Sometimes I need to change environments in order to write. I spent this weekend in a local hotel to work on some sections of the manuscript, Harlem Renaissance Librarian. I also read other biographies for inspiration. I've recently completed Dorothea Lange: A Life Beyond Limits by Linda Gordon who presented at the Seminar on Gender History that I attended at Radcliffe a few years ago. I enjoyed reading her gender analysis of Lange's life and career. I just finished reading Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original by Robin D. G. Kelley. This book was so descriptive about Monk's music that I bought both a CD and a vinyl record of his music!
On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 I had an opportunity to present my project to graduate students and faculty through a seminar, Program in Gender and Women's History, in the Department of History at the University of WI - Madison. This seminar is organized by the students who are interested in discussing gender-related issues. I really enjoyed talking about the project, "New Negro Woman: Harlem Renaissance Librarian Regina Andrews." I got terrific questions, feedback, and comments.
For inspiration for my own project, I attended a lecture on author Dorothy West (often associated with the Harlem Renaissance) by Associate Professor Cherene Sherrard-Johnson. The lecture was sponsored by the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Center for Research on Gender & Women. Last year Sherrard-Johnson was the recipient of the Feminist Scholars Fellowship that I received this year. She is currently writing a manuscript about West's life. Perhaps West knew Regina Andrews. Sherrard-Johnson also recently edited a book by Jessie Fauset who was a friend of Regina Andrews and was her maid of honor. Maybe Fauset shared a copy of this manuscript with Andrews for feedback...
I attended a lecture on Harlem radical Hubert Harrison by independent scholar Jeffrey Perry at the end of October. Harrison has been forgotten and this new, excellent biography, Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism 1883-1918, allows a new generation of people to get to know his story. When I came across this biography several months ago I was pleased to discover a market for forgotten people like Regina Andrews.
Even more exciting, Harrison and Regina Andrews knew each other through the 135th Street Branch Library. Harrison was an advocate of public libraries and he lectured at the North Harlem Community Forum about literature. Andrews was a member of the Forum and publicized the lectures.