Saturday, October 29, 2011

Regina's Granddaughters

Since I began this project in late 2005 I had always hoped to find Regina's only child, her daughter Regina Ann (pictured here). I have not been successful and her relatives in Los Angeles had lost touched with her as well. I was quite surprised to hear from not one but two of Regina's granddaughters in September 2011. Regina has four grandchildren: Kimberly, Robyn, Erica and Louis. Robyn remembered that after their grandfather died that the family moved to Mahopac, New York to take care of Regina. Kimberly called Regina "an incredible woman." So true.

The Book Manuscript

Today I finished revising the book manuscript, tentatively titled: Harlem Renaissance Librarian: The Biography of Regina Anderson Andrews. Last year I sent book proposals to several publishers, one publisher sent the entire manuscript to two readers who provided the excellent feedback that I used for the revisions. The manuscript will go out for another round of reviews and we'll see what happens after that.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Re: Regina's Wedding Location

While recently reading a fashion magazine I came across an image that looked strangely familiar. It was a picture of the front door of the building where Regina got married in 1926. Her maid of honor Jessie Fauset lived in an apartment in the building and hosted Regina's wedding. The newlyweds ended up living in this building on Seventh Avenue for the first few years of their union. I took a picture of the front door a few years ago in preparation for my documentary about Regina. The paint trim is now a different color but the columns and stone carvings are the same. (Photo: Essence magazine September 2011 issue).

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Re: Regina had an admirer

This summer a student of Russian literature who is studying in Venice, Italy contacted me. She wanted information about Regina. The subject of her research, author Boris Pil'njak, apparently was infatuated with Regina. Pil'njak wrote a letter on October 3, 1931 to his American interpreter, Joseph Freeman, which contained the following quote: "Phone Ella Winter and get her to track down the black Regina. And when will Regina come to the USSR? Bring her with you! tell her if she comes, I'll marry her, seriously, I mean it, I love Regina very much...Come! Bring Regina!" Tragically, Pil'njak was executed in Russia in 1938 after being accused of being a counter-revolutionary.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Re: "Checking Out Regina"

I just completed a second digital story related to this project. "Checking Out Regina" briefly describes the journey to create a biography about Regina Andrews. I intend to create a full-length documentary about Andrew's life with the skills acquired from the various filmmaking classes that I've attended. This story was created at the Digital Storylab,, in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Old and New Harlem

I am in Harlem to do additional research on my biography about Regina Andrews at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and the Stephen Schwartzman Building (formerly known as the 42nd Street & Fifth Avenue Branch currently celebrating their 100th anniversary). I am staying at Harlem's first new hotel in nearly 45 years, Aloft. When various African American intellectuals and artists came to Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance they often found housing in Harlem's YMCA/YWCA for "colored" people which until Aloft, was one of few hotel options still in existence in Harlem. Regina actually resided at the mid-town YWCA when she applied for a job at the 42nd Street Branch Library. Did she know about racial customs? Maybe the proprietors of the mid-town YWCA didn't know she was "colored." However, her New York Public Library interviewer declared that she was colored and sent her to Harlem to work at the 135th Street Branch. Regina hadn't been to Harlem at that point and decided to room with a friend who was moving to New York City.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Presentation in Paris

I just returned from a presentation about Regina Andrews at the Collegium for African American Research (CAAR) Conference on "Black States of Desire: Dispossession, Circulation, Transformation." I was part of a panel, Dust Tracks on the Transatlantic Road: Self Portraits of African American Women Abroad, with Dr. Claire Garcia and my friend Dr. Cherene Sherrard-Johnson who organized the panel. Sherrard-Johnson (pictured with me in Paris) spoke about Dorothy West's travels in Russia and Garcia described Anita Thompson's adventures in Paris and Tangiers. Andrews traveled to Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and briefly to South America in the 1950s and 60s.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

University of California - San Diego presentation

Based upon the suggestion of a follower of this blog, Mary Wickline, I was invited to speak about Regina Andrews at the University of California - San Diego Libraries for Black History Month. Despite the snowstorm covering most of the nation, I arrived without incident on Tuesday, February 1st and unfortunately my departure was not delayed at all and I had to return to Wisconsin on Wednesday, February 2nd, despite my objections. The event was wonderful, we had a good turnout and lots of questions. People came from different departments at the university. I'm pictured with the coordinator of the program, Marlayna Christensen (we worked together at Yale University Libraries more than a decade ago). My talk was: "I am American": Regina Andrews and the Harlem Renaissance.