Countee Cullen/Harold Jackman Collection
1880-1995 (bulk dates 1929-1990)
65 linear feet
This collection was established in 1942 by Harold Jackman (b. 1901 d. 1961), a New York City teacher, fashion model, theater director, and patron of the arts. Born in London, Jackman was educated in New York City public schools, where in high school he began a lifetime friendship with Countee Cullen. Harold Jackman received a B.A. degree from New York University in 1923 and subsequently received a master's degree from Columbia University. A dedicated teacher, Jackman taught social studies for thirty years in the New York Public Schools system. He was active in many organizations including the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the NAACP, National Urban League, American Society of African Culture, and the Ira Aldridge Society. He was a life member and served on the executive board of the Negro Actors Guild. He was also a contributing editor to Phylon from 1944-1956 and an advisory editor from 1957-1961. Jackman was a strong advocate for the arts and was a constant source of support for African American artists, encouraging them and promoting their careers.
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Jackman was a friend of Carl Van Vechten, New York arts critic, novelist, photographer, and arts patron. He helped Van Vechten to build the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters at Yale University, making donations and asking others to do so. At the encouragement of a friend, Jackman decided to establish a similar documentation program at Atlanta University. Gleaning materials from his personal library, the Harold Jackman Collection of Contemporary Negro Life was established. Jackman continued to build the collection by acquiring materials through gifts and purchases and encouraging others including the artists themselves, to donate materials. In 1946, Jackman requested the collection be renamed the Countee Cullen Memorial Collection in honor of the noted Harlem Renaissance poet. At the death of Harold Jackman, in 1961, his sister Ivie Jackman formed the Harold Jackman Memorial Committee to carry on his work. Subsequently, the collection was renamed to honor both Cullen and Jackman.
The Countee Cullen/Harold Jackman Memorial Collection documents the black experience in the twentieth century with a particular focus on African American contributions to literature and the arts. However, there are a few published printed materials that date in the late nineteenth century. The materials are arranged in folders by the name of the individual or organization, or title of an event or publication. The documentation about the subject may consist of one item to several folders of materials and contain simply newspaper clippings or correspondence and original manuscripts. The collection includes programs, letters, printer's proofs, book reviews, pamphlets, periodicals, broadsides, sheet music, handbills, photographs, and handwritten and typed manuscripts. Many of the items are autographed. A significant portion of the collection documents Harlem Renaissance artists, however, the collection covers a broad range of individuals and topics and spans the twentieth century. Included in the collection are files on such notables as James Baldwin, Horace Mann Bond, Arna Bontemps, Nancy Cunard, Owen Dodson, W.E.B. DuBois, Katherine Dunham, Langston Hughes, Rose McClendon, Paul and Eslanda Robeson, and Leigh Whipper. Among the photographs are a large number of images of Harlem Renaissance artists photographed by Carl Van Vechten. Of interest are the limited editions and rare periodicals and newsletters such as Fire, The Negro Actors Guild of America Inc. Newsletter, The Handy News, and The Negro Theater Spotlight.
There are 91 audiotapes recorded in the 1970s of conferences, lectures, and some interviews of individuals including an effort by the Harold Jackman Memorial Committee to document remembrances of the Harlem Renaissance. Folders of personal papers about Harold Jackman give insight to his life and career. There are also a few folders of materials on Countee Cullen that include 31 letters and postcards, typescripts of two plays and two poems, news clippings and programs. Many books accompanied the donations and these are cataloged among the titles in the Archives and Special Collections.
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