James Lowell Gibbs Collection of African-American documents, 1865-1918

Collection Number: 4506

Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections
Cornell University Library


DESCRIPTIVE SUMMARY

Title:
James Lowell Gibbs collection of African-American documents, 1865-1918
Collection Number:
4506
Creator:
James Lowell Gibbs.
Quantity:
22 items
Forms of Material:
Letters, a photograph, and miscellaneous printed materials.
Repository:
Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
Abstract:
Letters from prominent individuals, some of whom were African Americans, and other related materials.
Language:
Collection material in English


COLLECTION DESCRIPTION

Includes a letter and clippings to Judge W.E. Ambler from John Langston of the House of Representatives, 1890 (copy); letter, photograph, and clipping from W. Willis Menard, African-American member of the House of Representatives, 1892; letter from Edward W. Bemis, School of History and Economics, Vanderbilt University, 1892; letter, with enclosures from Rev. J.C. Price, founder and first president of Livingstone College, 1892; and typed letter from Charles Chesnutt, 1918. Letters to Charles Chesnutt include a handwritten letter (copy) from W.E.B. DuBois in which he discusses his intention to found a magazine, 1903; letter from Kelly Miller, 1903; typed letter from Charles N. Anderson of the Coney Island Jockey Club, 1902; and printed card with an excerpt from his The Marrow of Tradition, signed by Chesnutt (copy). Other letters include a post card and note from Blanche K. Bruce, 1871; letter from William Still to Karl Kotz, 1883; note from Wallace Bruce (U.S. Consul in Edinburgh) to Mr. and Mrs. Angus, 1893; letter from J.W. Rainey, first African-American Congressman, to the President recommending a Henry Noah for the position of Collector of Customs in Charleston, 1887.
Also, a letter from Gerard Ralston, Consul General of Liberia to [Stalerman], 1865 (copy); a letter from black poet Fenton Johnson to Stanley K. Faye, 1915. Also, undated clipping describing a visit to Oberlin of delegates to an NAACP convention in Cleveland; clipping and autograph of black British composer Samuel Taylor-Coleridge; engraving and autograph of Booker T. Washington (copy).

HISTORY OF OWNERSHIP

Collection was formed around a core of materials probably originally collected by Judge W.E. Ambler of Cleveland, who solicited letters or documents from prominent individuals, some of whom were African Americans. Apparently, at a later date, the black writer Charles Chesnutt became involved in the project and also solicited such letters from African-Americans. Eventually, the collection came into the possession of James Lowell Gibbs, whose children donated it to Cornell University in his memory. Copied items were returned to donors.
SUBJECTS

Names:
Gibbs, James Lowell.
Ambler, W. E.
Chesnutt, Charles Waddell, 1858-1932.
Menard, John Willis, 1838-1893.
Price, Joseph St. Clair, 1888-1975.
Bruce, Blanche Kelso, 1841-1898.
Scott, I. B.
Ralston, Gerard.
Langston, John Mercer, 1829-1897.
Bemis, Edward Webster, 1860-1930.
Anderson, Charles N.
Still, William, 1821-1902.
Bruce, Wallace, 1844-1914.
Rainey, J. W.
Johnson, Fenton, 1888-1958.
Du Bois, W. E. B. (William Edward Burghardt), 1868-1963.
Miller, Kelly, 1863-1939.
Washington, Booker T., 1856-1915.
Coleridge-Taylor, Samuel, 1875-1912.
Livingstone College.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Oberlin College.

Subjects:
African American authors.
African American legislators.
African Americans--History--1877-1964.

Places:
Liberia.


INFORMATION FOR USERS

Cite As:
James Lowell Gibbs Collection of African-American documents, #4506. Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

CONTAINER LIST

Container
Description
Series I. Documents about Chesnutt
Box 1 1
Typed letter dated Dec. 3, 1902 to Chesnutt from Charles N. Anderson of the Coney Island Jockey Club (New York City). Letter praises Chesnutt's books.
Box 1 2
Typed letter dated June 10, 1918 from Chesnutt to W. E. Ambler. Routine business letter telling Ambler that he can pick up the things he has requested.
Box 1 3
Printed placard (needs restoration) of an excerpt, "When We Turn to God," from Chesnutt's In the Marrow of Tradition. Signed by Chesnutt. (Original returned to donor Aug. 10, 1995.)
Series II. Letters to Ambler
Box 1 4
Handwritten letter dated Dec. 5, 1890 to Ambler (at Pentwater, Michigan) from John Langston of the House of Representatives. Enclosure: two newspaper clippings of unknown date or provenance on Langston. One is titled "Virginia's Colored Representative" and the other, a profile more of Langston's wife, has no heading.
Box 1 5
Letter dated Feb. 13, 1892 to Ambler from J. Willis Menard, House of Representatives. He refers to himself as "the Congressional pioneer of my race" (although he, evidently, was not the first black congressman).
Box 1 6
Packet postmarked Feb. 14, 1892 to Ambler from Menard which contains a signed photograph of him and a newspaper clipping about him as "the First Colored Congressman," from the Baltimore American. The date of the paper is not clear. Note that this packet contains a pencilled transcription of item number 5. Is the transcription in Ambler's hand?
Box 1 7
Handwritten letter dated June 16, 1992 to Ambler from Edward W. Bemis, School of History and Economics at Vanderbilt. (Bemis apparently was about to become Associate Professor at the University of Chicago.)
Box 1 8
Handwritten letter dated July 18, 1892 to Ambler from Rev. J. C. Price, founder and first president of Livingston College. He promises to send something for the autograph gallery.
Box 1 8a
Enclosure: Handwritten cover note dated Sept. 22, 1892 saying that he hopes the other enclosures are what Ambler wants.
Box 1 8b
Enclosure: Handwritten comment on "The Southern Problem." On the same Livingstone College note-sized letterhead, but without a salutation.
Box 1 8c
Enclosure: Same letterhead, same date. Handwritten note to a Mr. Farley of the Richmond Photograph Company, instructing him to send a photograph to Ambler.
Box 1 8d
Enclosure: Newspaper or magazine clipping of unknown date or provenance, a brief biographical sketch of Price.
Series III. Letters to persons other than Ambler or Chesnutt (probably obtained by Ambler under his early autograph gallery effort)
Box 1 9
Handwritten postal card (no year indicated, but postmarked Mar. 1) from Blanche K. Bruce to J. D. Dafree, Government Printer. Provides the latter with an address correction. (Bruce was the first black to be a Senator.) Attached is a picture of Bruce clipped from a contemporary magazine.)
Box 1 10
Handwritten note dated July 20, 1871 (76?) from Blanche K. Bruce to the Superintendent of Documents instructing the latter to deliver a copy of the medical history of the (civil) war to a Mr. Collins.
Box 1 11
Handwritten letter dated Nov. 7, 1883 from William Still to Karl Knotz in which Still promises to send the latter a copy of the newly revised edition of Underground Railway.
Box 1 12
Handwritten note dated July 20, 1893 from Wallace Bruce (U. S. Consul in Edinburgh) to a Mr. and Mrs. Angus.
Box 1 13
Handwritten letter dated Dec. 8, 1887 from J. W. Rainey, first black Congressman, to the President, recommending a Henry Noah for the position of Collector of Customs in Charleston. Evidently Rainey was ex-Congressman at the time he wrote.
Box 1 14
Letter dated May 22, 1915 from Fenton Johnson (black poet) to Stanley K. Faye, Literary Editor of the Chicago Daily News, concerning an appraisal of one of Johnson's books.
Box 1 15
Handwritten letter of Aug. 31, 1865 (from London) from Gerard Ralston, Consul General of Liberia to an unverifiable person. (Original returned to donor, Aug. 10, 1995.)
Series IV. Letters to Chesnutt
Box 1 16
Handwritten letter dated July 16, 1903 to Chesnutt from W. E. B. DuBois in which he discusses his intention to found a magazine (which he later did, the Crisis). (Returned to donor, Aug. 10, 1995).
Box 1 17
Handwritten letter dated Oct. 5, 1903 to Chesnutt from Kelly Miller.
Box 1 18
Typed letter, dated Oct. 26, 1903 to Chesnutt from Booker T. Washington (with brief handwritten postscript).
Series V. Other materials--not addressed to anyone in particular
Box 1 19
Undated clipping from unidentified paper describing visit to Oberlin of delegates to an NAACP convention in Cleveland.
Box 1 20
Undated signature on a card by the black British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Has attached photograph clipped from a contemporary magazine.
Box 1 21
Engraving of a young Booker T. Washington with an attached card with autograph, dated Mar. 3, 1903 . (Is the date in the same hand as the signature?) (Original returned to donor, Aug. 10, 1995)
Box 1 22
Two photographs from contemporary magazines of Bishop I. B. Scott. One of the photos includes autobiographical information. There also is a sheet with a brief inscription and autograph.