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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Tom Dent papers

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Collection Description (Extant): The papers of Tom Dent provide a rich documentary source in the areas of African American literature and theater, the Civil Rights Movement, and the society and culture of New Orleans. The collection encompasses over 60 linear feet of correspondence, literary manuscripts, oral history interviews, photographs, financial records, and memorabilia generated by one of New Orleans most treasured poets, playwrights, and oral historians.

Dent was a prolific writer of letters, poetry, and prose throughout his lifetime. The papers span over thirty years of African American literature through his correspondence with editors, writers, and artists. The papers are a resource for the topics of the Black Arts Movement, the Free Southern Theater in New Orleans, the Umbra Writers' Workshop, and are rich in narratives about New Orleans society, culture, and the Black community. The papers are a strong source for the study of discrimination and racism in the United States, particularly in the area of the disenfranchisement of Black artists and writers.

Dent's literary works encompass approximately 331 drafts of original poems and 289 journals and notebooks, often focusing on Black identity, New Orleans, and civil rights. Dent also wrote short stories, essays, and book, film, and play reviews, which account for approximately 190 manuscripts in the collection. Other literary projects covered in the collection include the unpublished manuscript drafts of Andrew Young's autobiography, Easy Burden: the Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America and Dent's book Southern Journey: A Return to the Civil Rights Movement. Southern Journey documents historic African American communities and the era of civil rights in what Dent considered the "Deep South," the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Accompanying the manuscripts are approximately 905 audiotapes of oral history interviews used for these two volumes, as well as three grant funded oral history projects, conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focused on the river communities of Louisiana, civil rights workers in Mississippi, and Acadian and jazz musicians of New Orleans. The audiovisual collection also includes numerous poetry readings, lectures, and special events, such as festivals, brass bands, and funerals documenting the uniqueness of New Orleans Black community and culture.

The papers also include photographs, financial records, and collected memorabilia, which are interrelated to Dent's correspondence, literary manuscripts, and the audiovisual collection.

Dent's collection of oral histories, poetry readings, lectures, and performances are extensive, encompassing 905 individual audio recordings dating from 1965 to his passing in 1998. The bulk of the collection documents the modern Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s through three main oral history projects; the Mississippi Oral History Collection (1978-1983), the Andrew Young Oral History Collection (1980-1985), and the Southern Journey Oral History Collection (1992-1997). The main strengths of these interviews are the activities and projects of civil rights workers and organizations, first-hand accounts of police brutality and harassment, and the lives and trials of the African American community during this volatile and intense period in American history. The second focus of the collection is on jazz, particularly New Orleans jazz, the jazz funeral, brass bands, festivals, and local musicians. There are twenty years of recorded performances at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (1974-1994), as well as individual performances at local venues throughout New Orleans. The third focus of the collection is on African American literature in the form of recorded poetry readings and lectures.

The oral history and audiovisual collection has been divided into five sub-series; Mississippi Oral History Collection (1978-1983), the Andrew Young Oral History Collection (1980-1985), the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival Collection (1974-1994), the Southern Journey Oral History Collection (1992-1997), and the Tom Dent Individual Audiovisual Collection (1965-1998). The bulk of the recordings are in the form of standard size audiocassettes, though there are microcassettes, open reel audiotape, and video recordings in VHS format within the collection.

Date(s): 1928-1998

Existing IDs: 117

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Interviewees: Alma S. Adams, James Allen, James Anderson, Elaine Baker, Alvin Benn, Isaiah Bennett, Unita Blackwell, James G. Blake, Jo Anne Bland, Jesse Boone, Harry Bowie, Bob Boyd, Bruce Boynton, Lewis A. Brandon II, Owen H. Brooks, Ed Brown, Millicent Brown, John Buffington, Azikiwe T. Chandler, J. L. Chesnut Jr., C. O. Chinn, Obie Clark, Mignon L. Clyburn, Charlie Cobb, Carolyn Q. Coleman, Stoney Cooks, Samuel Cooper, Robert Costley, Dorothy Cotton, Juanita Sander Cribb, Mary Ann Davidson, Miriam DeCosta-Willis, Dave Dennis, Annie Devine, L. C. Dorsey, Lolis Elie, Mike Espy, Gerald Eubanks, Wilma Falls, Herbert U. Fielding, Alston Fitts, Moses Floyd, Robert Ford, Carl O. Foster, John Hope Franklin, Michael W. Freeman, Harvey Gantt, Warmouth T. Gibbs, Myrtle Glascoe, Ethel J. Grimball, Vertamae Grosvenor, Howard Gunn, Jeffrey Haile, Clarence Hall, Margaret Hammock, Rutha Harris, Sylvester Harris, Mary Hightower, Rickey Hill, Betty Jo Himes, David W. Hodo, Stephen Hoffious, Winston Hudson, Mrs. Winston Hudson, James S. Jackson, Sol Jacobs, Barbara Williams Jenkins, June Johnson, Nelson Johnson, T. Marshall Jones, Walter C. Jones, John Marshall Kilimanjaro, Carol R. King, Kevin Ladaris, Dean B. Livingston, Worth Long, David Mathews, Jack A. McCray, Robert L. Merritt, W. F. Minor, Dick Molpus, Jessie Morris, Michael Moss, Mary A. Moultrie, M. Maceo Nace Jr., George C. Nichols, Peggy Nielson, Chuddy N. Okoye, Willie Peacock, Charles Pernell, Patricia J. Perry, Carver A. Randle, Arleen B. C. Reid, Oliver C. Rice, Fred D. Richardson Jr., Bernice V. Robinson, Norward Rosevelt, Norward Roussell, Henry "Hank" Sanders, Rosa Sanders, Rober T. Saucier, William Saunders, A. C. Searles, Sleve Sellers, Charles M. Sherrod, Hal Sieber, George Simkins, Modjeska Simkins, Shirley Simmons, Jerome Smith, Henrietta Snype, Cornelius Steele, Frank S. Street, Matthew Suarez, James Sulton Sr., Charles W. Tisdale, Albert Turner, Henry L. Twine, Mike Vanderhorst, Johnnie E. Walls Jr., George Washington, Hollis Watkins, Samuel B. Wells, Niamo M. White, Cecil Williams, Curtis L. Williams, Jewel Williams, Jimmy Williams, Andrew Young, Daisy Young, Jean Young, Robert Young, Walter Young, Bob Zellner

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American musicians
African American poets
Civil rights movements--Mississippi
Civil rights movements--Southern States
Deacons for Defense and Justice
Free Southern Theater
Mississippi Freedom Project
Young, Andrew, 1932-


Sound recordings


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   September 26, 2018
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