Emory Receives Major Gift to African American Studies Archive

Emory Receives Major Gift to African American Studies Archive


Emory University has received a gift to its library collections that greatly increases teaching and research opportunities in 20th-century African American studies. A portion of the Hatch/Billops Collection in New York — an extraordinary collection assembled during the past 35 years — has been given to Emory by the collectors. The Emory archive will be known as the Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives at Emory University.

The Hatch/Billops Collection in New York, built by artist and filmmaker Billops and theater historian Hatch, will continue its active program of documentation and acquisition, including development of the oral history archive and publication of an annual volume of interviews, “Artist and Influence: The Journal of Black American Cultural History.”

“Virtually every great research library in the United States has been built upon the core acquisition of a major private library. The Camille Billops and James V. Hatch gift is that order of gift for African American collections at Emory,” says Joan Gotwals, university vice provost and director of libraries.

Materials in the process of being transferred to Emory include oral history tapes, scripts of unpublished plays, posters, photographs and many boxes of books and periodicals. Included among the several hundred playscripts received are works by Amiri Baraka, Ed Bullins, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neale Hurston, Willis Richardson, Wole Soyinka, Melvin Van Peebles, Derek Walcott and Richard Wright.

“Emory received this wonderful gift not only because of the growing reputation of our collections, but also because of the commitment we were willing to make: This includes a designated space, a curator and fellowships for researchers,” says Linda Matthews, director of Emory special collections and archives.

The Camille Billops and James V. Hatch Archives at Emory University will be a center for scholarly research in African American arts and letters, according to Randall Burkett, curator of African American collections for the university. “The archive is a rich resource for students and scholars that significantly boosts the research offerings in African American studies at several Atlanta institutions. This sort of material will attract students and researchers from across the country.”

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