Monday, May 11, 2009

My Harlem Renaissance Office

Here are pictures of the office that I devoted to this project. It was inspired by my stay in a Harlem B&B. I bought a secretary desk, an old-fashion record player, phone, etc.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sabbatical Year

From June 2009 - August 2010 I'll be on sabbatical thanks to generous support from the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Faculty Sabbatical Program and a Feminist Scholars Fellowship from the university's Women's Studies Research Center. I'll spend my sabbatical time revising my current draft of the biography and working on my documentary film.

Summer 2007

One key turning point in the project was my attendance at the Schlesinger Library 2007 Summer Seminar on Gender History Writing Past Lives: Biography as History
June 24–29, 2007 at Radcliffe where I had the opportunity to present my research to history scholars in a seminar session. During the morning sessions there were panels of famous women historians presenting their research. It was a really influential experience.


My first article from the project, "Breaking the Color Barrier: Regina Andrews and the New York Public Library," was published in the journal Libraries & the Cultural Record.

November 2008

On Friday, November 7th, I was on a panel, "Perspectives on the Library Past" with my colleagues where I presented my work on Regina Andrews.

April 2009

On Saturday, April 4, I presented my paper, "'We must be more than librarians': Regina Andrews and the Harlem Experimental Theatre" on a panel, "Resisting Racism in Segregated America: Women Librarians and the Politics of Print Culture" at the 33rd Wisconsin Women's Studies and 4th LGBTQ Conferences 2009 at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. It was a fantastic conference and I attended many great sessions.

March 2009

I attended the Black Women in the Ivory Tower conference at my alma mater Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. There was a History terrific panel. I learned a great deal by watching these women present their historical research paper. Later that month I attended the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) conference in Bremen, Germany. I attended many panels and keynote addresses but I was most interested in the two sessions about Black feminist theory since that's the theoretical framework I'm using for my biography. I was also interested in going to Bremen because it's where Regina Andrews went during her first trip abroad. Here is a picture of Regina in Bremen--she's the shorter woman in the middle.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

January 2009 - Los Angeles

I was contacted by Regina Andrews' family members in the fall of 2008. Regina had an older brother Maurice and the people who contacted me were his grandchildren. I took the opportunity to visit the family in Los Angeles in January when school was not in session. I had a wonderful time. First I met with the grandchildren and their mother (Maurice Anderson's daughter!) for dinner and then the grandson invited to his home in Baldwin Hills where I met great grandchildren and other relatives. The following day I videotaped Maurice's daughter and granddaughter about their experiences with Regina Andrews. Both women knew her at different times in her life. Finally I was out of the archives and meeting with real people!

December 2008

During this New York City trip I stayed at the Library Hotel, a boutique hotel around the corner from the famous 42nd Street Library on Fifth Avenue. I was in the Poetry Dewey decimal room. I searched the National Council of Women of the United States collection on microfiche at the NYPL Manuscript and Archives Division. Andrews was a long-time member of this women's organization in the 1950s and 1960s. I searched the Columbiana Collection at Columbia University. Andrews took courses in their Library School during 1927 - 1928. I had several photographs digitized from Andrews' collection at the Schomburg to include in a trailer for the documentary I am working on. I hope to be able to post the trailer soon.

Summer 2008

The last site I visited was the apartment building where Andrews lived at 405 Edgecombe Avenue in the penthouse. Nearby 409 Edgecombe Avenue was where the elites of Harlem resided.

Summer 2008

I caught a train at Grand Central Station to Andrews' weekend retreat and eventual retirement home in Lake Mahopac, NY. The Andrews purchased this home in 1941. It is a 1799 New England style home on 34 acres.

Summer 2008

I visited the 115th Street Branch Library where she became the first Negro Supervising Librarian in 1938.

Summer 2008

In August 2008 I visited several sites where Andrews lived including 1945 Seventh Avenue, where she was married on April 14, 1926 in the apartment of her maid of honor, noted Harlem Renaissance writer Jessie Fauset. Andrews and her husband, attorney William T. Andrews, Jr. moved into the building after their wedding.

December 2006

When I returned to the east coast for the holidays I made a trip to New York City to photograph a place where Regina Andrews lived and worked. 580 St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem has been called one of the most famous addresses during the Harlem Renaissance. A widely published photograph of Langston Hughes with other famous men was taken at a rooftop party at 580 where Andrews and her two roommates hosted a salon for Harlem Renaissance artists.

Although Andrews worked in a number of New York Public Library branches, she spent a long time at the Washington Heights branch.

Spring Break 2006

During spring break from UCLA's Department of Information Studies, I traveled to Harlem with my research assistant Dalena Hunter to search Regina Andrews' papers and photograph and print collections. We stayed in a magnificent bread & breakfast brownstone in Harlem that was decorated in Harlem Renaissance style--an inspiration for my future office!

December 2005 - New York City

Regina Andrews' papers and photograph and manuscript collection is located at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. During the winter break I visited my family in New Jersey and took a quick trip to the Schomburg to check out the extent of her collection.

The Beginning

In September 2004 I moved to Los Angeles to collect data for a research project funded by the Ford Foundation's Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minorities about the role of a public library in the life of a middle-class African American and Latino community. During 2005 I came across a research article, "The place to go: The 135th Street Branch Library and the Harlem Renaissance," in the journal Library Quarterly by Sarah Anderson. The article described how the supervising librarian, Ernestine Rose, hired several Negro women to work in the branch. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more about these women and one woman in particular stood out -- Regina Andrews.