Collection highlights

Explore highlights from the Givens Collection of African American Literature.. 

Lou Bellamy Rare Book Collection

This outstanding collection, donated in honor of Penumbra Theatre founder and Artistic Director Lou Bellamy, contains over 850 titles, many of which are first editions or signed by the author. The collections include the self-published Narrative of Sojourner Truth as well as other books that predate the Emancipation Proclamation.

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Penumbra Theatre Company Archives

The Penumbra Theatre Company Archives document the theater's founding in 1976 by Lou Bellamy, its extensive repertoire of productions, and its unique collaboration with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson. From annotated scripts to costume designs, programs, educational materials, reviews, and administrative records, the Penumbra Theatre Archives captures the inner-workings and history of one of the country's preeminent African American theater companies. Much of Penumbra Theatre production records have been digitized and are available online.

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Phillis Wheatley

An original first-edition copy of her work Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral, published in 1773. It is the first book published by an African American writer.

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Countee Cullen Correspondence

An intimate collection of letters from 1918-the 1930s, including drafts of many published and unpublished poems, between the Harlem Renaissance poet to his childhood friend and literary confidante William Fuller Brown. Brown spent much of his career as a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota.

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Clarence Major Papers

The Clarence Major Papers include the manuscripts, correspondence, and personal papers of the poet, novelist, and painter who was active in the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s. Clarence Major is a professor of English at the University of California Davis.

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Select images and book covers from the Givens Collection and related African American materials across University of Minnesota Libraries collections are digitized and online.