University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


AFRICAN AMERICAN POETRY

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The University of Delaware Library is pleased to announce that "African American Poetry" is the title of the current exhibition on the first floor of the Morris Library in Newark. The exhibition will consist of two separate installments. The first exhibit will be on view from February 6 - May 5, 1998 and will focus upon African American poetry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Well-known authors such as Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar will be included, but the work of lesser-known figures, such as Jupiter Hammon, George Moses Horton, and Frances E.W. Harper will also be presented. The second display will be on view from June 23-September 28, 1998 and will highlight African American poetry during the twentieth century and will include work by Countee Cullen, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Sterling Brown, Gwendolyn Brooks, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, Audrey Lorde, Maya Angelou, Wanda Coleman, Rita Dove, and a host of other African American poets.

The University of Delaware Library houses a wealth of primary and secondary materials relating to African American poetry, including original books and manuscripts by African American poets; biographical, historical, and critical works; anthologies; sound recordings; and microforms. Reflecting the Library's efforts to provide electronic access to research materials is the Database of African-American Poetry, 1760-1900 ( Alexandria, VA : Chadwyck-Healy, 1995). Located in the Library's Microform Unit, this CD-Rom database (Call number: CD-ROM 573) covers the works of fifty-four African-American poets who wrote during the 18th and 19th centuries. "African American Poetry" will feature examples of all of these resources.

The past several decades have brought a phenomenal surge of interest in all aspects of African American poetry. Whereas at one time, eighteenth and nineteenth century African American poets were represented in anthologies solely by Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar, the work of numerous early poets has been resurrected and made available for students and scholars. "During the twentieth century, African American poets have produced some of the most important writing of our time," stated Susan Brynteson, Director of Libraries, "and the University of Delaware Library's holdings in this area offer a wealth of opportunities for research and teaching." In addition to a strong collection of published primary and secondary works, the Special Collections Department houses a major holdings of first editions and manuscripts relating to African American poetry, including the papers of such prominent figures as Alice Dunbar Nelson and Ishmael Reed.


African American Poetry
A Selected List

All titles listed are in the University of Delaware Library collection.



REFERENCE SOURCES

The past several decades have brought a phenomenal surge of interest in early African American poetry. Whereas at one time, eighteenth and nineteenth century African American poets were represented in anthologies solely by Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar, the work of numerous early poets has been resurrected and made available for students and scholars. Publishing programs such as the Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-century Black Women Writers has issued long out-of-print work and previously-unpublished poetry by such figures as Phillis Wheatley, Alice Dunbar Nelson, Frances E.W. Harper, Ann Plato, and Charlotte Forten Grimke. Extensive collections of primary research materials, such as the papers of Paul Laurence Dunbar, are available in the Library's Microform Unit, and reflecting the Library's efforts to provide electronic access to research materials is the Database of African-American Poetry, 1760-1900. Located in the Library's Microform Unit, this CD-Rom database (Call number: CD-ROM 573) provides full-text coverage of the works of fifty-four African-American poets who wrote during the 18th and 19th centuries. The database is also available on the World Wide Web via the Library's networked databases.

Black literature, 1827-1940 index on CD-ROM. Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey Inc., [1994-]

Database of African-American poetry, 1760-1900. CD-ROM edition. Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healy, 1995.

The Paul L. Dunbar papers: at the Ohio Historical Society. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources, [1988?], 1972.

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore, 1875-1935
The works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Forten, Charlotte L.
The journals of Charlotte Forten Grimke. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Yellin, Jean Fagan.
The pen is ours : a listing of writings by and about African-American women before 1910 with secondary bibliography to the present. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.


PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR (1872-1906)

Poet, short story writer, novelist, and dramatist, during his relatively brief career, Paul Laurence Dunbar was the most successful African American author of his generation. The University of Delaware Library houses a strong collection of his published work. His original manuscripts and papers are available on microfilm in the Library's Microform Unit. The Special Collections Department also houses a significant collection of Dunbar's correspondence and manuscripts.

Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 1872-1906.
Joggin' erlong. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1906.

Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 1872-1906.
Lyrics of love and laughter. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1913, c1903.

Dunbar, Paul Laurence, 1872-1906.
Lyrics of the hearthside. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1899.

Wiggins, Lida Keck.
The Life and works of Paul Laurence Dunbar: containing his complete poetical works, his best short stories, numerous anecdotes and a complete biography of the famous poet. Nashville, Tenn.: Winston-Derek Publishers, 1992.


ALICE MOORE DUNBAR NELSON (1875-1935)

Alice Dunbar Nelson was a highly productive writer in virtually every genre. She was an accomplished poet, a pioneer in the black short story tradition, and devoted much of her later life to education, journalism, and political and social activism. Alice Dunbar Nelson's literary papers, which include her extant manuscripts, diaries, correspondence, and a significant portion of her personal library, are held in the University of Delaware Library's Special Collections Department.

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore, 1875-1935.
Give us each day : the diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. New York: W.W. Norton, 1984.

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore, 1875-1935.
The works of Alice Dunbar-Nelson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Dunbar-Nelson, Alice Moore, 1875-1935.
"I am an American," Typescript, 1p., and Autograph draft, 1 p., [n.d.] From the Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers.


COLONIAL PERIOD TO THE CIVIL WAR

Although Phillis Wheatley and Paul Laurence Dunbar are often the only African American poets to appear in anthologies of early American literature, during the century between Wheatley and Dunbar, the work of more than one-hundred thirty African American poets was published in books, pamphlets, and periodicals. For many years, much of this writing was inaccessible; however, through the efforts of a growing number of dedicated scholars, the work of these poets has been recovered and made available in a variety of formats. These poets came from a wide range of backgrounds and geographic regions. They also wrote in an astonishing variety of poetic styles, techniques, and genres, including religious and patriotic verse, dialect poetry, romantic verse, classical poetry, translation, and political poetry.

Campbell, Thomas.
In The anti-slavery harp: a collection of songs for anti-slavery meetings. Boston: B. Marsh, 1851.

Cannon, Noah Calwell, 1796?-1850.
From the Database of African-American poetry, 1760-1900. CD-ROM edition. Alexandria, VA: Chadwyck-Healy, 1995.

Vassa, Gustavus (Olaudah Equiano, b. 1745)
The life of Olaudah Equiano: or, Gustavus Vassa the African, 1789. London, Dawsons, 1969.

Hammon, Jupiter, 1711-1806
America's first Negro poet; the complete works of Jupiter Hammon of Long Island. Port Washington, N.Y., I. J. Friedman Division, Kennikat Press [1970]

Horton, George Moses, 1798?-ca. 1880.
The Black bard of North Carolina: George Moses Horton and his poetry. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Plato, Ann, 1820?-
Essays including biographies and miscellaneous pieces, in prose and poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Reason, Charles Lewis, 1818-1893.
In Autographs for freedom. Auburn, Alden, Beardsley, 1854.

Sidney, R. W.
In Early Negro writing, 1760-1837. Boston: Beacon Press [1971]

Terry, Lucy, 1730-1821.
In Crossing the danger water: four hundred years of African-American writing. New York: Anchor Books, 1993.

Wheatley, Phillis, 1753-1784.
The collected works of Phillis Wheatley. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988.

Wheatley, Phillis, 1753-1784.
Memoir and poems of Phillis Wheatley, a native African and a slave. Boston: Geo. W. Light, 1834.

Wilson, William J.
In The Anglo-African magazine. [reprint] New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, [n.d.]


CIVIL WAR - WORLD WAR I

African American literature flourished during the period between the Civil War and first two decades of the twentieth century. African American authors and intellectuals grappled with a host of political and social issues, and non-fiction prose is perhaps the predominate literary form of the period. Still, poetry flourished, and although Paul Laurence Dunbar remains the best-known African American poet of this era, a host of other significant poets emerged and were successful. By the onset of World War I, and the arrival of the writers who are associated with the Harlem Renaissance, African-American poetry was about to reach one of its highest creative peaks.

Bell, James Madison, 1826-1902.
The poetical works of James Madison Bell. Lansing, Mich.: Press of Wynkoop, Hallenback, Crawford, 1901.

Cotter, Joseph Seamon, 1895-1919.
Complete poems. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1990.

Davis, D. Webster (Daniel Webster), b. 1862
In African-American poetry of the nineteenth century: an anthology. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992.

Fordham, Mary Weston.
Magnolia leaves; poems. Charleston, S. C.: Walker, Evans & Cogswell Co., 1897.

Fortune, Timothy Thomas.
Dreams of life; miscellaneous poems. Miami, Fla.: Mnemosyne Pub. Co., 1969 [1905]

Mapps. Grace A.
In The Work of the Afro-American Woman, by Mrs. N. F. Mossell. Philadelphia: Geo. S. Ferguson Company, 1894.

Harper, Frances Ellen Watkins, 1825-1911.
A brighter coming day. New York: Feminist Press at the City University of New York: Distributed by the Talman Co., 1990.

Heard, Josephine D., 1861-1921.
In Ebony angels: a collection of African-American poetry and prose. New York : Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1996.

Henderson, Elliott Blaine, 1877-1944.
Jes' plain black fo'ks. Springfield, Ohio: [s.n., n.d.]

Menken, Adah Isaacs, 1835-1868.
Infelicia. Freeport, N.Y: Books for Libraries Press, 1971.

Payne, Daniel Alexander, 1811-1893.
Recollections of seventy years. New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1968 [1888]

Taylor, Orlando C. W.
In The Dunbar speaker and entertainer, containing the best prose and poetic selections by and about the Negro race. Naperville, Ill.: J. L. Nichols & Co. [1920]

Whitfield, James M.
In Autographs for freedom. London: Sampson Low, 1853.


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