Friday, December 15, 2006

Museum in the Works for Extraordinary Collection

Yesterday the New York Times reported on a massive and marvelous collection of materials relating to African-American history which had been accumulated over many years by university librarian Mayme Agnew Clayton. Ms. Clayton, who died earlier this year, had collected more than 30,000 rare books by and about blacks, as well as "the world’s largest collection of 16-mm films made by blacks; 75,000 photographs; 9,500 sound recordings; and tens of thousands of documents, manuscripts and correspondence." Her son Avery is now working to create a museum and research center in Culver City, CA where the materials can be archived and displayed.

Highlights of the collection include a signed first edition of Phillis Wheatley's 1773 Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, and rare copies of works by Langston Hughes and other Harlem Renaissance figures. However, the distinctiveness of this collection is in its breadth and depth; experts told the Times the collection is "unmatched on the West Coast."