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Live from the Reading Room: Arturo Schomburg to Langston Hughes


Arthur A. Schomburg Photograph Collection, Box 1, Sc-Cn-86.0180, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public LibraryLangston Hughes Portrait Collection, Folder 1, "Writer - Langston Hughes", Photographs  and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

Live from the Reading Room: Correspondence is a podcast series that aims to share interesting and engaging letters written by or to key historical figures from the African Diaspora. 

Each episode highlights a letter from popular collections housed in the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

Today’s letter features correspondence between Arturo Alfonso Schomburg and Langston Hughes.  In the excerpt below, Schomburg speaks with Hughes regarding acquisitions for The Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints—the forerunner to today’s Schomburg Center—opened in 1925 as a special collection of the 135th Street Branch Library. 

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) was an Afro-Puerto Rican bibliophile, curator, collector, scholar, activist and the namesake of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. 

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was a poet, activist, playwright, novelist, and collector of Africana materials found through the African Diaspora.  

February 16th 1933

Please keep abreast of anything that should be in our collection of Negro material The Poushkin statue is a marvelous object of beauty, Downs when he was Moscou wrote me about it, but nothing materialize from it, you have brought it onward, I have put in under glass for the fellows who come this way may be able to admire the beauty of it. Is this the statue done in black marble, give us some news of the statue, make it talk in your own way. Is the person who owns the Ira Aldridge in the book with the plays of Shakespeare willing to have the people of the U.S.A of Negro descent enjoy this picture? Or if not, can a copy be had?

Go ahead Langston Hughes, let me put your name on the walls of the Library with “Weary Blues” in your handwriting that hangs here where every beholder can see your handwriting. Now I want to carry forward, by saying that Langston Hughes did not forget the Negro collection when In Russian, he has remembered us by deeds of love and human kindness. So good luck to your work and new poems, let us have one for our collection, where the black masses can read and follow your footsteps.

If there should be anything you want me to prosecute while you are on yonder fields, just let me know, or any commission that require tact silence, I am here at your services.

Ever and Ever
Arthur Schomburg

 

Arthur Alfonso Schomburg Papers, Box 8, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

*Special Note: All text is represented as originally written by the correspondent.  

Today’s correspondence was recited by Steven G. Fullwood, the Associate Curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library.

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Thank You

Wow. This was truly amazing to experience- hearing such special, important words from the past... These words are from the past, yet they revealed much to me today: cooperation, collaboration, commitment, communication, intellect, humility, connectedness, history, accountability to future generations, and discretion. And on that note: I'll get back to my work and talk less... Just know that what you are doing is important. It matters. And I thank everyone involved for doing the work of not only preserving, but sharing, these works from the past so that we can all be reminded of a former standard of excellence- integrity, urbane tone, clear focus, and respect- and strive each day to reach for it anew... I can't wait to share this link with other people I love!... This is going to change a small part of the world. Ase.

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