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Schomburg Research Guide: Katherine Dunham

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"That I would come into their midst, able to worship these gods in dance, and knowing, ...seemed to be of utmost importance to the cult itself—as it was important that I carry the meaning of the true vaudun to my people in that other country." —Katherine Dunham, Island Possessed

Afrique (Dunham)
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Afrique (Dunham)" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 194. 

This guide is the second in a series of research guides created to provide our researchers with access to our collection materials, continuing in our legacy of preserving and making accessible materials related to the the black experience throughout the African Diaspora.  With this series of research guides, researchers will find materials from all five divisions here at the Schomburg Center: Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division, Art and Artifacts Division, Moving Image Recorded Sound,Photographs and Prints Division, and the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.

This research guide features collection materials related to black dance pioneer, anthropologist, and choreographer, Katherine Dunham. Dunham traversed locales such as Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad, and Martinique, utilizing her formal training in anthropology with scholars such as Melville J. Herskovits, to research traditional spiritual practices and rituals, and implemented learned aspects into her choreography with the her first dance company, Ballet Nègre, and later, The Dunham School of Dance and Theater, with a special emphasis on the “Dunham Technique”. Her dance companies provided opportunities for black dancers and choreographers such as, Lavinia Williams, Jean-Léon Destiné, and Arthur Mitchell. Her groundbreaking work has been the topic of critical scholarship within and outside of her respective fields, various artistic reproductions, and greatly inspired the work of her peers. Years later, her work continues to inspire contemporary generations of dancers, choreographers, and anthropologists.

Please review the materials listed, and contact the specific divisions listed for more information regarding access to the materials.

Note: this guide is not all inclusive. Please view our catalog and/or Archives Portal to find additional materials related to Katherine Dunham.

Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division

Archival Collections

Lavinia Williams papers, 1940-1989.

Helen Armstead-Johnson miscellaneous theater collections, 1831-1993.

Luther Henderson papers

Claudia McNeil scrapbooks, 1938-1981.

Earl Sydnor papers, 1929-1989.

Ernest "Tad" Truesdale papers, 1945-1987.

*Note: this division provides research services by appointment only

Katherine Dunham as Woman with a Cigar from the ballet "Tropics - Shore Excursion."
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Katherine Dunham as Woman with a Cigar from the ballet "Tropics - Shore Excursion."" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1943. 

Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division

Books

Island Possessed

Katherine Dunham: a Biography

Kaiso!: writings by and about Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham: recovering an anthropological legacy, choreographing ethnographic futures

Katherine Dunham: pioneer of Black dance


Microfilm/Microform

Katherine Dunham: reflections on the social and political contexts of Afro-American dance

Issandre le mulâtre

Clippings

Dunham, Katherine, 1909-2006: clippings.

 

Roger Ohardieno, Katherine Dunham, and Tommy Gomez performing Rara Tonga in Tropical Revue.
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Roger Ohardieno, Katherine Dunham, and Tommy Gomez performing Rara Tonga in Tropical Revue." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1943. 

Photographs and Prints Division

Katherine Dunham portrait collection

Joe Nash Black Dance photograph collection

Melville J. and Frances S. Herskovits photograph collection

Léon-Gontran Damas photograph collection

Helen Armstead-Johnson photograph collection: personalities

Katherine Dunham and Dancers
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Katherine Dunham and Dancers" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 194. 

Arts and Artifacts Division

Posters
 
Accession #PO.89.077.18: Celebration of Women in Dance:honoring The Katherine Dunham Female Dancers 1940-1945 
 
Accesion #PO.90.010: African American Dance: Beauty, Rhythm & Power

Due to renovations, this division is temporarily closed.

Katherine Dunham and Jean Leon Destine in Bal Negre.
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. "Katherine Dunham and Jean Leon Destine in Bal Negre." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1946. 

Moving Image Recorded Sound

Oral History Interview with Katherine Dunham

Destination freedom: dance anthropologist

The MacNeil/Lehrer report: Katherine Dunham

Bahiana (Dunham)
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Bahiana (Dunham)" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 194. 

Digital Collections

Sound Recordings

Still Images

Moving Image

Le jazz hot (Dunham)
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Le jazz hot (Dunham)" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1952. 

Outside of NYPL

The Libray of Congress

Emory University

Southern Illonois University, Carbondale - Special Collections Research Center

Museum of Performance and Design

UC Irvine Special Collections 

Columbia University 

Comments

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Glad to know this precious

Glad to know this precious data is so well preserved for future generations. I took lessons ,unforgettable , challenging lessons from Ms Lavinia Williams in New York City that are a personal treasure that positively enriches me. Thanks !

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