Katherine Dunham papers, 1906-2009 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center
Belafonte, Harry, 1927- - Correspondence
Duke, Doris, 1912-1993 - Correspondence
Dunham, Katherine - Correspondence
Handy, W.C., 1873-1978. - Correspondence
Langston, C.H. (Charles Hughes) 1821? - Correspondence
McQueen, Butterfly. - Correspondence
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976. - Correspondence
The Katherine Dunham Papers consists of correspondence, writings, scripts, notes on dance techniques, and musical scores that illuminate the extraordinary journey of a woman who changed the face of American modern dance. Her collection documents all aspects of her varied experience as an African-American anthropologist, dancer, choreographer, and educator.
Her personal correspondence makes up the bulk of this collection. Among others, notable correspondents include Josephine Baker, Harry Belefonte, Doris Duke, W.C. Handy, Langston Hughes, Eartha Kitt, Butterfly McQueen, Anthony Quinn, and Paul Robeson.
This Collection also highlights Dunham's early explorations as an anthropologist in the 1930s when she studied a multitude of movement types and dance forms. However, it is Dunham's focus on the movements and dances of the African Diaspora that so influenced her development as a performer, choreographer, and teacher. Her papers also contain examples of music from her field research from Haiti recorded by Dunham and others.
Additionally, the collection consists of photographs documenting Dunham's remarkable career as a performer and choreographer for her company, which introduced African and Caribbean dance movement to the American public, as well as her manuscripts related to her published works The Dances of Haiti, Journey to Accompong, Island Possessed, and The Negro Dance.
Series 1: Correspondence, 1906-2005, 2009
Series 2: Dunham Company, School, Performing Arts Training Center, and Museum Records, circa 1927-2003
Series 3: Manuscripts and Printed Materials, 1921-2006
Series 4: Sheet Music
Series 5: Collected Art, circa 1870s-1967, 2000
Series 6: Photographs, Film, and Audio
Series 7: Biographical Information, Scrapbooks, Notes, Calendars, Memorabilia, 1936-1998