by Angela McMillian, Digital Reference Specialist
African-American expressions of writing, music, and art during
the 1920s and 1930s are well represented in the vast collections
of the Library of Congress. This guide presents the Library's
resources as well as links to external Web sites on the Harlem
Renaissance and a bibliography.
Library of Congress Web Site | External
Web Sites | Selected Bibliography
Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project,
These life histories were collected and transcribed
by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers'
Project for the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects)
Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. The Library of
Congress collection includes 2,900 documents representing
the work of more than 300 writers from 24 states. The
collection includes interviews relating to the Harlem
Renaissance entitled "Harlem
Rent Parties" and "The
Whites Invade Harlem." Search on the word Harlem in order to locate other life histories
Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives
The black-and-white photographs of the Farm Security
Administration-Office of War Information Collection are
a landmark in the history of documentary photography.
The images show Americans at home, at work, and at play,
with an emphasis on rural and small-town life and the
adverse effects of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl,
and increasing farm mechanization. Search this collection, using the keyword Harlem, to locate photographs
related to Harlem.
Mosaic: The John and Ruby Lomax 1939 Southern States Recording
The collection includes nearly 700 sound recordings,
as well as fieldnotes, dust jackets, and other manuscripts
documenting a three-month, 6,502-mile trip through the
southern United States.
P. Gottlieb: Photographs from the Golden Age of Jazz
The collection consists of jazz photographs taken by
writer-photographer William P. Gottlieb, from 1938 to
1948, the "Golden Age of Jazz" when swing reached
its peak and modern jazz developed. Gottlieb's photographs
are perhaps the most widely reproduced images of jazz
musicians, such as Louis
Fitzgerald, and Benny
Van Vechten Collection
The collection consists of 1,395 photographs taken by
American photographer Carl Van Vechten (1880-1964) between
1932 and 1964. The bulk of the collection consists of
portrait photographs of celebrities, including many figures
from the Harlem Renaissance.
Zora Neale Hurston Plays at the Library of Congress
The collection includes a selection of ten plays written
by Hurston (1891-1960), author, anthropologist, and folklorist.
The plays reflect Hurston's life experience, travels,
and research, especially her study of folklore in the
Back in Time: James Weldon Johnson Was Born, June 17, 1871
Back in Time: Bill "Bojangles" Robinson Was Born,
May 25, 1878
Back in Time: Jazz Giant Louis Armstrong Was Born, August
Back in Time: Langston Hughes Was Born, February 1, 1902
Back in TIme: Mahalia Jackson Was Born, October 26, 1911
Back in Time: Billie Holiday Was Born, April 7, 1915
Back in Time: Ella Fitzgerald Was Born, April 25, 1918
Back in Time: Novelist, Essayist, and Playwright James Baldwin
Was Born, August 2, 1924
Back in TIme: Leontyne Price Was Born, February 10, 1927
Back in Time: Dizzy Gillespie Died, January 6, 1993
Amazing Americans: Duke Ellington
Amazing Americans: Langston Hughes
Odyssey: World War I and Postwar Society: The Harlem Renaissance
and the Flowering of American Creativity
This exhibition section from the African American Odyssey
special presentation includes resources about the Harlem
Treasures of the Library of Congress - Langston Hughes Requests
Loan for Tuition
In 1925, Langston Hughes requested a loan from the NAACP
to pay his college tuition. This is his letter and its
Treasures of the Library of Congress - William H. Johnson,
William H. Johnson arrived in Harlem in1918 from Florence,
South Carolina, at the onset of the Harlem Renaissance.
Considered a major American artist, he attended the National
Academy of Arts and studies under Charles Hawthorne.
Space: Fifty Years of Robert Blackburn's Printmaking Workshop:
Milieu: The Harlem Community Art Center and the WPA
This exhibition includes information about Robert Blackburn
and his contribution during the Harlem Renaissance era.
This exhibit offers perspectives on the art of vocal jazz from the 1920s to the present. Drawn largely from the Library of Congress Music Division’s collections, including the photographs of William P. Gottlieb and the papers of Max Roach, Chet Baker, and Shirley Horn, among others, it features singers and song stylists from both on-stage and off.
LC Poetry specialist David Kresh discusses "Langston
Hughes and His Poetry"
and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC)
Find images of artists, musicians, poets, and writers
who contributed to the Harlem Renaissance. Suggested search
terms are: Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, Langston Hughes,
and Zora Neale Hurston.
Features and Activities
The Changing Face of America
This feature presentation introduces teachers and students
to the topic of Immigration. The "Artistic
Rebirth" page mentions African Americans who
contributed to the Harlem Renaissance era.
Found Poetry with Primary Sources: The Great Depression
Students explore poetry using the
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal
Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection of American
Memory, which covers personal stories collected by the
Works Progress Administration. The collection includes
interviews relating to the Harlem Renaissance.
1900 America: Primary Sources and Epic Poetry
To better understand the turn-of-the-century United States,
this interdisciplinary lesson integrates use of primary
resources with historical and literary analysis. Students
explore interviews relating to the Harlem Renassiance
American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal
Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection.
Access historic documents related to literature and poetry including selected Walt Whitman notebooks, digitized rare books, and presentations on a variety of literary figures ranging from Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley to Edgar Allan Poe and Ernest Hemingway.
Poet, diplomat, songwriter, and anthologist of black
culture James Weldon Johnson was born on June 17, 1871,
in Jacksonville, Florida.
Legendary tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
was born on May 25, 1878, in Richmond, Virginia.
Novelist, folklorist, dramatist, and anthropologist Zora
Neale Hurston was born on January 7, 1891, in Eatonville,
Florida, the first incorporated black town in the United
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington, often said
to be America's greatest composer, bandleader, and recording
artist, was born on April 29, 1899, in Washington, D.C.
Poet and writer Langston Hughes, famous for his elucidations
of black American life in his poems, stories, autobiographies,
and histories, was born in Joplin, Missouri, on February
Mahalia Jackson, the "Queen of Gospel Song,"
was born in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The publication of William Christopher Handy's 'Memphis
Blues' changed the course of American popular song.
Jazz singer Billie Holiday was born on April 7, 1915,
in Baltimore, Maryland.
Ella Fitzgerald was born on April 25, 1918, in Newport
Novelist, essayist, and playwright James Baldwin was
born on August 2, 1924, in New York City
Lyric soprano Leontyne Price was born in Laurel, Mississippi.
George Gershwin completes the orchestral score of the
opera Porgy and Bess.
Legendary jazz pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton
Famed contralto Marian Anderson made her debut at the
Metropolitan Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955
as, Ulrica in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera.
Dizzy Gillespie, the last of the primary originators
of Be-Bop jazz, died in Englewood, New Jersey.
African American Sheet Music from the John Hay Library at Brown University
This collection consists of 1,305 pieces of African-American
sheet music dating from 1850 through 1920. The collection
includes many songs from the heyday of antebellum blackface
minstrelsy in the 1850s and from the abolitionist movement
of the same period. The collection includes "You
can take your trunk and go to Harlem", by Joseph
the Harlem Renaissance
This Web site provides an introduction to the exhibition
Rhapsodies in Black: Art of the Harlem Renaissance, curated
by David A. Bailey and Richard J. Powell and organized
by the Hayward Gallery, London in collaboration with the
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., and the Institute
of International Visual Arts (inIVA). The Web site does
not seek to be "encyclopedic" in its scope but
rather seeks to provide a brief introduction to the exhibition
and its critical and curatorial framework through a small
selection of images and soundbites drawn primarily from
the exhibition catalogue essays.
1900-1940: An African-American Community
This exhibit, which was originally published the Schomburg
Center for Black Culture, New York Public Library, in
1991 traces the history of the urban experience in Harlem's
early days through graphic and photographic images.
History, from Columbia University
Harlem History presents a wealth of archival treasures
and scholarship from Columbia about the history of one
of the world's most famous and influential neighborhoods.
Primary source material related to the Harlem Renaissance
can be found under the link for “arts
The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) Web site features
a transcript of the February 20, 1998, television program
"Harlem Renaissance" that was broadcast as part
of the PBS "Newshour Forum. The program highlights
an exhibit in San Francisco that explored the artistic
and cultural legacies of the 1920s and 1930s. Discusses
the art and culture of the Harlem Renaissance and profiles
African-American artists of the period.
Beckman, Wendy Hart. Artists and Writers of the Harlem
Renaissance. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers,
Bloom, Harold, ed. The Harlem Renaissance. Philadelphia:
Chelsea House Publishers, 2004. [Catalog
Carroll, Anne Elizabeth. Word, Image, and the New Negro:
Representation and Identity in the Harlem Renaissance.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005. [Catalog
Jones, Sharon L. Rereading the Harlem Renaissance:
Race, Class, and Gender in the Fction of Jessie Fauset,
Zora Neale Hurston, and Dorothy West. Westport, CT:
Greenwood Press, 2002. [Catalog
Krasner, David. A Beautiful Pageant: African American
Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance,
1910-1927. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002. [Catalog
Schumacher, Julie A., ed. The Harlem Renaissance.
Logan, IA: Perfection Learning, 2001. [Catalog
Gaines, Ann Graham. The Harlem Renaissance in American
History. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2002.
Hardy, P. Stephen. Extraordinary People of the Harlem
Renaissance. New York: Children's Press, 2000. [Catalog
Haskins, Jim. Black Stars of the Harlem Renaissance.
New York: Wiley, 2002. [Catalog
Hudson, Cheryl Willis. The Harlem Renaissance: Profiles
in Creativity. New York: Newbridge Educational Pub.,
Jordan, Denise. Harlem Renaissance Artists. Chicago,
IL: Heinemann Library, 2003. [Catalog
Koopmans, Andy. The Harlem Renaissance. Farmington
Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2006. [Catalog
Raatma, Lucia. The Harlem Renaissance: A Celebration
of Creativity. Chanhassen, MN: Child’s World,