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Department of African American Studies records

 Collection
Identifier: A118

Scope and Content Note

The collection documents the foundation and development of Northeastern University's Department of African American Studies from its inception in 1973 to 2009. The African-American Institute was heavily involved in the creation and initial support of the Department, and the records reflect the cooperative work of the faculty and staff of the Institute and the Department to design classes and attract students. The records also reflect Northeastern's involvement with the desegregation of the Boston Public Schools in the early 1970s and the Department's work with pilot programs such as the Urban Schools Collaborative. Of particular interest are the records of Department projects including the mid-1990s Nubian Institute which was a summer program designed by the Department and the Museum of Fine Arts to educate Boston-area public school teachers about the history and culture of the region of north Africa historically called ?Nubia,? and the foundation and early development of Project Ujima in the 1970s. Also of special interest are the interviews and performances collected during the Afro-Caribbean Music Project trip to the island of St. Croix. The collection documents the Department-sponsored "Stormy Monday" lectures on current topics in the field of African American studies. The collection also documents the evaluation of Department faculty by their students and includes "Teacher / Course Evaluations" designed by the Student Government Association and administered University-wide, and intra-Departmental "Needs Assessment Surveys" administered solely by the African American Studies faculty. Other topics documented in the collection include course development in the areas of African American political and cultural experience, African history, and diaspora topics; relations with other University departments; staffing; long-term planning; course scheduling; and faculty research. Records include memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, course descriptions, syllabi, event fliers and programs, and department reports.

Dates

  • 1972-2009

Creator

Language of Materials

The collection is entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

Records are closed for 25 years from their date of creation unless researchers have written permission from the creating office. Records containing faculty or student information are closed for 75 years from their date of creation.

Historical Note

The Department of Afro-American Studies was created in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts in response to the demands of Northeastern's African American students and a nation-wide trend towards the foundation of ethnic studies departments. The African-American Institute had been offering courses in ?Black Studies? with a wide variety of topics including music, cultural relations, African history, African American Literature, and Swahili. These courses were consolidated and accredited by the University in the new Department. By the mid-1970s, over 40 courses were offered.

During the 1970s, the Department worked to establish itself and appeal to a wide range of student interests by offering courses on the African American experience in literature, art, music, history, politics, and film. For its first seven years, the Department and the African-American Institute were closely linked, sharing resources and, often, staff members. The Department worked co-operatively with the Institute, the African American Master Artists-in-Residence program, and, after 1972, Project Ujima, a program designed to assist non-traditional college freshmen acclimate to university level work, to provide a variety of services, classes, and events for Northeastern students and the surrounding Roxbury community. When the program was started in 1972, it was known as "The Summer Program" and was not formally named until 1974. In 1975, the Department changed its name to the African American Studies Department.

By 1980, the Department had six faculty members and had broadened its course offerings and relationship to other University departments, offering cross-disciplinary courses with the history and music departments. In the early 1980s, the Department suffered considerable attrition, losing most of its full-time faculty positions and being listed in the course catalog as an "Interdisciplinary Program" rather than as a department. In 1982, there was a motion by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to abolish the Department; after protests by students, Dr. Ozzie Edwards, the head of the Department, and Verdaya Mitchell-Brown, the African-American Institute librarian, the motion was reversed by President Kenneth Ryder. The program was renamed the Department of African American Studies in 1989.

By 1990 the number of full-time faculty members in the African American Studies program had increased and the Department began to reach out to area educators, offering summer institutes for Boston-area teachers on topics in African and African American history and literature. The summer Nubian Institutes, begun in 1993, culminated in the online Nubianet project (www.nubianet.org) and a collaboration with the Education Development Center to develop the DigNubia educational website (www.dignubia.org). In 1994, the Department created the John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program, a companion program to the annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert. The aim of the Outreach Program is to bring live music performance into selected Boston area schools. By the mid-1990s, the Department had 13 faculty members, many of them with cross-disciplinary appointments, including in the history and music departments.

The Department currently has six full-time faculty and draws on a nation-wide scholarly community for visiting scholars and lecturers. The Department also oversees the John Coltrane Memorial Concert, the Stormy Monday colloquia series, and the Model African Union which involve students, staff, and faculty members in cultural and political events. In 2003, a survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranked the Department in the top 15% of African American studies departments for the breadth of courses and the number of science courses offered. In 2008, the Department created the Afro-Caribbean Music Project which gives students a chance to travel and perform field research in the Caribbean during a summer semester. The students work with faculty members at various locations in the Caribbean to capture musical performances and oral histories from musicians, performers, historians, and local public figures.

Chronology

  • 1973 Department founded as Afro-American Studies.
  • 1974 "The Summer Program" institutionalized as Project Ujima.
  • 1975 Name changes to African American Studies Department.
  • 1978 First chair of Department, Ramona Edelin, leaves.
  • 1980s Loses "department" status; called "Interdisciplinary Program."
  • 1989 Name changes to Department of African American Studies.
  • 1993 First Summer Institute on Nubia.
  • 1994 John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program founded.
  • 1998 Co-hosts Ninth International Conference of Nubian Studies with the Museum of Fine Arts.
  • 2003 Survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranks the Department in the top 15% nationally for breadth of courses and number of science courses offered.
  • 2008 Afro-Caribbean Music Project founded.
1973
Department founded as Afro-American Studies.
1974
"The Summer Program" institutionalized as Project Ujima.
1975
Name changes to African American Studies Department.
1978
First chair of Department, Ramona Edelin, leaves.
1980s
Loses "department" status; called "Interdisciplinary Program."
1989
Name changes to Department of African American Studies.
1993
First Summer Institute on Nubia.
1994
John Coltrane Memorial Concert Educational Outreach Program founded.
1998
Co-hosts Ninth International Conference of Nubian Studies with the Museum of Fine Arts.
2003
Survey by the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education ranks the Department in the top 15% nationally for breadth of courses and number of science courses offered.
2008
Afro-Caribbean Music Project founded.

Chronology of Chairs and Coordinators

  • 1973-1978 Ramona Edelin
  • 1978-1979 William D. McLaurin (Acting Chair)
  • 1979-1981 Holly M. Carter (Acting Chair)
  • 1981-1985 Holly M. Carter
  • 1985-1987 Ozzie L. Edwards (Chair and Coordinator)
  • 1987-1991? Leonard Brown (Acting Chair)
  • 1991-1995 Ronald W. Bailey
  • 1995-1997 Patrick Manning (Acting Chair)
  • 1997-1998 Ronald W. Bailey (Acting Chair)
  • 1998-2003 Robert L. Hall
  • 2003-2006 Kwamina Panford
  • 2006-2009 Robert L. Hall (Acting Chair)
  • 2009- Emmett G. Price
1973-1978
Ramona Edelin
1978-1979
William D. McLaurin (Acting Chair)
1979-1981
Holly M. Carter (Acting Chair)
1981-1985
Holly M. Carter
1985-1987
Ozzie L. Edwards (Chair and Coordinator)
1987-1991?
Leonard Brown (Acting Chair)
1991-1995
Ronald W. Bailey
1995-1997
Patrick Manning (Acting Chair)
1997-1998
Ronald W. Bailey (Acting Chair)
1998-2003
Robert L. Hall
2003-2006
Kwamina Panford
2006-2009
Robert L. Hall (Acting Chair)
2009-
Emmett G. Price

Extent

11.25 cubic feet (12 containers)

Overview

The Department of Afro-American Studies was created in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts in response to the demands of Northeastern's African American students and a nation-wide trend towards the foundation of ethnic studies departments. During the 1970s, the Department worked to establish itself and appeal to a wide range of student interests by offering classes on the African American experience in literature, art, music, history, politics, and film. The Department worked co-operatively with the African-American Institute, the African American Master Artists-in-Residence program, and Project Ujima to provide a variety of services, classes, and events for Northeastern students and the surrounding Roxbury community. In 1975, the Department changed its name to the African American Studies Department. By 1980, the Department had six faculty members and had broadened its course offerings and relationships with other University departments, offering cross-disciplinary courses with the history and music departments. In the early 1980s, the Department suffered considerable attrition, losing most of its full-time faculty positions; it was listed in the course catalog as an "Interdisciplinary Program" rather than as a full department. In 1989, department status was regained, and the number of full-time faculty members in the African American Studies program began to increase. The Department began reaching out to area educators, offering summer institutes for Boston-area teachers on topics in African and African American history and literature. The Department currently has six full-time faculty and draws on a nation-wide scholarly community for visiting scholars and lecturers.

Overview

The collection documents the establishment and development of the Department of African American Studies at Northeastern University. Topics documented include course development in the areas of African American political and cultural experience, African history, and diaspora topics; relations with other University departments; staffing; long-term planning; course scheduling; faculty research; and student evaluation of courses and professors. Records include memoranda, correspondence, meeting minutes, course descriptions, syllabi, event fliers and programs, and department reports.

System of Arrangement:

Arranged in 2 series: 1. Administration; and 2. Faculty and Courses.

Technical Access:

One DVD in Box 13 cannot be opened.

Physical Location

33/3, 34/1-2

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Transferred from the Department of African American Studies.

Bibliography

  • "Department of African American Studies: Afro-Caribbean Music Research Project (ACMRP)," http://www.northeastern.edu/daas/initiatives/music_research/ (accessed July 2010).
  • "Department of African American Studies: History," http://www.northeastern.edu/daas/about/history/ (accessed June 2010).
  • "John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute: History," http://www.northeastern.edu/aai/history.html (accessed June 2010).
  • "John D. O'Bryant African-American Institute: Ujima Scholars," http://www.northeastern.edu/aai/Ujima_Scholars.html (accessed June 2010).
Title
Finding aid for the Department of African American Studies Records
Author
Finding aid prepared by Hanna Clutterbuck
Date
September 2010
Language of description
Description is in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Contact:
92 Snell Library
Northeastern University
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US