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Exhibition Highlights Collaboration of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute and Houghton Library

"A Working Partnership: Acquisitions Made with the Assistance of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute" opened September 3 in the Amy Lowell Room, Houghton Library. The exhibition features material acquired through an unprecedented relationship between Houghton Library and the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute. Over the past ten years, the two units have worked closely together to obtain collections that support research in African and African-American history and literature, such as the Chinua Achebe papers and the Albert Murray papers.

Henry Louis (Skip) Gates, Jr., recognized early in his tenure as director of the W. E. B.Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research that a strong research collection was part of the foundation of a strong Afro-American program and initiated the partnership between Houghton and his department, with both contributing towards acquiring and providing intellectual access to manuscripts, personal papers, and rare materials. The Du Bois Institute has a similar acquisitions agreement with Radcliffe's Schlesinger Library, where joint acquistions include the papers of Shirley Graham Du Bois and, most recently, June Jordan. See Schlesinger Acquires June Jordan Papers

Leslie Morris, curator of manuscripts in the Harvard College Library, said, "This is truly a unique relationship for Houghton—with no other department do we receive financial support. Ultimately, the Institute and the Library are interested in the same thing: building the depth and breadth of the research collection."

On display is a rare letter from Polly Carter, mother and slave, to her son Hamilton Carter, servant, written during the Civil War, which begins, "We have all kept well this summer both white & black have not been visited by the Yankees tho' they have been prowling about in the County." The exhibition includes a letter from William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois to leftist writer Anna Melissa Graves. Du Bois was an early leader in the 20th-century African-American protest movement, an advocate of pan-Africanism, and a Harvard graduate. In the letter, Du Bois expresses his views on Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, and the left-wing writer Hanna Louise Strong. Also featured are autograph manuscripts of Chinua Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah and John Edgar Wideman's Brothers and Keepers.

"A Working Partnership: Acquisitions Made with the Assistance of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute" runs through November 26. For details, call Leslie Morris at 5-2449.

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Last modified on Monday, November 17, 2003.