative to the Communications Workers of America and helped operate events for the Ohio Atlatl Association. 
She is survived by her longtime companion, Ray Strischek of Athens; her son, John Harold Clark of Cincinnati and daughter, Jessica Harse Moore of Cleveland. A memorial service was held on May 18 at Central Avenue United Methodist Church in Athens.  

Taronda Spencer

An alumna of Spelman College, Taronda Spencer served as the college's archivist from 1998 until her recent passing. She had served as a student assistant in the Spelman College Archives while earning her bachelor of art degree in history. In addition, she was appointed college historian in 2000.


Ms. Spencer was a second generation archivist. Her mother, Emanuella Spencer, was an archivist at the Amistad Research Center, and it was at Amistad that Taronda learned the importance of preserving original documents. She also worked at the Historic New Orleans Collection and the Walter P. Reuther Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs at Wayne State University in Detroit. Ms. Spencer's dedication and experience as an archivist made her well-respected by student, faculty, and alumnae of Spelman. Ms. Spencer passed away on May 19, 2013.