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Katherine Dunham papers

Overview

Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Adminstrative Information

Detailed Description

Correspondence

Dunham Company, School, Performing Arts Training Center, and Museum Records

Manuscripts and Printed Materials

Sheet Music

Collected Art

Photographs, Film, and Audio

Biographical Information, Scrapbooks, Notes, Calendars, Memorabilia


Katherine Dunham papers, 1906-2009 | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

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Collection Overview

Title: Katherine Dunham papers, 1906-2009Add to your cart.View associated digital content.

Predominant Dates:1919-2005

ID: 3/RG 4/FP 20-7-F1

Primary Creator: Dunham, Katherine

Extent: 80.0 Cubic Feet

Arrangement: Organized into seven series:  (1) Correspondence; (2) Dunham Company, School, Performing Arts Training Center, and Museum Records; (3) Manuscripts and printed materials; (4) Sheet Music; (5) Collected Art; (6) Photographs, film, audio recordings; and (7) Biographical Information, Scrapbooks, Notes, Calendars.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1968. More info below under Accruals.

Subjects: Dance - Anthropological aspects - Haiti, Dancers - United States, Folk music - Caribbean area, Haiti - Social life and customs, Katherine Dunham Company, Quinn, Anthony, 1915-2001, Voodooism

Forms of Material: Baker, Josephine - Correspondence, 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, Photographs, Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976. - Correspondence, Scores., Scrapbooks, Sound recordings

Languages: English, Haitian;HaitianCreole, French

Scope and Contents of the Materials

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 Belafonte, 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.

Biographical Note

Anthropologist-dancer-choreographer, Katherine Mary Dunham was born in Chicago, June 22, 1909, the second child of Fanny June (Taylor) and Albert Millard Dunham who was a tailor and dry cleaner.  Katherine's mother died while she and her brother Albert Jr. were quite young, and several years later her father married Annette Poindexter, a schoolteacher from Iowa.  The family settled in Joliet, Illinois.

In 1928 Miss Dunham entered the University of Chicago where she majored in anthropology with emphasis on dance and its relation to cultures.  Dunham’s first public appearance as a dancer was at the Chicago Beaux Arts Ball in “A Negro Rhapsody” in 1931.  Her theatrical career matured in 1934 with her role of Reba in "Run Little Chillun” which she also directed.  That year Dunham danced with the Chicago Symphony's "La Guiablesse," appeared at the Abraham Lincoln Center for two weeks with the Negro Dance Group which she had established, and danced at the Chicago World's Fair.  She also began her first dance school, the Chicago Negro School of Ballet.  From 1935-1936, she received a fellowship form the Rosenwald and Guggenheim Foundations to do master's thesis research in Jamaica and Haiti analyzing native dances.  This research resulted in The Dances of Haiti (in Spanish and French), Island Possessed, Journey to Accompong, several articles, and a wealth of theatrical material.  Dunham married John T. Pratt on July 10, 1939 in Tecate, Mexico.  They adopted a daughter, Marie-Christine Dunham Pratt, when she was fourteen months old.  In 1950, she completed the purchase of an 18-acre tract of land near Port-au-Prince once owned by Pauline Bonaparte LeClerc and which contained the remains of her residence.

Dunham performed worldwide.  Some of her notable dance/choreography productions include “L’Ag’Ya” (1938), “Tropical Pinafore” (1939), “Le Jazz Hot,” “Tropics,” “Tropical Review” (1943), “Carib Song” (1945), “Bal Negre” (1946), “New Tropical Review” (1948), “Cakewalk” (1955), “Banboche!” (1962), “Caribbean Rhapsody” (1963), “Aida” (1963), and “Faust” (1965).  She also established several dance schools such as the Dunham School of Dance and Theatre in 1945, which later became the Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research.  By 1966, she had schools in New York City (440 W. 42nd. St.) Stockholm, Paris, and Rome.

Katherine Dunham's relationship with Southern Illinois University (SIU) began July 23, 1964, when she was invited by the Vice President for Instruction, Charles D. Tenney, to spend an 11-week period as artist-in-residence.  Clifford Fears, the director of that dance school, was a former member of her troupe.  The culmination of her 11-week period at Southern Illinois University was the opera Faust, staged in February 1965.  Her tenure at SIU was interrupted in March 1965 with her appointment to the Harlem Cultural Council Steering Committee, and work in Paris doing choreography for “Deux Angles.  That same year she proposed a pilot project to the Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) for East St. Louis.  She again resumed her association with Southern Illinois University in June 1967 as a visiting artist in the Fine Arts Division at the Edwardsville campus.  In December 1967 she was appointed Cultural Affairs Consultant in Public Administration and Metropolitan Affairs.

Katherine Dunham was also a social activist.  During a performance of “Tropical Review” in Louisville, Kentucky in 1944 she announced to the audience that she would not be back in Louisville until segregation in that theater was ended.  That same year she brought a discrimination lawsuit against the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago.  In 1950 she sued a Sao Paulo hotel for discrimination which eventually resulted in a national law forbidding racial discrimination in places of public accommodation.  Additionally, at her Haitian home, Dunham began a clinic called Habitation LeClerc for hungry and diseased Haitians.

Through the years she maintained her association with the sciences as well as the arts.  She was a member of the Women's Honorary Science Fraternity (1939) and the Royal Society of Anthropology, London.  Ms. Dunham died on May 21, 2006.

Subject/Index Terms

Dance - Anthropological aspects - Haiti
Dancers - United States
Folk music - Caribbean area
Haiti - Social life and customs
Katherine Dunham Company
Quinn, Anthony, 1915-2001
Voodooism

Administrative Information

Repository: Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Accruals: Accession 799 received in 2007; Accession 787 received in November 2008; Accession 988 received on October 26, 2011; Accession 2012_002 received on September 10, 2012; Accession 2015_021 received in October 2014; Accession 2019_003 received in early 2019.

Access Restrictions: Correspondence  between 1962 to 1968 may not be photocopied.

Use Restrictions:

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the World Wide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright.  Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult Special Collections Research Center to determine copyright holders for information in this collection.  Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

The library has limited information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Technical Access Note:

Use copies have not been made for all of the audiovisual materials at this time.  Researchers must contact the repository in advance for access to these materials.

Use copies of the wax cylinder recordings have been made.

Acquisition Method: Donated to Southern Illinois University Carbondale by Katherine Dunham.

Separated Materials: Other institutions that have some holdings related to Dunham and her work include the Library of Congress, New York Public Library and the Missouri Historical Society.

Related Materials: Katherine Dunham's FBI file has been digitized and is available at https://archive.org/details/KatherineDunhamFBIFile (accessed July 13, 2016).

Preferred Citation: [after identification of item(s)], Katherine Dunham Papers, Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale

Processing Information: Box 89 was redistributed into the other boxes of newsclippings, according to dates

Finding Aid Revision History:

The original boxes 80-84 contained photographs but were removed and processed into the Katherine Dunham Photograph Collection (UAPH 07).  These box numbers have been repurposed for the processing of additional Dunham accessions.

The following accessions were processed by Matt Gorzalski from August 2015 to May 2016: 799, 787, 988, 2012_002, 2015_021.


Box and Folder Listing


Browse by Series:

[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],
[All]

Series 6: Photographs, Film, and AudioAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 1: Photographs and Negatives, circa 1930s-1960sAdd to your cart.
This sub-series of photographs was removed from this collection and is now UAPH 07 Katherine Dunham Photograph Collection.  See this collection for a detailed inventory.  The photographs depicte Katherine Duham performances, dance company members and other talent, publicity photographs, celebrities (some pictured with Dunham), travel in Haiti, and family and friends.  Family photographs include Dunham's mother, father, brother Albert Jr., her husband John Pratt, and daughter Marie-Christine.  There are also many copy negatives in the photograph collection.
Sub-Series 2: Audio Recordings, circa 1930s-1950sAdd to your cart.View associated digital content.
This sub-series contains reel-to-reel and wax cylinder audio recordings of drum and dance rhythms of Haiti, Cuba, and Brazil.  It also includes music from Latin and South America.  The wax cylinders contain Haitian rhythms related to voodoo music.  In most cases these recordings have been digitized.
Box 118Add to your cart.
Item 1: Audio Reel: Drum Rhythms of Haiti, Cuba, BrazilAdd to your cart.
Recorded at 7.5 inches per second, monophonic.  Includes 1. Cuba: Santo; 2. Brazil: Yemanja; 3. Brazil: Maracatu; 4. Brazil: Coco; 5. Haiti: Ibo; 6. Haiti: Yon Valu; 7. Haiti: Maiz; 8. Haiti: Petrokita; 9. Brazil: Samba da Favela.
Item 2: Audio Reel: Paris-HaitiAdd to your cart.
Recorded at 7.5 inches, monophonic.  Includes 1. Angelique O., 2. Son, 3. Bel Congo, 4. Min-Li, 5. C'est Lui, 6. Antibonite - (Danse Mahis), 7. Let Me Love You Tonight, 8. Dora
Item 3: Audio Reel: Voyage au BrésilAdd to your cart.
Recorded at 7.5 inches per second, monophonic.  Includes 1. O Preta do Acaraje, 2. Choro No. 1, 3. O Frevo, 4. Choro No. 2, 5. Trois Chansons Macumba (Ogun Batala, Echua, Caboclo do Mato), 6. Choro No. 3, 7. Hommage a Dorival caymmi, 8. Choro No. 4, 9. Cuba Nañigo.
Item 4: CD Copy of Wax Cylinder Recordings, circa 1930-1940Add to your cart.
Voodoo (Vodun) rhythms and music recorded during Dunham's graduate field work in Haiti in the mid 1930s onto Edison brand wax cylinders, each approximately two to three minutes in duration.  Includes forty short individual and group performances of vocal and percussive sessions.
Item 5: Cassette: Katherine Dunham Interview [by Viola for ESL Journal?], 1996 January 18Add to your cart.
Item 6: Cassette: Katherine Dunham, A. Edmunds, and Janelle Stovall discuss NEA Report, 1987 December 21Add to your cart.
Item 7: Cassette: "Travis Smiley and S. Africa", undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 8: Cassette: "Interview with Katherine Dunham, Mayor, Officer, and Commissioner, Charlotte Adams", undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 9: Cassette: "K. Dunham, A. Edmunds, and J. Stovall on NEA Report", undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Casette: Untitled, with note and photograph from Pablo, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 130Add to your cart.
Item 1: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 5: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 6: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 7: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 8: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 9: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 11: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 12: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 13: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 14: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 15: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 16: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 17: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 18: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 19: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 20: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 21: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 22: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 23: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 24: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 25: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 26: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 27: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 28: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 29: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 30: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 31: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 32: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 33: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 34: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 35: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 36: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Box 131Add to your cart.
Item 1: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 2: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 5: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 6: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 7: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 8: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 9: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 10: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 11: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 12: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 13: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 14: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 15: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 16: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 17: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Item 18: Wax CylinderAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: Films, circa 1932-1936, 1964, 1990, 2007Add to your cart.
This sub-series contains 8mm films of Katherine Dunham's travel in Haiti, as well as 16mm duplicates and VHS and DVD copies of these films.  Also included is a film of Dunham at the Apollo Theater and a DVD interview with Vanoye Aikens, a member of Dunham's dance company.
Box 132Add to your cart.
Item 1: Haiti Film (HA-1), circa 1932-1936Add to your cart.
Includes Mardi Gras; dancing at Pont Beudet; Stanley Reser beating a drum; boys doing scissors dance.
Item 2: Haiti Film (HA-2), circa 1932-1936Add to your cart.
Includes: Mary-Clare on horse at Bailey's Beach; Sonny Rever at Raft; FGA diving; Mary Clare and Dorothy Swink; Clare in wheel barrow; sailing; Mrs. Dortch in new car; Smith & Lewis; Gymrana; Iron Market; Port au Prince from Bleo House; Vera Greeley and Clare; Florence Greeley and Mary Clare Pont Beudet; Mrs. Dejean and Dejean family; Fire at Peter's bakery; Katherine Dunham on Pont Sonde Bridge; Stan Reser and Katherine Dunham on beach at Saint Marc; Eddie Salmon; St. Marc; on road to Cap Haitien; Cap Haitien; Axel Sodergreen and Clare at Di Kinney; Audre Audant; arrival; Duke of Kent and Princess Marina on honeymoon with Resie Vincent; tennis at radio station; Mary Clare plays ball; road to St. Marc; Artibonite River; going through stream near Gonaives; Arther Ace on wall of Death
Item 3: Haiti Film (HA-3), circa 1932-1936Add to your cart.
Includes: Ace on wall; Eric Stewart; Smith; Stephenson and Zephrin Packard; Andre Audant trip to Morne La Selle; The Citadel; Gay Kneer; Margareta Kroll; Tony Kneer; Palace of Sans Souci; Citadel from below; Stan Reser and Katherine Dunham; chapel at Milo Pilborough Road; Holiday in Pine Forest with Ivan and Alma Sanderson (September 1937); Alma at Thorland; Alma leaves on Commodore plane for Cuba; Eddie Salmon and Elsie Miller; Street Port au Prince; Kneersr garage; Garde headquarters Dessalines statue; parade on Champ de Mars; Clare in garden; baseball game; Kenschoff road; Dorothy Swink and Mary Clare at Kenscoff; FGA with moustach Port au Prince; arrival of President Trujillo in Port au Prince Clare and Sonny swimming; picnic at beach; Tommy Thompson and Baby and Juliet; Stan and Clare.
Item 4: Dunham Company, Apollo Theater, 8mm film, 1964 AugustAdd to your cart.
Bel Congo; Shango; Anabaco
Item 5: Dunham Company, Apollo Theater, 8mm film, 1964 AugustAdd to your cart.
Rhumba Trio; Beg; Nanigo; Los Indios (full)
Item 6: Dunham Company, Apollo Theater, 8mm film, 1964 July 24, August 2Add to your cart.
Shango - Beg; Floyd's Guitar Blues
Item 7: Dunham Company, Apollo Theater, 8mm film, 1964 July 24, August 2Add to your cart.
Afrique, Nanigo
Item 8: Unknown film - 16mmAdd to your cart.
Note found with film at time of accession was as follows: "Mrs. Verne Van Beynum, 427 West 45th Stree, New York, NY.  This belongs to Elsie T. duTrieuelle, gift from Tally Beatty, 36714 dupe"
Item 9: Mr. Vanoye Aikens: In His Own Words, 2007Add to your cart.
This item is not a part of the original collection.  it is an interview with Vanoye Aikens produced by Katherine Dunham's nephew, Kaye Lawrence Dunham, and was added to the Katherine Dunham papers at his request in 2007.  Producer: Kaye Lawrence Dunham; Director: Terry Carter; Director of Photography/Editor: John Perron.
Item 10: Katherine Dunham "Spirit in Motion" VHS Tape, undatedAdd to your cart.
Item 11: Videotape: "Developmental Physiology, Patricia Wade", 1976 February 4Add to your cart.
In 22 Wavern Hall
Item 12: Videotape: "ARPA, Dupe 8, O'Malley", undatedAdd to your cart.
Tape 1, 2 of 2
Item 13: Videotape: "Helgelal Ross, Physiology 152 Wade Tape 3", 1973 February 4Add to your cart.
Item 14: Katherine Dunham Interview (HBO), 1990 December 5Add to your cart.
Item 15: Highlights - Dunham Technique Seminar, 1990 AugustAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[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],
[All]

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