A Personal Archive Of James Baldwin's Work Is Returning To Harlem
James Baldwin was born and raised in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance, his experiences ultimately shaping him into becoming the literary icon he is considered today. So it only makes sense that a personal archive of his literary work is returning to Harlem.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture recently announced its acquiring of the personal archive of the iconic author, which includes 30 linear feet of handwritten letters and manuscripts; handwritten and typed drafts of essays, novels and short stories; unpublished and published creative works in their nascent and final stages; and much more.
The archive will be a part of the exhibition The Evidence of Things Seen: Selections from the James Baldwin Papers.
“We are more than excited to have James Baldwin return home to Harlem,” Kevin Young, Director of the Schomburg Center, said in a statement. “Baldwin’s amazing collection adds to our ever-growing holdings of writers, political figures, artists and cultural icons across the African diaspora. With the current resurgence of interest in Baldwin’s works and words and renovation of our own spaces from the main gallery to the Schomburg Shop, the timing couldn’t be better for Baldwin to join us at the Schomburg Center. As a writer myself, I am eager for students, scholars and other writers — I count myself among all three — to have the opportunity to see his profound writing process up close.”
Highlights from the archive include the playscript of The Amen Corner, one of two plays that Baldwin wrote that addressed the Black church, poverty and Harlem; an essay on Martin Luther King Jr., where Baldwin describes receiving the phone call that notified him of King’s death as he was working on an unreleased screen adaptation of The Autobiography of Malcolm X with actor Billy Dee Williams; and a letter to Angela Davis, which he wrote to her just one month after her arrest in New York City by FBI agents.
Items from the Baldwin Archive will be on display from April 13-17.