Archives and Special Collections
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Archives and Special Collections Finding Aids

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Collection Overview
Title:Dept. of African American Studies records
Date:1972-2009
Location Code:33/3, 34/1-2
Reference Code:A118
Extent:11.25 cubic ft. (12 boxes)
Scope and Content Abstract:The collection documents the establishment and development of the Department of African American Studies at Northeastern University. Topics documented include course development in the areas of African American political and cultural experience, African history, and diaspora topics; relations with other University departments; staffing; long-term planning; course scheduling; faculty research; and student evaluation of courses and professors. Records include memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, course descriptions, syllabi, event fliers and programs, and department reports.
Historical Abstract:The Department of Afro-American Studies was created in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts in response to the demands of Northeastern's African American students and a nation-wide trend towards the foundation of ethnic studies departments. During the 1970s, the Department worked to establish itself and appeal to a wide range of student interests by offering classes on the African American experience in literature, art, music, history, politics, and film. The Department worked co-operatively with the African-American Institute, the African American Master Artists-in-Residence program, and Project Ujima to provide a variety of services, classes, and events for Northeastern students and the surrounding Roxbury community. In 1975, the Department changed its name to the African American Studies Department. By 1980, the Department had six faculty members and had broadened its course offerings and relationships with other University departments, offering cross-disciplinary courses with the history and music departments. In the early 1980s, the Department suffered considerable attrition, losing most of its full-time faculty positions; it was listed in the course catalog as an “Interdisciplinary Program” rather than as a full department. In 1989, department status was regained, and the number of full-time faculty members in the African American Studies program began to increase. The Department began reaching out to area educators, offering summer institutes for Boston-area teachers on topics in African and African American history and literature. The Department currently has six full-time faculty and draws on a nation-wide scholarly community for visiting scholars and lecturers.
Language and Scripts:The collection is entirely in English.
System of Arrangement:Arranged in 2 series: 1. Administration; and 2. Faculty and Courses.
Subjects and Contributors:
  • Austin, Richard
  • Bailey, Ronald
  • Carter, Holly M.
  • Chandler, Robin
  • Chiang, Gail
  • Derby, King
  • Gaddy, Kenneth
  • Gebre-Medhin, Jordan
  • Jacobs, Stanley
  • Lake, Edgar
  • Mcintosh, Sylvester, 1934-
  • Nyangani, Daniel
  • Samkange, Stanlake John Thompson, 1922-
  • Thurland, Karen
  • Vessup, Reuben
  • Warren, Joseph D. (Joseph David), 1938-

  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.).
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). African-American Institute
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). Afro-Caribbean Music Project
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). Dept. of African-American studies
  • Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.). John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute

  • African-American studies
Conditions Governing Access:Records are closed for 25 years from their date of creation unless researchers have written permission from the creating office. Records containing faculty or student information are closed for 75 years from their date of creation.
Technical Access:One DVD in Box 13 cannot be opened.
Immediate Source of Acquisition:Transferred from the Department of African American Studies.
Finding Aids:African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program records (A80); John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute records (A81).
Related Archival Materials:

African American Master Artists-in-Residence Program records (A80);John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute records (A81)

Processor:Finding aid prepared by Hanna Clutterbuck, September 2010

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the foundation and development of Northeastern University's Department of African American Studies from its inception in 1973 to 2009. The African-American Institute was heavily involved in the creation and initial support of the Department, and the records reflect the cooperative work of the faculty and staff of the Institute and the Department to design classes and attract students. The records also reflect Northeastern's involvement with the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools in the early 1970s and the Department's work with pilot programs such as the Urban Schools Collaborative. Of particular interest are the records of Department projects including the mid-1990s Nubian Institute which was a summer program designed by the Department and the Museum of Fine Arts to educate Boston-area public school teachers about the history and culture of the region of north Africa historically called “Nubia,” and the foundation and early development of Project Ujima in the 1970s. Also of special interest are the interviews and performances collected during the Afro-Caribbean Music Project trip to the island of St. Croix. The collection documents the Department-sponsored “Stormy Monday” lectures on current topics in the field of African American studies. The collection also documents the evaluation of Department faculty by their students and includes “Teacher / Course Evaluations” designed by the Student Government Association and administered University-wide, and intra-Departmental “Needs Assessment Surveys” administered solely by the African American Studies faculty. Other topics documented in the collection include course development in the areas of African American political and cultural experience, African history, and diaspora topics; relations with other University departments; staffing; long-term planning; course scheduling; and faculty research. Records include memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, course descriptions, syllabi, event fliers and programs, and department reports.

Historical Note

The Department of Afro-American Studies was created in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts in response to the demands of Northeastern's African American students and a nation-wide trend towards the foundation of ethnic studies departments. The African-American Institute had been offering courses in “Black Studies” with a wide variety of topics including music, cultural relations, African history, African American Literature, and Swahili. These courses were consolidated and accredited by the University in the new Department. By the mid-1970s, over 40 courses were offered.

During the 1970s, the Department worked to establish itself and appeal to a wide range of student interests by offering courses on the African American experience in literature, art, music, history, politics, and film. For its first seven years, the Department and the African-American Institute were closely linked, sharing resources and, often, staff members. The Department worked co-operatively with the Institute, the African American Master Artists-in-Residence program, and, after 1972, Project Ujima, a program designed to assist non-traditional college freshmen acclimate to university level work, to provide a variety of services, classes, and events for Northeastern students and the surrounding Roxbury community. When the program was started in 1972, it was known as “The Summer Program” and was not formally named until 1974. In 1975, the Department changed its name to the African American Studies Department.

By 1980, the Department had six faculty members and had broadened its course offerings and relationship to other University departments, offering cross-disciplinary courses with the history and music departments. In the early 1980s, the Department suffered considerable attrition, losing most of its full-time faculty positions and being listed in the course catalog as an “Interdisciplinary Program” rather than as a department. In 1982, there was a motion by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to abolish the Department; after protests by students, Dr. Ozzie Edwards, the head of the Department, and Verdaya Mitchell-Brown, the African-American Institute librarian, the motion was reversed by President Kenneth Ryder. The program was renamed the Department of African American Studies in 1989.

By 1990 the number of full-time faculty members in the African American Studies program had increased and the Department began to reach out to area educators, offering summer institutes for Boston-area teachers on topics in African and African American history and literature. The summer Nubian Institutes, begun in 1993, culminated in the online Nubianet project (www.nubianet.org) and a collaboration with the Education Development Center to develop the DigNubia educational website (www.dignubia.org). In 1994, the Department created the John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program, a companion program to the annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert. The aim of the Outreach Program is to bring live music performance into selected Boston area schools. By the mid-1990s, the Department had 13 faculty members, many of them with cross-disciplinary appointments, including in the history and music departments.

The Department currently has six full-time faculty and draws on a nation-wide scholarly community for visiting scholars and lecturers. The Department also oversees the John Coltrane Memorial Concert, the Stormy Monday colloquia series, and the Model African Union which involve students, staff, and faculty members in cultural and political events. In 2003, a survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked the Department in the top 15% of African American studies departments for the breadth of courses and the number of science courses offered. In 2008, the Department created the Afro-Caribbean Music Project which gives students a chance to travel and perform field research in the Caribbean during a summer semester. The students work with faculty members at various locations in the Caribbean to capture musical performances and oral histories from musicians, performers, historians, and local public figures.

Chronology
1973Department founded as Afro-American Studies.
1974“The Summer Program” institutionalized as Project Ujima.
1975Name changes to African American Studies Department.
1978First chair of Department, Ramona Edelin, leaves.
1980sLoses “department” status; called “Interdisciplinary Program.”
1989Name changes to Department of African American Studies.
1993First Summer Institute on Nubia.
1994John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program founded.
1998Co-hosts Ninth International Conference of Nubian Studies with the Museum of Fine Arts.
2003Survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranks the Department in the top 15% nationally for breadth of courses and number of science courses offered.
2008Afro-Caribbean Music Project founded.
Chronology of Chairs and Coordinators
1973-1978Ramona Edelin
1978-1979William D. McLaurin (Acting Chair)
1979-1981Holly M. Carter (Acting Chair)
1981-1985Holly M. Carter
1985-1987Ozzie L. Edwards (Chair and Coordinator)
1987-1991?Leonard Brown (Acting Chair)
1991-1995Ronald W. Bailey
1995-1997Patrick Manning (Acting Chair)
1997-1998Ronald W. Bailey (Acting Chair)
1998-2003Robert L. Hall
2003-2006Kwamina Panford
2006-2009Robert L. Hall (Acting Chair)
2009-Emmett G. Price
Bibliography

“Department of African American Studies: Afro-Caribbean Music Research Project (ACMRP),” http://www.northeastern.edu/daas/initiatives/music_research/ (accessed July 2010).

“Department of African American Studies: History,” http://www.northeastern.edu/daas/about/history/ (accessed June 2010).

“John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute: History,” http://www.northeastern.edu/aai/history.html (accessed June 2010).

“John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute: Ujima Scholars,” http://www.northeastern.edu/aai/Ujima_Scholars.html (accessed June 2010).

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Series:

1. Administration, n.d., 1973-2004 (bulk 1973-1985)
Volume:5 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Organized into 2 subseries: A) African-American Institute and African American Studies Department; and B) Department of African American Studies.
Summary:

This series documents the administration and operation of the Department of African American Studies from its inception in 1973 through the early 2000s. Records include correspondence and memoranda, meeting minutes, newspaper clippings, event fliers, budget and financial reports, departmental operating procedures, and brochures.

A. The African-American Institute and African American Studies Department (1973-1982) subseries documents the early years of the Department when it worked closely with the African-American Institute, sharing space and certain staff. The African-American Institute files document the library and physical plant of the Institute, award ceremonies, special events, and includes a small amount of correspondence and memoranda. Also included are records of the proposals to create the Department in 1973 and to institutionalize Project Ujima in 1974. The files labeled “Northeastern University” reflect the Department's involvement with the wider University community, including the Northeastern University Admissions Policy Committee, Honors Committee, Faculty Organization, and the Northeastern University Press. Of special interest is material documenting Northeastern's involvement with the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools in the early 1970s and the Department's own work with pilot programs such as the Urban Schools Collaborative.

B. The Department of African American Studies (1979-1990s) subseries documents the later years of the Department including its collaboration with groups outside the University, such as the National Council of Black Studies and the American Association of University Professors. Also included are records of the Department's ongoing involvement with University bodies. The records reflect the Department's work to bring cultural events, such as the Ernest Withers photography exhibit, to campus for the benefit of the University community. The Department also began to sponsor regular seminars, such as the Stormy Monday colloquia and the Frantz Fanon forums, on current topics in the field of African American studies.
BoxTitleDate
A. African-American Institute and Department of African American Studies
1Advising1977-1978
1Advising and Northeastern University: Report1978
1Affirmative Action1978-1981
1African-American Institute (7 folders) ca. 1970-1979
1African American Master-Artists-in-Residence Program1977
1Afrikan Heritage Institute and Heritage Press1970s
1Awards and Unity Banquet1973-1979
1Black Faculty and Staff : Listsn.d.
1Black Family Conferencen.d.
1Black History Month1977
1Black History Weekn.d.
1Black Studies Questionnairen.d.
1Black World / First World Magazine1976-1977
1Campus Police1977
1Career Expo (2 folders)1976
1Center for the Advancement of Minorities and Women1979
1 College of Liberal Arts(5 folders) 1973-1978
1Contact Listsn.d.
1Co-operative Education and Work-study Students1974-1977
1-2Correspondence, Memoranda, and Notes (24 folders) n.d., 1972-1979
2Departmental Chairs Meeting (2 folders)1975-1979
2Development Plan1978
2Ethnic Heritage Studies Grant Application (2 folders)1976
2Eventsn.d., 1974-1978
2Faculty Meetings1974-1978
2Faculty MeetingsFaculty and Staff Directories n.d., 1979
2Faculty Participation in Governance (2 folders)n.d., 1976-1977
3Financial (2 folders)1976-1977
3Freedom House1970s
3Graduate and Professional Opportunities Programca. 1979
3History (2 folders)ca. 1974
3International Study, Work, and Cultural Opportunities at Northeastern University: Report1979
3Madison Park High Schoolca. 1976
3Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Breakfast1974-1975
3Massachusetts Black Legislative Caucus1976
3Massachusetts Experimental School Systemn.d.
3Minority Colloquiums1979
3Minority Council1979-1982
3Minority Students in Higher Education1975
3National Alliance of Black School Educatorsca. 1975
3National Council for Black Studies1978-1979
3Northeastern University (16 folders)1973-1982
3Open House1979
3Operating Procedures1970s
3Physical Plantca. 1974
3Position Descriptions and Postings (2 folders)n.d., 1979-1980
3A Primer on Black Studies1978
3Project Ujima (2 folders)1973-1978
3Publications : Brochure1970s
3Recovering the Afro-American Historic Heritage of Boston and Philadelphia1979
4Republic of New Africa Declaration of Independencen.d.
4Revolutionary Aspects of Acquiring Skillsn.d.
4Roxbury Action Program Film Series / Northeastern University African American Film Series1977
4Scholarships1976
4Senior Classes1970s
4Southwest Corridor Projectca. 1978
4Speakers' Guild1979
4Staff1970s
4Student Groupsn.d.
4Student Statistics (4 folders)n.d., 1974-1979
4Teacher Corps Project1978
4Unionization of Facultyn.d., 1975-1976
4Urban Schools Collaborative1979
4Visitors and Speakers1970s
B. Department of African American Studies
4Advisors and Advisingn.d., 1980-1986
4Affirmative Action1987
4African-American Instituten.d., 1980-1982
4African American Master-Artists-in-Residence Program1993-1994
4Africana Studies and Research Center at Cornell University1980
4Afro Scholar: Newsletter1991
4Alabama Cotton Gin Symposiumca. 1992
4American Association of University Professors1981
4Black Political Participation and the Legacy of Fannie Lou Hamer: Conference 2004
4College of Arts and Sciences (2 folders)ca. 1979-1987
4Compensatory Educationca. 1979
4Contact Listsn.d.
4-5Correspondence, Memoranda, and Notes (16 folders)1979-1998
5Co-operative Education and Work-Study Students 1980
5Departmental Chairs Meetings1981
5Departmental Descriptionn.d.
5Diaspora Foundation1991
5Ernest Withers Art Exhibit (2 folders)1992
5Events1989-1995
5Faculty Meetings (2 folders)1979-2003
5Faculty Planning Retreat1992
5Financial1991-1993
5For My People: Documentary1993
5Frantz Fanon Forums1995
5Mandela Town Hall1990s
5Media Clipping Book1991-1995
5Model United Nationsca. 1982
5National Congress of Black Faculty1991
5National Council for Black Studiesca. 1980
5Ninth International Conference of Nubian Studies1998
5Northeastern University (8 folders)n.d., 1979-1985
5The Onyx Informer1981
5The Outreach Center for Black Studies in the Schools1993
5Publicity1980
5Scholarship Day1982
5A Sequence of Historical Events Conferenceca. 1993
5Stormy Monday Lecturesn.d., 1995-2000
5Student Statistics1980
5Urban Schools Collaborative1980
6Visitors and Speakers (2 folders)1980-1998
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Series:

2. Faculty and Courses, 1972-2009
Volume:6.25 cubic ft.
Arrangement:

Alphabetical
Summary:

This series documents the work done by the Department of African American Studies faculty both in and out of the classroom and the courses offered by the Department. The class files include course listings or descriptions and syllabi for some courses. Extensive files for the Department's summer Nubian Institutes, held in the early 1990s, are in this series. The Nubian Institute files include student applications and journals, reading packets, correspondence, and fundraising proposals. Files for individual faculty members include correspondence, professional development activities, class planning, and extra-departmental work. DVDs from the Afro-Caribbean Music Project trip to the island of St. Croix are contained in this series; the media files include interviews, performances, and student group presentations. Audio and video quality vary from disc to disc. The disc “Performance: St Croix Children's Choir” contains a performance by the St. Croix Children's Orchestra, and one disc, “Volunteers at The Boys & Girls Club,” could not be opened by Archives staff. Records include correspondence, memoranda, grant proposals, syllabi, course schedules, and DVDs.

BoxTitleDate
Courses
6General1979-1981
6Africa Today1978-1981
6African-American Literature Classn.d.
6African-American Literature Program: From Phillis Wheatley to Toni Morrison 1993
6African-American Musicn.d.
6African Civilization1978-1981
Afro-Caribbean Music Project
12After Presentation Awards and Thanks (DVD)2009
12A Day with the Moko Jumbies (DVD)2009
12Concert @ Pier 69 (2 DVDs)2009
12Documentary: Storytelling & Folklore (DVD)2009
12Dr. Karen Thurland Presentation (DVD )2009
12An Evening at Whim Plantation (DVD)2009
Group Presentations2009
12Dance (DVD) 2009
12Religion and Spirituality (DVD)2009
12Storytelling & Folklore (DVD)2009
Interviews 2009
12Pastor Richard Austin (DVD)2009
12Dr. Chenzira (2 DVDs)2009
12Gail Chiang (DVD)2009
12King Derby (DVD)2009
12Father Kenneth Gaddy (DVD)2009
12Stanley Jacobs (DVD)2009
12Edgar Lake (DVD)2009
12Sylvester “Blinky” Mcintosh (DVD)2009
12Reverend Reuben Vessup (DVD)2009
12Performance: St Croix Children's Choir (DVD) 2009
12Release Forms2009
12Stanley Jacobs and Ten Sleepless Knights Live at Sugar Beach (DVD)2009
12Volunteers at The Boys & Girls Club (DVD) 2009
6Analysis of the Slavery System in America1979
6Arabic1970s
6Black Aesthetics1976
6The Black Churchn.d.
6Black Community and Social Change1970s
6Black Ethics1974
6The Black History of Boston1979
6Black Music as a Domestic / International Political Phenomenonn.d.
6The Black Novel1979
6Black Political Behaviorca. 1979
6Black Scientific Development1979
6Caribbean History1979
6Civil Rights Movement1976
6Course Listings and Descriptions (12 folders)n.d., 1975-1989
6Course Notes (2 folders)n.d.
6-7Developing Mentor-Teachers for African American Literature (6 folders)1993-1994
7The Economic Problems of Black America1978
7The Economics of Urban Poverty1980
7Effect of Racism in the Penal Systemn.d.
7Enrollments and Class Schedules (2 folders)n.d., 1977-1988
7Epidemiology of Black-Related Diseases1980
7Fiscal Planning and Its Impact on Minorities1970s
7Foundations of Black Cultureca. 1974-1976
7Great Migration Instituteca. 1992
7Growth in Pan-Africanism: Thesis1976
7History of Afro. American Music: Textbookn.d.
7History of Black Ideasn.d.
7Human Services Program1970s
7Impact of Culture on Nutrition1980
7Introduction to African-American Studies1990s
7Literary Imagery in Black Writing1980
7Needs Assessment Surveys (11 folders)1970s
7-8Nubian Institute (35 folders)n.d., 1992-1994
8Program and Course Proposalsn.d., 1976-1978
8Poverty and Healthcaren.d.
8Race, Racism, and American Law n.d.
8Racial Integration and Its Impact on Education1979
8Roots1977
8Roots of Afro-American Culture and History in Music1976
8Science and the Black Societyn.d.
8Study Skills Guides1970s
9Survey of African-American Arts1979
9Swahilin.d., 1972
9Syllabi (3 folders)n.d., 1978-1988
9Teacher / Course Evaluations (18 folders)n.d., 1979-1980s
9The Welfare System in America1979
Faculty
9General (2 folders)n.d., 1975-1981
10Faculty Development1979
10Faculty Information Sheets1979
Teaching Staff
10Abdul Alkalimat1993
10Ron Bailey (15 folders)n.d., 1990s
10-11Holly Carter (9 folders)n.d., 1978-1981
11Robin Chandler1979
11Ramona Edelin1975
11Jordan Gebre-Medhin (8 folders)ca. 1981
11Olon Atu Godare1976
11Robert Hayden (2 folders)1993
11William McLaurinn.d.
11Daniel Nyangani (2 folders)1988
11Stanlake Samkange ca. 1976
11Joseph Warren (2 folders)1970s
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