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Ralph Ellison Collection

The personal library and collections of Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison / Gordon Parks. From the Prints and Photograph Division

Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914-1994) was born in Oklahoma City and studied at Tuskegee Institute in 1933-36. During the Depression he participated in the New York City Writers' Project under the Works Progress Administration. He served with the U.S. Merchant Marine from 1943 to 1945 and married Fanny McConnell in 1946. During a long and distinguished literary career he taught at the following universities and colleges: Bard (1958-61), Chicago (1961), Rutgers (1962-64), Yale (1966), and New York University (1970-79), as well as Columbia, Fisk, Antioch, Princeton and Bennington. He served as the Library of Congress' Honorary Consultant in American Letters from 1966 to 1972.

Although Ellison published a number of short stories and numerous essays, including the collections Shadow and Act (1964) and Going to the Territory (1986), much of his reputation rests on the novel Invisible Man. Published in 1952, this novel became the pioneer work of fiction for the genre of African American literature. It won the National Book Award in 1953 and can be credited with stimulating a vital strain of ethnic fiction, drama and poetry in the United States that has flourished since. Ellison's seminal novel portrays the inner realities of a black youth as he moves from the South to the North and then underground. It is considered a major achievement in both American and world literature.

See the Manuscript Division's Ralph Ellison Collection.

Also see the finding aid: the Ralph Ellison Collection, (1937-2010) [View Finding aid] [PDF:2.21 MB] 355 pages


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  January 12, 2017
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