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The Black Renaissance in Washington, DC, 1910-1937
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The Harlem Renaissance
A Core Collection of Books

These titles are available in the Black Studies Division of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library and each of the branch libraries, community libraries, and the kiosk, through a purchase made possible by a Carnegie Corporation of New York Grant (1999). The exception to this rule is Wintz’s seven volumes, Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940: Interpretation of an African American Literary Movement. This set was purchased for the following branches only: Anacostia, Benning, Georgetown, Petworth, Washington-Highlands, and Watha T. Daniel. Also, ten circulating titles of the following five books have been made available for the Popular Division of the Martin Luther King Memorial Library: There is Confusion, The Conjure Man Dies: A Mystery of Dark Harlem, The City of Refuge: The Collected Stories of Rudolph Fisher, Black No More, and Cane.


Books are in the reference section of the Black Studies Division and each of the branch or community libraries and the kiosk, whereby they are available for your use on demand.

Circulating copies of many of these titles may be available, please contact your local librarian or the subject division in which the title(s) should be located.


Annotations will give you a fairly clear understanding of the content of each book.

Names appearing in the annotations indicate that there are poems, short stories, essays, etc. written by a Washington, DC writer. The numbers in parenthesis refer to the page numbers of works by the Washington artists.

Titles are arranged in alphabetical order by author under the subject division in which they are located at Martin Luther King Memorial Library.

Numbers in bold (810.9 B62662) refer to the call number and indicate where the book is located on the shelf. If you have trouble locating titles, please ask for assistance.

Within the biographies and the timeline on this site, the Core Collection symbol appears next to titles that are included in this Core Collection (this is not a comprehensive match, but it will provide a start for researchers).

Language and Literature Division

Bloom, Harold (editor). Black American Poets and Dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Chelsea House, 1996. (810.9 B62662)

This volume succeeds in providing a wealth of information on the ten most significant Black poets and dramatists of the Harlem Renaissance. It includes a brief biographical sketch, critical extracts, and a bibliography of the works of each of the ten artists. The following artists are representative of those included: Sterling A. Brown (16-30), Langston Hughes (73-94), Georgia Douglas Johnson (95-109), and Jean Toomer (129-149).

Bloom, Harold. Black American Prose Writers of the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Chelsea House, 1994. (810.9 B6267)

As stated in the User’s Guide to this volume, the contents "provide biographical, critical, and bibliographical information on the thirteen most significant black American prose writers of the Harlem Renaissance." For each of the thirteen selected writers, the section that is devoted to each individual includes a biographical sketch; a selection of brief critical extracts about the author; and a bibliography of the author’s works.

Included among the thirteen are Sterling A. Brown (14-24), Jessie Redmon Fauset (36-48), Rudolph Fisher (49-61), Langston Hughes (62-77), Zora Neale Hurston (78-93), and Jean Toomer (134-146).

Davis, Arthur Paul. From the Dark Tower: Afro-American Writers 1900 to 1960. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1974. (810.9896 D291)

This book is divided into two sections. The first is of major importance because it covers 1900-1940 and focuses on "The New Negro Renaissance." It is further divided into two parts that concentrate on "The Planters" and "The First Fruits".

The introductory remarks to "The New Negro Renaissance" present an insightful discussion of "the social and historical forces that helped bring the… Renaissance into being; the literary influences at work during the 1900-1925 period… the social and literary background for the 1925-1940 period…." In addition, there are comments on the minor writers of the period.

The planters include: Jean Toomer (44-51) and Alain LeRoy Locke (51-60). The first fruits include Langston Hughes (61-73), Jessie Fauset (90-94), Rudolph Fisher (98-103), Zora Neale Hurston (113-120), and Sterling A. Brown (125-135).

Gabbin, Joanne V. Sterling A. Brown: Building the Black Aesthetic Tradition. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1985. (811 B879ZG)

This seminal study of Brown’s work analyzes his creative work, literary criticism, as well as provides glimpses into his life. It elevates and gives due credit to an individual who is internationally acclaimed as a poet and literary critic of African American and Anglo-American literature.

Gray, Christine Rauchfuss. Willis Richardson: Forgotten Pioneer of African-American Drama. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 (812 R526ZG)

This volume clearly demonstrates the role that Richardson played as a pioneer in the development of African American drama. This is the first full-length study of Richardson’s life and work. Thanks to Gray, there should be an increased interest in the plays of Willis Richardson.

Harper, Michael S. (editor). The Collected Poems of Sterling A. Brown. New York: Harper and Row, 1980. (811 B879)

This impressive collection of poems allows the reader an opportunity to review the large body of Brown’s poems in a single volume. Sterling Brown is particularly remembered for his frankness and for the way in which he so adeptly handled folk material.

Hatch, James Vernon. Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1996. (812.08 L881)

The plays of thirteen playwrights are included in this volume. Two of the playwrights had a Washington connection: Willis Richardson ("A Pillar of the Church") and Langston Hughes ("Scarlet Sister Barry," " The Organizer" and "The Em-Fuehrer Jones"). The short biographical sketches for Richardson and Hughes, that precede the plays, provide great insight into their plays and highlight the significance of those plays as an art form. See the appendix for a number of documents relevant to the Lost Plays of the Harlem Renaissance. Consider reading the following selected documents:

1. Jessie Fauset, "The Negro in Art: How Shall He Be Portrayed?"
5. Langston Hughes, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain"
9. Angelina W. Grimke, "Rachel The Play of the Month: The Reason and Synopsis by the Author"
12. Willis Richardson, "The Hope of a Negro Drama"
13. Alain Locke, "Steps Toward the Negro Theatre".

Honey, Maureen (editor). Shadowed Dreams: Women’s Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1989. (811.08 S524)

Shadowed Dreams made previously unavailable material accessible to the general public. The poems are divided into four groups: protest, heritage, love and passion, and nature. Some of the poets are familiar to those versed in the Renaissance; however, some are even obscure to the informed. Those poets with Washington ties are well-represented: Gwendolyn Bennett (103-108), Clarissa Scott Delany (142-144), Jessie Fauset (122, 156-158), Angeline Weld Grimke (73, 123, 145-150, 179-185), Georgia Douglas Johnson (57-66, 121, 162-164), and Esther Popel (214-216).

Huggins, Nathan Irvin (editor). Voices from the Harlem Renaissance. Oxford University Press, 1995. (810.8 V8887)

This anthology was compiled with a twofold purpose. First, to show the context in which the art of the Renaissance occurred; and second, to provide the reader with examples of the broad range of works that were characteristic of the period. The author has succeeded in accomplishing his goal by featuring over 120 selections from the political writings and arts of the period. The writings of Gwendolyn Bennett, Sterling Brown, Waring Cuney, Jessie Redmond Fauset, Rudolph Fisher, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke, Richard Bruce [Nugent], and Jean Toomer are included.

Hutchinson, George. The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White. Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard University, 1995. (810.9 H976)

This book presents an encyclopedic treatment of the cultural institutions that contributed to the development of the Harlem Renaissance. Part 1 focuses on the intellectual climate that helped to foster the Renaissance. Part 2 is a survey of the literary institutions (The Crisis, Opportunity, The Nation, The Messenger, The New Republic and a number of book publishers) that both influenced and were influenced by the Renaissance.

Lewis, David Levering. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader. New York: Viking Press, 1994. (810.8 P8393)

This treasure-trove offers a shining reflection of Black art and culture during the 1920s and 1930s. It is divided into three sections (essays, poetry, and fiction) and includes the work of forty-five Renaissance figures. Some of the artists included are: Gwendolyn Bennett, Sterling Brown, Waring Cuney, Jessie Redmon Fauset, Rudolph Fisher, Angelina Weld Grimke, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Alain Locke, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Jean Toomer.

The "Chronology and the Biographical Notes" are well worth exploring because they both provide a wealth of information for the curious. Lewis features many important essays and poems that were originally published in The Crisis and Opportunity magazines. In addition, this is the first anthology to include Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston’s Mule Bone.

Also see Lewis’ When Harlem Was in Vogue which is considered a classic study of the Harlem Renaissance. (700.8996 L673)

Mitchell, Angelyn (editor). Within the Circle: An Anthology of African American Literary Criticism from the Harlem Renaissance to the Present. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1994. (810.9 W824)

This anthology of African American criticism includes essays that cover the span of Renaissance writers to the period of 1990. The individuals that had some affiliation with Washington and the essays that they wrote are as follows: Alain Locke’s "The New Negro", Jessie Fauset’s "The Gift of Laughter", Langston Hughes’ "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain", Sterling A. Brown’s "Our Literary Audience", and Zora Neale Hurston’s "Characteristics of Negro Expression.

O’Daniel, Therman B. (editor). Jean Toomer: A Critical Evaluation. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1988. (810.81 T672ZO)

This book of critical evaluations includes forty-six essays some of which are vintage and others of which were prepared especially for this volume. There is an excellent bibliography of works by and about Toomer (505-528).

Richardson, Willis (editor), Plays and Pageants from the Life of the Negro. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1993. (812.08 R520P)

There is an excellent discussion on pages xxiv –xxv that distinguishes the difference between this collection and Plays of Negro Life by Alain Locke and T. Montgomery Gregory. The following playwrights are included: Hilda Wilkinson Brown, Elmer Simms Campbell, Joseph C. Carpenter, Jr., Thelma Myrtle Duncan, May Miller, Brenda Ray Moryck, and Willis Richardson. James Lesesne Wells did the illustrations.

Rodgers, Marie E. The Harlem Renaissance: An Annotated Reference Guide for Student Research. Englewood, CO: Libraries Unlimited, 1998. (016.7008 R691)

This Guide will certainly steer the young adult through the maze of information and resources available on the Renaissance. It is arranged in six (6) parts, four (4) of which deal with a major area of focus during the Renaissance: Literature, Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Sports. Two other areas focus on the historical overview and cultural /biographical references. This is an excellent starting point for both adults and students in grades 9 through 12.

Rusch, Frederik L. (editor). Jean Toomer Reader: Selected Unpublished Writings. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. (810.81 T672A)

Other than Cane, most of Toomer’s contributions to American literature have been almost forgotten. This volume of previously unpublished writings will restore interest in his works. The writings (letters, sketches, poems, short stories, etc.) are thematically arranged.

Thurman, Wallace (editor), Fire!! :Devoted to the Younger Negro Artists. Westport, Conn: Negro Universities Press, 1970. (810.8 F5225)

There was only a single issue of this periodical. It was launched in 1926 with Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston as editors. John P. Davis served as its business manager and Richard Bruce Nugent was in charge of distribution. Gwendolyn Bennett and Aaron Douglas were actively involved with its production. Its purpose was to publicize the younger writers’ break with the older literary establishment. In addition to the literary work of the three editors, Waring Cuney, Lewis Alexander and Richard Bruce Nugent were represented in its pages.

Turner, Darwin T. (editor), The Wayward and the Seeking: A Collection of Writings by Jean Toomer. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1980. (810.81 T672)

In this volume, Turner brings together an impressive collection of Toomer’s works. Included in this collection of writings are selections from the autobiographical material, short stories, poetry, drama, and aphorisms.

Wilson, Sondra Kathryn (editor). The Crisis Reader: Stories, Poetry, and Essays from the N.A.A.C.P.’s Crisis Magazine. New York: Modern Library, 1999. (810.8 C932)

This Reader contains stories, poetry, and essays that have appeared in the NAACP’s Crisis magazine. The introductory remarks provide an engaging overview of the NAACP and its official organ, The Crisis. The Crisis Reader provides a rich selection of writings that were written during some of the most egregiously racist times in American history (xxv).

Works of the following artists are represented: Gwendolyn Bennett, Marita Odette Bonner, Sterling Brown, Rudolph Fisher, Frank Horne, Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Alain Locke, Willis Richardson, and Jean Toomer.

The "Biographical Notes of the Contributors" provides some strong sketches of those whose writings are included in the Reader. These sketches help the reader to understand the literature from the context of those who wrote it.

Wilson, Sondra Kathryn (editor). Opportunity Reader: Selections from the Urban League’s Opportunity Magazine. New York: The Modern Library, 1999. (810.8 O62)

This Reader contains selected stories, poetry, plays, reviews and essays from the Urban League’s Opportunity Magazine. The artists represented include the following: Gwendolyn Bennett, Marita O. Bonner, Sterling Brown, Rudolph Fisher, Angelina W. Grimke, Frank Horne, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Georgia Douglas Johnson, Alain Locke, Richard Bruce Nugent, Willis Richardson, and Clarissa M. Scott.

The Opportunity along with the NAACP’s Crisis magazine were two effective vehicles that nurtured and promoted the art and literature of the Renaissance.

Wintz, Cary D. (editor). Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940: Interpretation of An African American Literary Movement. New York: Garland Press, 1996. (7 volumes)

This seven volume set is a comprehensive study of the Harlem Renaissance, and the title of each volume gives a clear indication of the material included. In the editor’s overview of the series, he states "The Harlem Renaissance was the most significant event in African American literature and culture in the twentieth century. While its most obvious manifestations was as a self-conscious literary movement, it touched almost every aspect of African American culture and intellectual life in the period from World War I to the Great Depression. Its impact redefined black music, theater, and the visual arts; it reflected a new militant political/racial consciousness and racial pride that was associated with the term New Negro…." (Wintz, ix)

• The Emergence of the Harlem Renaissance, vol.1 (810.9 H285E)
• The Politics and Aesthetics of "New Negro" Literature, vol. 2 (810.9 H285P)
• Black Writers Interpret the Harlem Renaissance, vol. 3 (810.9 H285B)
• The Critics and the Harlem Renaissance, vol. 4 (810.9 H285C)
• Remembering the Harlem Renaissance, vol. 5 (810.9 H285R)
• Analysis and Assessment, 1940-1979, vol. 6 (810.9 H285AN)
• Analysis and Assessment, 1980-1994, vol. 7 (810.9 H285ANA)

Woodson, Jon. To Make a New Race: Toomer, Gurdjieff, and the Harlem Renaissance. Jackson, MS: University of Mississippi Press, 1999. (813 T6722W)

It has been widely accepted that Toomer brought the Gurdjieff system of self-development to Harlem. He received his training from Gurdjieff. For the first time, there is a study that deciphers the works of Toomer, Wallace Thurman, Rudolph Fisher, Zora Neale Hurston, Nella Larsen, and George Schuyler. As stated in the Preface, "behind all of their writings stands, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866-1949), one of the most original, inspiring, and mysterious spiritual teachers of the modern period…." (Woodson, x)

Art Division

Bearden, Romare and Harry Henderson. A History of African-American Art: From 1792 to the Present. New York: Pantheon Books, 1993. (704.0396 B368)

Bearden and Henderson provide an excellent survey of African American art beginning in the 18th Century and culminating with art and artists of the 1980s. There are two sections that are of particular importance to the scope of this Resource Guide: "The Twenties and the Black Renaissance," (115-225), and "Emergence of African-American Artists During the Depression," (227-271, 280-292).

Campbell, Mary Schmidt. Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America. New York: Abrams, Inc., 1994. (704.0396 H284)

Cassidy, Donna M. Painting the Musical City: Jazz and Cultural Identity in American Art, 1910-1940. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. (704.9497 C345)

Chapter four, "Jazz and African American Identity," is a must read for those interested in the Renaissance. For African American artists of the period, as well as others, the musicians of jazz played a major role in thematic subject matter. According to Cassidy, "[Aaron] Douglas saw the equivalents of his art and those of music; he wrote about his distinctive decorative style as a visualization of African American music. Jazz iconography also functioned as part of Douglas’s representation of the contemporary African American scene and of Harlem as the modern black city. Through images drawn from jazz… Douglas constructed a racial identity." (Cassidy, 4)

Chambers, Veronica. Harlem Renaissance. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 1997. (700.8996 C445)

This volume provides an overview for the younger reader. The reader is introduced to key individuals in literature, music, dance, and the visual arts, as well as the intellectuals and social reformers of the period. The illustrations add powerful visual support to the text.

Davis, Keith F., The Passionate Observer: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten. Kansas City, MO: Hallmark Card, Inc., 1993. (779.2092 V284ZD)

This volume is the eighth publication in a series from the photographs in the Hallmark Photographic Collection. The book provides an overview of the body of work that was done in portraiture, "the most important aspect of Van Vechten’s photographic work — and the breadth of its thirty-year chronological span." This selection provides evidence of the significance of Carl Van Vechten’s photographic career. (Davis, 8)

Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Harlem Renaissance. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. (700.9747 H891)

Huggins’ book was the first full-scale treatment of the period referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. As a cultural historian his major contribution has been to analysis the Harlem Renaissance within the context of this country’s overall cultural history.

In its totality, Huggins views the Renaissance as a failure. With the exception of jazz, which had its roots in the black experience, other artistic creations were enslaved to white forms and values. He states that " The black intellectuals were searching for their own identity, but they were bound up in a more general American experience…. For black and white Americans have been so long and so intimately a part of one another’s experience that… they cannot be understood independently." (Huggins, 11)

Kellner, Bruce. Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era. New York: Methuen, Inc., 1987. (700.8996 H284)

Kellner’s Introduction provides a vivid overview of the period and offers glimpses at its key players. This comprehensive source provides a wealth of information that is useful and engaging if read on its own or used to provide supporting information when reading other books. The volume includes names, places, incidents, and publications.

The Appendices are rich: " A Chronology of Significant Events, 1917-1935;" "A Harlem Renaissance Library" which includes a chronology of books printed between 1917-1935; "Plays by, about, or Featuring Afro-Americans, 1917-1935;" "Serial Publications from the Harlem Renaissance;" and "A Glossary of Harlem Slang."

Lewis, David Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue. New York: Alfred Knopf, 1981. (700.8996 L973)

This clearly written intellectual and social history covers all aspects of the Harlem Renaissance and gives the reader an assessment of its achievements. Lewis vividly illustrates why the Renaissance was a time of rich black literary and artistic accomplishments.

Lewis, Samella. African American Art and Artists. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990. (704.0396 L676AF)

The third section, "New Americanism and Ethnic Identity," of this volume (59-105) deals with visual arts between 1920-1940. Some of the artists represented include: Lois Jones, James Porter, Alma Thomas, and James Lesesne Wells.

Patton, Sharon F. African-American Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. (704.0396 P322)

Section 3, "Twentieth-Century America and Modern Art, 1900-1960," is particularly important for purposes of this Guide. Beginning on page 109, the reader is presented with highlights of the "New Negro Ideas." Patton provides in-depth information on art movements and individual artists and their works.

Porter, James A. Modern Negro Art. Washington, DC: Howard University Press, 1992. (709.73 P946A2)

This volume is considered a classic work on African American art. The bibliographic material is still essential in providing early source material. The following chapters are crucial for the coverage of this Resource Guide: "The New Negro Movement," Chapter VI, (86-101); "The New Horizons of Painting," Chapter VII, (102-123); and "The New Sculpture," Chapter VIII, (124-134).

Reynolds, Gary A. and Beryl J. Wright. Against the Odds: African-American Artists and the Harmon Foundation. Newark, New Jersey: The Newark Museum, 1989. (704.0396 R463)

This exhibition catalogue provides insight into the Harmon Foundation’s annual juried art exhibitions between 1928-1933. It includes works by those artists who participated in the exhibitions and programs. The text is balanced providing information that highlighted the good that was done by the foundation as well as the art critics’ remarks of the Foundation’s exhibitions. The text provides historical background as to the role that various groups, individuals, and organizations made in promoting the artistic (visual and literary) endeavors of Blacks during the 1920s and 1930s. The artwork presented in this catalogue is a testament to the quality of work produced during this time period.

Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997. (704.0396 R468)

This volume is the catalogue for an exhibition that commenced at the Hayward Gallery, London and culminated at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, DC. As stated in the Foreword, Rhapsodies in Black focuses on a subject that has been explored in exhibitions in the United States, but never in Britain, or indeed anywhere in Europe." The exhibition sought to put the work of those artists from the New Negro arts movement within a contextual reference that demonstrated the interaction that occurred across racial and ethical bounds. Further, it solidly shows that this creative phenomenon was not confined to Harlem, but was global in scope.

Watson, Steven. The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930. New York: Pantheon Books, 1995. (700.89 W342)

This concise volume gives one of the best overviews of the Harlem Renaissance. With its concise and very readable format, one does not need to have prior knowledge of the Harlem Renaissance to navigate through the information presented. The sidebars, which include illustrations, Harlem slang, poems, and little known details, add spice to the already interesting text.

"The Chronology: Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1930" (201-208) is a must-read. It adds much to the value and completeness of the volume.

Music and Recreation Division

Floyd, Samuel A., Jr.(editor). Black Music in the Harlem Renaissance: A Collection of Essays. New York: Greenwood Press, 1990. (780.8996 B627)

This volume features essays on a variety of subjects pertaining to African American music during the Harlem Renaissance. The Renaissance is generally treated as a literary movement; however, after one reads the various essays in this volume it is evident that music was extremely important to the movement. An excellent bibliography of the music during the Renaissance is included.

Locke, Alain. The Negro and His Music and Negro Art: Past and Present. New York: Arno Press, 1969. (780.973 L814A)

This classic, by one who is often referred to as the Dean of the Harlem Renaissance, covers an expanse of black music from a period before 1830 to the 1930s. It sheds light on three types of music: folk, popular, and classical. Of particular interest are those chapters (70-142) covering "Jazz and the Jazz Age" and "The Future of Negro Music". The discussion questions that follow each chapter ensure that the essential content is highlighted and comprehended.

Negro Art: Past and Present is also included in this volume. Read chapter VII, "The Negro Takes His Place in American Art" (59-82).

Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans: A History. New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1971. (780.973 S727)

This is an historical survey of the music of Africans Americans dating from 1619. The sections of this volume that are particularly useful for this Guide cover chapters XIII-XV (374-485). The chapters are preceded by a useful chronology of important events beginning with 1920.

Spencer, Jon Michael. The New Negroes and Their Music: The Success of the Harlem Renaissance. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997. (780.8996 S745)

Most studies of the Harlem Renaissance focus on its literature, but Spencer offers the reader a new interpretation of this period by focusing on its music.

Sociology, Education and Government Division

Locke, Alain LeRoy (editor). The New Negro. New York: Atheneum, 1968. (301.4519 L814A4)

This volume, which was edited by Alain Locke, immediately became a definitive anthology of the New Negro movement. It includes the contributions of 34 writers. The following individuals are included: Alain Locke, Rudolph Fisher, Jean Toomer, Zora Neale Hurston, Bruce Nugent, Langston Hughes, Georgia Johnson, Angelina Grimke, Lewis Alexander, Montgomery Gregory, Jessie Fauset, Willis Richardson, Gwendolyn Bennett, and Kelly Miller.

Vincent, Theodore G.(editor). Voices of a Black Nation: Political Journalism in the Harlem Renaissance. Lawrenceville, NJ: African World Press, INC., 1991. (305.896 V889)

"This collection of writings from the black movement press of the twenties and on through the thirties provides valuable insight into the major political and ideological currents among black groups of that time, as well as the means of persuasion employed by black journalists during this significant era." (Chrisman, 16) These historical documents offer insight on where the black press stood on issues and the significant role it has played to record the black struggle during this period.

The Appendix includes a list of African American news agencies, magazines and newspapers of the period.

History and Geography Division

Hill, Anthony. Pages from the Harlem Renaissance: A Chronicle of Performance. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1996. (971.092 J13ZH)

This historical and critical analysis of "J. A Jackson’s Page" in Billboard documents the major accomplishments of black performers of the 1920s in all aspects of show business. Jackson was the first African American to edit a column (1920-1925) in Billboard magazine and we rely on his writings for important information on this vital and significant period in black entertainment.

Philosophy and Religion

Harris, Leonard, editor. The Philosophy of Alain Locke: The Harlem Renaissance and Beyond. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. (191.9 L814ZH)

"In this collection of essays — many previously unpublished — by American philosopher Alain Locke, Harris, in his substantial introduction and… concluding chapter, describes Locke’s life, evaluates his role as an American philosopher and theoretician of the Harlem Renaissance…and outlines his…ideas. This is the first book to focus on Locke’s philosophical contributions." (Callaloo, Fall/1990, 941)

Popular Division

Fauset, Jessie Redmond. The Chinaberry Tree and Selected Writings. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994. (Fiction)

A novel dealing with the private lives of educated colored Americans untouched by any but very casual contacts with whites. The story concerns two cousins, both tainted with the blot of illegitimacy which threatens to wreck their happiness. (Book Review Digest, 1932)

Fauset, Jessie Redmond. Comedy: American Style. New York: AMS Press, [no date]. (Fiction)

The story of a group of near-white colored people living in Philadelphia, and the tragedies which resulted from the short-sightedness of one woman, who herself insisted on "passing" and tried to force her husband and children to do likewise. (Book Review Digest, 1933)

Fauset, Jessie Redmond. Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral. Boston: Beacon Press, 1990. (Fiction)

Angela Morgan is an educated colored girl fair enough to pass as white. Changing her name she goes to New York to live in Greenwich Village, and embarks on an unhappy love affair with a white man. Her younger sister, who is unmistakably colored, also goes to New York, but lives in Harlem and the sisters rarely meet. Anthony Cross enters the lives of both girls but does not know they are sisters. He too is "passing." A complicated situation arises, causing the three much pain before their problems of love and color are adjusted. (Book Review Digest, 1929)

Fauset, Jessie Redmond. There is Confusion. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1989. (Fiction)

The Negro struggling for expression and social betterment is the theme of this book. The Marshalls, a wealthy [and] ambitious family of Negroes, form the nucleus of a group of their race. The story develops around them. There is Joanna Marshall, talented in music and desirous of fame, with her great love for the handsome indolently rebellious Peter Bye, a descendant of an old honored family of slaves. Her stirring up in him of ambition for success and their difficult romance shares the interest with poor little Maggie Ellsworth’s tragedy and subsequent happiness. It is a picture of Negro life as it is lived…among the educated classes. (Book Review Digest, 1924)

Fisher, Rudolph. The Conjure-Man Dies: A Mystery of Dark Harlem. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992. (Fiction)

The Conjure Man Dies is a mystery story that reveals to the reader the urban social world of Harlem as it carries him through a labyrinth of intrigue to the final surprise ending. Rudolph Fisher’s mystery novel is the first of the genre written by a black American, and his achievement serves to challenge the stereotype roles that blacks played in mystery fiction and films of white writers. Fisher’s book is the distant forerunner of the black detective fiction of Chester Himes. (Kellner, The Harlem Renaissance: A Historical Dictionary for the Era)

Hughes, Langston. Not Without Laughter. New York: Macmillan, 1995. (Fiction)

Sandy, son of Annjee and no’count, blues-singing Jim-boy, and grandson of good old Aunt Hager, grows up in a small Kansas town. Sandy’s Aunt Tempy has become a very proper person, aping the ways of white folks and scornful of "niggers’; his young Aunt Harriet is a talented and gay little girl who takes what she wants of pleasure and earns vaudeville success as a blues-singer. Sandy himself is the only one of the family ambitious to finish his education and really do something to help his race. (Book Review Digest, 1930)

Knopf, Mary. The Sleeper Wakes: Harlem Renaissance Stories by Women. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993. (Fiction)

This volume is a collection of twenty-eight stories by fourteen women whose works were published in the major black magazines of the period. Included among this fourteen are: Gwendolyn Bennett (48-54), Marita Bonner (95-123), Jessie Redmon Fauset (1-39), Angelina Weld Grimke (124-145), Zora Neale Hurston (227-249), and Georgia Douglas Johnson (55-59).

The author states that "most of the stories that appear in this anthology were originally printed in African-American magazines during the Harlem Renaissance. And with the exception of the stories by Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, and Marita Bonner, none has been reprinted since its original magazine publication." (Knopf, xv)

The author concentrated on the female writers because there was so little information available as compared to the male writers of the Harlem Renaissance.

See the Biographical Notes (267-272).

Larsen, Nella. Quicksand and Passing. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1986. (Fiction)

Helga Crane is an intelligent, attractive young woman of mixed Negro and Danish blood. She is teaching in a large colored school in the South. Sick of it, she comes to New York to live for a time with a friend in fashionable Harlem. Then follows an interlude in Denmark. Helga refuses a Danish husband and, returning to New York, finds the one man she might have loved already married to her friend. She plunges at last into marriage with a colored evangelist. Her formless ambitions are thereafter stifled in repeated childbirths. (Book Review Digest, 1928)

The story of two fair-skinned Negroes both white enough to be Caucasians. Clare Kendry is living a dangerous life "passing" in white society, and married to a man who is ignorant of her Negro blood. A chance meeting with Irene Redfield, a childhood friend who has remained loyal to her race, inspires Clare with a longing to associate with her own people. The tragic climax occurs at a Harlem party where Clare is discovered by her white husband. (Book Review Digest, 1929)

McCluskey, John A., Jr. City of Refuge: The Collected Stories of Rudolph Fisher. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1991. (Fiction)

The purpose of this volume is to present a collection of the published works of Dr. Rudolph Fisher and to give an overview of his life and of the themes addressed in his fiction.

The title for this collection was taken from Fisher’s first short story, "The City of Refuge," which was first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1925. This story is part of a group of those that dramatize the ambitions and woes of the newcomer to Harlem.

McKay, Claude. Home to Harlem. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987. (Fiction)

Jake Brown drifts home from France to Harlem via England. Harlem is his happy hunting ground for liquor, laughter and love. On Jake’s first night home he meets a little brown girl at the Baltimore cabaret. He loses her in the morning, and searches for her intermittently in all the recesses of Harlem nightlife, until he finds her again. The story has little plot, but gives authentic pictures of the Negro’s own happyland in New York. (Book Review Digest, 1928)

Schuyler, George S. Black No More. New York: Modern Library, 1999. (Fiction)

A satire… on the subject of color and race prejudice in this country. Dr. Crookman, a Negro physician, discovers a depigmentation process whereby, over night, a black man may become a veritable blonde. Since his fees are small, the whole Negro population rapidly turns white, changes names, and intermarries with whites. When the babies come, Dr. Crookman bleaches them, too, in lying-in hospitals. The result is that blondes suffer in time the same prejudices hitherto enjoyed by colored folk; and all the "best" people dye their skins dark to achieve the new exclusive race distinction of a brown complexion. (Book Review Digest, 1931)

Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York; Liveright, 1993. (Fiction)

A Southern miscellany of short stories and sketches— some of them fragmentary, with verses interspersed and one long drama. They all center about the emotional life of the Negro, with the emphasis placed on its sensual side. Georgia and the black belt of Washington form the backgrounds. (Book Review Digest, 1923)

Wall, Cheryl A., editor. Zora Neale Hurston: Novels and Stories. New York: Library of America, 1995. (Fiction)

This volume includes the four novels that were published by Hurston along with a selection of short stories. It includes a Glossary of Harlem Slang (1008-1010).

Along with its companion, …Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings (92 H967a4) one gets the full range and the best of her writings in one set.

White, Walter. Fire in the Flint. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995. (Fiction)

Written by a Georgian [Black], this novel has for its theme the problem of race relations in the South. Dr. Kenneth Harper, intelligent and better educated than most of his white towns-men, comes back from his training in the North to establish a practice in his hometown. His attempt to live by his philosophy of tolerance and friendliness fail utterly. His duties as a doctor quickly bring him to a knowledge of the ignorance, unreasoning hatred and bitter persecution flourishing in the town. His sister’s rape and his brother’s murder rouse him to vengeance. Contrary to his impulses, he nevertheless heeds an urgent call to the bedside of a sick white woman, saves her, and steps out of the house into the hands of a lynching, howling mob of whites who misunderstood his visit. (Book Review Digest, 1924)

Biography Division

Ellington, Edward Kennedy. Music is My Mistress. New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1976. (92 E45)

Ellington’s story is divided into eight acts, each of which is devoted to a long string of friends and musicians. It is the anecdotes about those friends and musicians that move the story and give it its rich texture. The memoirs are every bit Ellington—cosmopolitan, articulate, and full of wit. The appendices are full of his honors and awards, as well as a selective discography.

Hasse, John Edward. Beyond Category: The Life and Genius of Duke Ellington. New York: Da Capo Press, 1995. (92 E45H)

This is an essential Ellington Reader that not only delves into Ellington’s life, but offers an assessment of his musical achievements. The author relied on sources—letters, business records, photographs, and musical manuscripts—in the Duke Ellington archives at the Smithsonian Institution. Both the novice and the devoted fan of Ellington’s music will enjoy this biography.

Hemenway, Robert E. Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1980. (92 H967H)

Hemenway in his beautifully written, well researched, and highly commendable biography accurately presents the life of a highly individualistic Harlem Renaissance writer who was every bit her own woman. In addition, he offers clear, literary criticism. Hurston was ahead of her time in the defense of black culture as being aesthetically rich, although different from white culture. Throughout her life, Zora Neale Hurston remained close to the subjects of her literature, the black masses.

Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: An Autobiography. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993 (92 H8925)

This is an autobiography of the one of the Harlem Renaissance’s better known and possibly the most prolific luminaries. The language and style makes it easy for the reader to follow his many adventures and successes during the early years of the Harlem Renaissance.

Hughes, Langston. I Wonder As I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey. New York: Hill and Wang, 1993. (92 H8925A2)

This second volume of Langston Hughes’ autobiography covers roughly seven years (1931-1938) of his life. This engaging book offers the reader an opportunity to vicariously visit Russia, Spain, China, and Japan through the eyes and adventures of Hughes’ personal narratives.

Kerman, Cynthia E. and Richard Eldridge. The Lives of Jean Toomer: A Hunger for Wholeness. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1989. (92 T672K)

This is a very fine and well-researched literary biography. The authors used extensive primary and secondary materials and interviewed various people who knew Toomer. As the reader will soon discover, "the first striking conclusion by an observer of Toomer’s life is that it was a series of lives, a segmented sequence." (Preface, xiii)

Toomer’s Cane was immediately hailed as a significant work in the Harlem Renaissance. The reader will have an opportunity to delve into Toomer’s life after the publication of this essential Renaissance title.

Robbins, Richard. Sidelines Activist: Charles S. Johnson and the Struggle for Civil Rights. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1996. (92 J6565R)

As research director of the National Urban League, Charles S. Johnson was referred to as an "entrepreneur" of the Harlem Renaissance. Even some of those young artistic literary talents of the period have given deference to him as one of "the midwives" or the Dean of the Renaissance. Johnson’s goal was to "invigorate the arts as a central expression of Negro life." (Robbins, 49)

Wall, Cheryl A. (editor). Folklore, Memoirs, and Other Writings: Zora Neale Hurston. New York: Library of America, 1995. (92 H967A4)

This volume brings together the best of Hurston’s folklore, memoirs, autobiography, and other writings. Along with its companion, Novels and Stories, the reader gets the best of her writings in one set.

Dust Tracks on a Road, her autobiography, is included as she intended for it to be published. Passages that were omitted from the original publishing are included in this edition. These passages were originally not included because of the political controversy that they were expected to generate, and because of their sexual candor.

The Chronology (961-980) provides an interesting insight on the colorful life of a pioneer in African American ethnography and Harlem Renaissance figure.

White, Walter Francis. A Man Called White: The Autobiography of Walter White. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1995. (92 W591)

This is the autobiography of one who rose to the rank of Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). White fought for the rights of Blacks, and spent his entire adult life trying to improve the state of race relations. He also wrote the first definitive text on lynching, The Rope and Faggot, and in so doing he risked his life time and again gathering evidence on lynching, acts of discrimination, and other mistreatments to Blacks. This autobiography gives a vivid view of race relations during the first half of the twentieth century.

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The Black Renaissance in Washington, D.C., 1920-1930s
http://www.dclibrary.org/blkren/ | last updated June 20, 2003