Friday, November 26, 2010

Re: A Royal Harlem Renaissance Wedding

This week there was a review in the New York Times about a play, Knock Me a Kiss, portraying the unsuccessful marriage between W. E. B. Du Bois' daughter, Yolande, and the poet Countee Cullen. The wedding was the major event in Harlem in 1928. Over 3,000 people attended the wedding with another 3,000 people lined up outside the church. The marriage was short-lived. Gossip suggested that the bridegroom was gay. Cullen spent most of his post-wedding time in Paris with the best man, actor Harold Jackman, who co-founded the Harlem Experimental Theatre with Regina and Dorothy Peterson.

Regina most likely attended this wedding. Cullen was the most frequent visitor to the literary salon that Regina hosted and she was a friend of W. E. B. Du Bois. Regina's husband was an assistant usher at the wedding and Regina's former roommate, Ethel Ray Nance, was invited to the wedding. Nance had a copy of the wedding invitation and the exclusive invite to the reception in her collection at the University of California - Berkeley's Bancroft Library.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Paris, France

I just found out that I will be presenting my research on Regina Andrews at a conference, The Collegium of African American Research (CAAR), in April 2011 in Paris. I will be on a panel, Dust Tracks on the Translantic Road: Self-Portraits of African American Women Abroad. My talk is called "The evening under the stars": The Cold War Adventures of an African American Librarian.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Center for Research on Gender and Women

Yesterday I discussed my work on the Regina Andrews' project in a talk, "Checking out Regina Andrews: The Journey of a Black Feminist Biographer," at the University of Wisconsin - Madison's Center for Research on Gender and Women. Last year I was awarded a Feminist Scholar's Fellowship from the program that allowed me to spend a semester working on the project. I was so glad to see so many master's and a few Ph.D. students from my own department attending the presentation.

I included two pictures posted here in my presentation when describing the root of my interest in Regina Andrew's story as a fellow African American librarian. One picture is of me on the day I received my Master's of Library Service in 1993 from Rutgers University and the other is a picture of my I.D. from Yale from my first library job from 1997 -1999.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Proposals

Last week I attended the 2010 Conference of Ford Fellows sponsored by the Ford Foundation in Newport Beach, California. I had the opportunity to speak with potential publishers about my book manuscript, Harlem Renaissance Librarian: Regina Andrews. I received a very good response to my pitch and I plan to send out multiple book proposals in the next few weeks. I'm currently revising my proposal and sample chapters to submit for review. I can't wait to receive feedback and hopefully, eventually a book contract!

Monday, September 27, 2010

A digital story about Regina Andrews

I completed a digital story about an incident in the life of Regina Andrews last week at the Center for Digital Storytelling. I intend to make a full-length documentary about Regina. I had a wonderful and productive experience at the Center and I would highly recommend the program. All eight of the participants completed a digital story in just three days.

Berkeley, California

Last week I was in Berkeley, California, staying at the Bancroft Hotel and taking a course at the Center for Digital Storytelling. I also had the opportunity to search the archives of Regina's Harlem Renaissance roommate, Ethel Ray Nance at the University of California - Berkeley's Bancroft Library. Numerous letters in Nance's papers indicated that she had a very close friendship with W.E.B. Du Bois. They used pet names, Marielle and Andre, in much of their correspondence. Nance also offered some insight into the third woman who lived with them, the little-known Louella Tucker. Ethel said, "My third roommate was a good time girl, but we needed her for the rent." Tucker also worked, as a typist, at the offices of Opportunity (the house organ for the National Urban League) with Nance.

The picture shows Nance (far right), then Ethel Ray, in 1922, before moving to New York City in 1923 or 1924. She's from Duluth, Minnesota and was the offspring of a Swedish immigrant woman and an African American man from North Carolina.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Documentary Films

On Friday I met a woman, Lucie Faulknor, who makes documentary films at a conference for my department's Center for History of Print Culture. Co-producer Faulknor is part of a team working on a documentary, Free for All: Stories of the American Public Library (see their wonderful web site). On Saturday I was interviewed by the project director Dawn Logsdon. Who knows if I will end up in the final film but it was both exciting and informative to be a part of a real documentary film with an acclaimed group of filmmakers as I think about the documentary I want to make about Regina Andrews. Logsdon was the director of the recent film, Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans, and Faulknor co-produced the film--I film I saw a few months ago.

In a few weeks I will attend a workshop at the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, California where I will make a short three-minute documentary film about Regina Andrews that I will post on this blog--like a trailer for the final documentary.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Re: Libraries in Botswana

I just returned from a week in Botswana where I visited three of our students who are doing internships in public libraries. Rachel and Ashley interned and lived with a chief in Molepolole and are pictured with me and Dr. Angelina Totolo from the University of Botswana library school program. I think the head librarian, Max Muzunga, took the picture so he is not shown. Student Cara lived in Mmangkodi and is pictured with me and head librarian Lucia. We also got to meet the newly appointed head of the Botswana National Library System.

The whole trip was very inspiring and made me excited to get back to revising the chapter on Regina's travels to libraries in Western Africa.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Going to Botswana

I am off to Botswana to visit three students from my department, the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. The students are doing internships in Botswana. Regina was very interested in libraries throughout the world and visited libraries in the African nations of: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Senegal and the Ivory Coast in the 1960s.

Re: Writing Group Presentation

On Monday, July 19, 2010, I was invited to discuss my Regina Andrews' project with an African American Genealogy Writing Group in Madison, WI. Besides describing my project, I discussed sources I used to tell Regina's story. The women in the writing group shared some of their stories too as they researched their own stories about their families. It was a very inspiring morning.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A presentation

I gave a talk about Regina Andrews on 23 June 2010 in the Royal Library (The Black Diamond) in Copenhagen, Denmark. The presentation was organized by Dr. Laura Skouvig of the Royal School of Library and Information Science in Copenhagen. The audience included a mix of faculty, archivists and the director of the Danish Center for Information on Women and Gender.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Grant Funding

I recently found out that I was awarded a grant for this project from the University of Wisconsin - System's Institute on Race & Ethnicity (IRE). I plan to use the funds to return to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; a trip to the Beinecke Library at Yale University to examine the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters; and to take a class at the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley, CA to work on the documentary project.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Re: Writing Spaces & Places

I have found a variety of places in Copenhagen that provided writing spaces for my project. I just wanted to document some of these. In descending order: Lion's Book Cafe, my favorite, the most traditional cafe/bookstore. Luckily 90% of the books are in Danish which prevents me from getting distracted; the Christianshavn Bibliotek (the public library branch) is just around the corner from where I live. I was able to get a library card but only about 5% of their books are in English; Cafe Wilder (website doesn't work), Cafe Oven Vande, Cafe Luna, and Cafe Bizarro are actually restaurants but they don't mind people writing and using their laptops between breakfast, lunch and dinner service. Finally, Arnold Busck, a bookstore with a cafe and unfortunately an English language book section that includes a whole mystery section--my favorite.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Re: My Danish Writer's Retreat

I found a lovely apartment to rent in the Christianshavn section of Copenhagen. It's near their famous Black Diamond Library

Re: A writer's retreat in Copenhagen, Denmark

Regina Andrews visited many countries in the 1950s and 1960s as part of her civic work for the National Council of Women of the United States. She visited: Europe (post-war Germany as part of the Marshall Plan), Asia (China, Japan, Korea, India and Thailand), the Middle East (Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran), the African nations of Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast and Brazil in South America. She also briefly visited Rome and Lebanon.

Although Andrews never visited Denmark, I decided to take a two-month writer's retreat to Copenhagen. Copenhagen and their libraries are currently dealing with an influx of immigrants, much like Regina and the New York Public Library during her tenure there from the 1920s - 1960s. I met with a representative from The Danish Library Centre for Integration to discuss services for immigrants and refugees.

Next week I'll meet with faculty at the Royal School of Library and Information Science. I may have the opportunity to present my work on Regina Andrews. Some of their faculty have an interest in library history and library services to ethnic minorities. I'll teach a course, Information Services for Culturally Diverse Communities, this fall at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. I

Sunday, May 2, 2010

An exciting development

An audience member informed me that Regina Andrews' assistant librarian from the Washington Heights branch, Enda Law, is still alive. I plan to contact her.

My Presentation

Last week I gave a presentation to the retired librarians from the New York Public Library. I had a wonderful time. Many of the audience members knew Regina Andrews or had heard about her. One audience member is working on a collective biography of the head librarians during the first 50 years of the 20th Century which includes Andrews. Some of the librarians also remembered working with my sister, a former NYPL librarian. The host, Becky Koppelman put together a lovely program, great refreshments, and interesting questions from a large audience.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Re: A presentation

Before I go to Denmark, I will visit my family in New Jersey and catch a bus to New York City. I was invited to do a presentation about Regina Andrews for the New York Public Library Retirees Association. I am really looking forward to this presentation.

Re: Writing and Writing

I have not written lately because all I have been doing is writing and writing. I am trying to complete another draft at home in Madison, WI and writing grant applications to fund the project before heading for a two-month writing retreat in Copenhagen, Denmark. I am following Regina's lead and interest in international travel.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Angelina's Oral History Interview

I had an opportunity to interview Angelina, the daughter of Regina's niece Lorelei (so is Angelina Regina's great niece???). Angelina met Regina, her husband Bill, her daughter Regina Ann and Aunt Kate (Regina's maternal aunt who lived to be 106 years old!) in the 1980s when Regina lived in Mahopac, NY.

Regina's Niece's Oral History Interview

In January 2009 I flew to Los Angeles to meet members of Regina's family. I interviewed two relatives for my documentary. Regina's niece, Lorelei (born Margaret Helen Anderson) is the daughter of Regina' brother Maurice B. Anderson. As Lorelei mentions in the clip, she was raised by Regina's mother Margaret from the age of 5 until 17. She got to know Regina and her husband Bill through their visits to Illinois to see Regina's family. Below is a clip.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Regina's Husband William Trent Andrews, Jr.

I am currently reading the biography, King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. (left picture) by Wil Haygood (Houghton Mifflin Company, 1993), and came across some interesting information about Regina's husband Bill (right picture). I knew that he was an Assemblyman who represented Harlem from 1935 - 1948, but I did not know that when Harlem was redistricted in the 1940s to allow the voters to elect their first African American Congressman that Bill was a contender for the position. As many of you know, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. was elected, became even more famous and now Seventh Avenue in Harlem is also known as Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd. instead of William Trent Andrews Jr Blvd. Regina could have been the wife of a Congressman and attended parties at the White House like Powell's wife pianist Hazel Scott did...