Special Collections Department
Dodd, Mead & Company Archive
Manuscript Collection Number: 250
Accessioned: Purchase 1991.
Extent: 2 linear ft.
Content: Correspondence, contracts, photographs, wills and probate documents, biographies
permission files, drafts, copyright documents, poems, printed programs and ephemera, clippings, and notes.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991-1992 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
IMPORTANT COPYRIGHT NOTICE
Reference and Bibliography Section, LM-451
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20559
** LIMITED HOLDINGS ** NOTICE
Table of Contents
- Institutional History
- Biographical Notes
- Scope and Contents Note
- Arrangement Note
- Series Outline
Obligations of the World to the Bible, A Series of Lectures to Young Men (1839) was the first book published by Dodd. Although religious works dominated the early publication lists of M. W. Dodd, by the 1870s Frank Dodd, the son of Moses Dodd, had done much to change the emphasis of the publisher to a more general list.
Early publications of popular fiction included Martha Finley's Elsie Dinsmore and Edward P. Roe's Barriers Burned Away. Edward S. Mead, a partner in Dodd, Mead, was also a writer for the company. He wrote a number of books for children and adults under the pseudonym Richard Markham. Through the 1890s and early 1900s Dodd, Mead and Company expanded publications to include a variety of British and American authors including: G. K. Chesterton, Jerome K. Jerome, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Paul Leicester Ford, George Barr McCutcheon, Hamilton Wright Mabie, and Agatha Christie.
In the late 1890s Dodd, Mead and Company introduced the work of a number of new poets including Robert W. Service, Bliss Carman, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. This archive is comprised of the contracts and correspondence between Dunbar, a prominent Black American poet, and Dodd, Mead. Dunbar's Lyrics of Lowly Life was published in 1896, followed by Poems of Cabin and Field (1899), Lyrics of the Hearthside (1899), and a novel, The Sport of the Gods (1902).
During the 1950s, '60s, and '70s Dodd, Mead and Company published a number of anthologies of Negro poetry, folklore, essays, stories, and humor. This archive contains contracts and permission files related to those publications. Some of the anthologies and their editors include: We Speak of Liberators (1970) and What We Must See edited by Orde Coombs, The Book of Negro Folklore (1958, 1969) edited by Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes, 3000 Years of Black Poetry (1969) edited by Lomax and Abdul, The Book of Negro Humor (1966) edited by Langston Hughes, and The Harlem Renaissance Remembered (1972) edited by Arna Bontemps.
The business operations of Dodd, Mead and Company were suspended in March 1989 pending the outcome of arbitration with its fulfillment house, Metro Services Inc. By the end of 1990 the company ceased publications.
Sources:Gregory Ames, "Dodd, Mead and Company," Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 49: American Literary Publishing Houses, 1638-1899 (Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1986). pp. 126-130.
Calvin Reid, "Dodd, Mead Operations Suspended over Arbitration," Publishers Weekly, March 31, 1989. p. 11.
Arna Wendell Bontemps, 1902-1973
His first novel, God Sends Sunday, was based on black history and published in 1931. Bontemps received an M.A. degree from the University of Chicago Graduate Library School in 1943 and six months later became a librarian at Fisk. Bontemps spent most of his career at Fisk, leaving only between 1966 and 1969 to teach literature at the University of Chicago and from 1969 to 1970 to curate the James Weldon Johnson Collection at Yale.
Dodd, Mead published a number of books by Bontemps, including The Book of Negro Folklore (1958, with Langston Hughes), The Harlem Renaissance Remembered (1972), and 100 Years of Negro Freedom (1961). Prior to his death in 1973, Bontemps was working on an autobiography to be published by Dodd, Mead.
Benjamin Brawley, 1882-1939
Orde M. Coombs, 1939-1984
Orde Coombs wrote several books of nonfiction, including Do You See My Love for You Growing? (1972), Drums of Life (1974, with Chester Higgins, Jr.), Sleep Late With Your Dreams (1977), and Some Time Ago, A Historical Portrait of Black Americans from 1850-1950 (1980, with Chester Higgins, Jr.). He edited two anthologies published by Dodd, Mead, We Speak as Liberators: Young Black Poets (1970) and What We Must See: Young Black Storytellers (1971). In 1974 he edited Is Massa Day Dead? Black Moods in the Caribbean (1974) for publication by Doubleday. He died on September 1, 1984.
Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1875-1935
From 1902-1920 Alice Dunbar was a teacher and administrator at Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1916 Alice Dunbar married Robert J. Nelson, a journalist, politician, and civil rights activist. Dunbar-Nelson was active in Delaware and regional politics, civil rights issues, and the women's suffrage movement.
From 1920-1922, she and Robert Nelson edited and published the Wilmington Advocate, a progressive Black newspaper. Alice Dunbar-Nelson became a highly successful journalist, writing a syndicated column, and contributing reviews and essays to newspapers, magazines, and academic journals. She also continued to write stories, poems, plays, and novels until her death in 1935. Much of her work remains unpublished.
Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1872-1906
Much of his work, including Lyrics of a Lowly Life (1896) and his first novel, The Uncalled (1898), was published by Dodd, Mead. Dunbar's frail health deteriorated in the early 1900s and on February 6, 1906, he died at the age of 34.
Langston Hughes, 1902-1967
Between The Weary Blues (1926), his first book of poems, and The Panther and the Lash, published in 1967, he wrote over thirty books. In addition to poetry he wrote plays, short stories, novels, newspaper columns, translations, anthologies, television scripts, and even opera librettos. Dodd, Mead published several anthologies by Hughes, including Famous Negro Music Makers (1955), Famous American Negroes (1954), The Book of Negro Humor (1966), Book of Harlem (1958), and The Book of Negro Folklore (1958, with Arna Bontemps). Mr. Hughes died in 1967.
Raoul Abdul, 1929-
Alan Lomax, 1915-
He has written a number of books on American music with his father, John Avery Lomax, including American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), Our Singing Country (1938), and Cowboy Songs (1937). Dodd, Mead published 3000 Years of Black Poetry which Lomax co-edited with Raoul Abdul.
Sources:Evory, Ann (ed.). Contemporary Authors. First Revision, Volume 29-32. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1978. pp. 10-11.
Evory, Ann (ed.). Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 1. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1981. pp. 389-390.
Fuller, Sara S. The Paul Laurence Dunbar Collection: An Inventory to the Microfilm Edition. Columbus, Ohio: Ohio Historical Society, 1972. pp. 14-17.
May, Hal and Deborah A. Straub (eds.). Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 25. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1989. p. 81.
Murray, Tim. "Biographical Note." Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Library, 1991.
pp. 1-3. "Arna Bontemps, Writer, 70, Dies." The New York Times. June 6, 1973.
"Langston Hughes Called Fighter for Human Dignity." The New York Times. May 24, 1967. p. 32.
Scope and Contents Note
Authors included in this collection are Arna Wendell Bontemps, Benjamin Brawley, Orde Coombs, Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Alan Lomax, and Raoul Abdul. The files for Bontemps, Coombs, Lomax, and Abdul consist primarily of the permission correspondence and other material related to the various anthologies which these writers compiled and edited for Dodd, Mead.
The Benjamin Brawley and Paul Laurence Dunbar files consists of contracts, correspondence, and copyright documents related to books published for these authors by Dodd, Mead. In the case of Paul Laurence Dunbar, the files include correspondence with various successors to Dunbar's literary estate as well as three poems written by Dunbar.
The Alice Dunbar-Nelson material is limited to documents related to her book, The Goodness of St. Roque and Other Stories and letters concerning the estate of her husband, Paul Laurence Dunbar.
These files provide insight into the publication process of the several anthologies and books included in this archive. From their correspondence with the editors and from the biographies which they contributed for the anthologies, insights about various Black poets and writers can be gained. In addition, the collection includes publicity files for Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes which provide information about and photographs of the two writers.
The sections of the collection related to Paul Laurence Dunbar detail his publication and financial arrangements with Dodd, Mead through contracts and correspondence. The files also contain documents of copyright for various Dunbar books and information about the expiration of copyright for several items. There is also included significant correspondence regarding the succession of the Dunbar literary estate from the time of his death through the 1960s when Pauline Young (niece of Alice Dunbar-Nelson) was a recipient of royalties.
The Paul Laurence Dunbar series is more complex and has been divided into four subseries. This first subseries consists of three original typescript poems written by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The second subseries consists of material related to particular books written by Dunbar. Within this subseries the arrangement is alphabetical by book title. The third subseries consists of material related to publications, motion pictures, recordings, plagiarism, or performances based on Dunbar's writings. This subseries is arranged alphabetically by title of the project. The fourth subseries consists of material documenting the succession of the literary estate of Paul Laurence Dunbar.
I. Arna Wendell Bontemps, 1957-1974 1. Autobiography [untitled], 1966 2. The Book of Negro Folklore, 1957-1959 3. The Book of Negro Folklore, 1968-1969 4. The Harlem Renaissance Remembered, 1972 5. "Negroes Who Changed the American Cultural Image," 1964 6. The Old South, 1972 7. 100 Years of Negro Freedom, 1957-1961 8. Arna Bontemps Remembered, 1973 9. Arna Bontemps Publicity File, 1961-1974 II. Benjamin Brawley, 1917-1969 III. Orde Coombs, 1969-1971 1. We Speak As Liberators: Young Black Poets, 1969-1970 2. What We Must See: Young Black Storytellers, 1970-1971 IV. Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1899 V. Paul Laurence Dunbar, 1896-1969 1. Poetry written by Dunbar, n.d. 2. Contracts, correspondence and copyright documents for works written by Dunbar, 1896-1958 3. Contracts and correspondence related to published works, motion pictures, recordings or performances based on the writings of Dunbar, 1907-1969 4. Wills, letters testamentary, certificates of probate court, and correspondence documenting the estate of Dunbar and the successors to that estate, 1903-1965 VI. Langston Hughes, 1936-1985 1. Book of Harlem, 1957 2. The Book of Negro Humor, 1965-1966 3. Famous American Negroes, 1952-1961 4. Famous Negro Music Makers, 1954-55, 1985 5. Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington, 1964-1965 6. Publicity file for Langston Hughes, 1936-1969 VII. Alan Lomax & Raoul Abdul, 3000 Years of Black Poetry, 1969-1971 1. Contract, 1969 2. Permission Files, 1969-1971 Appendix. List of books removed and cataloged for Special Collections
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