Dead People's Libraries

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Dead People's Libraries

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Edited: Apr 6, 2008, 6:40 pm

I enjoy comparing my personal library to the collections of famous (or infamous) persons who read. Library Thing has a group dedicated to completing this task for the amusement of its members that researches and documents the libraries of deceased individuals on LT.

Beyond the library of Tupac Shakur, the group has not added the libraries of any other African Americans. Can we suggest a few to them?

Whose libraries would you would be interested in seeing?

The libraries of Booker T. Washington or Zora Neale Hurston would be two I would like to browse. Can you think of any others?

Apr 5, 2008, 6:45 pm

Do you know a source for the contents of Ms. Hurston's or Mr. Washington's libraries (maybe Tuskegee has his)? If you do, go ahead and create a profile (contact abby about a lifetime membership). If you need help entering the books, post in that group and I'm sure you'll find volunteers!

I'd like to see Dr. King's library listed, but I don't know a source. His papers are at the King Center, Boston University and Morehouse, but I don't know who has his books, or if they are even gathered in one location. I suppose the King Center would know.

James Baldwin probably had an interesting library. I'd like to see what Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson owned. How about W.E.B. DuBois? Frederick Douglass?

It's much easier to find the papers of famous folks than to find what they themselves read!

Apr 16, 2008, 8:43 pm

How about Richard Wright?

Apr 18, 2008, 12:27 am

I would imagine Paul Robeson's library was most likely left to his son. When I was in Philly for a conference i visited Mr. Robeson's house and was surprised at how small it was. They are restoring and refurnishing it. The ground floor was completed but work was going on upstairs. I have seen the library of Dr. John Henrik Clarke and it massive but I would like to see what he read for fun or relaxation before his sight left him.
I think Octavia E. Butler's library should be interesting also.

Apr 27, 2008, 9:18 pm

I'd like to see the libraries of writer/educators like Alain Locke and books read by eloquent speakers of Barbara Jordan's ilk ..There's gotta' be some great stuff there.

Edited: Oct 22, 2008, 11:11 am

I'm coming to this a bit late, but I thought I'd point out that both Richard Wright and Frederick Douglass' library catalogs have been published in print form (although not online, as far as I know).

Wright's catalog is called "Richard Wright: Books and Writing" and Douglass' catalogs is called "Bibliography of the Frederick Douglass library at Cedar Hill." Both should be available at an academic library or through inter-library loan. If anyone is interested in tackling either of these projects, come over to the I See Dead People's Books group and we'll help you get started.

Dec 20, 2008, 2:37 pm

I would hope to see the library of Virginia Hamilton. I think Zora, Langston, James, and everyone listed thus far are great choices. I'd also be interested in the libraries of musicians and other artists.

I'd generally like to see more activity and information concerning writers of all backgrounds, especially African-American writers. Does anyone have an update on recent progress or how one could get involved with these sorts of projects?

Dec 21, 2008, 4:34 pm

noodlejet, try this group to participate:


Dec 22, 2008, 12:26 pm

I strongly second Dubois and add Ida B. Wells.

Dec 22, 2008, 12:54 pm

Thanks rdurick, I made my way over and hope to begin working on Richard Wright shortly. Great group of folks if anyone is interested in helping they'll point you in the right direction. If things work out, I'll continue working on (or recruiting others to work on) libraries that you all have suggested. I think it's especially important to include women and people of all races but this of course is dependent upon the availability of a library list.

Edited: Dec 22, 2008, 2:41 pm

All - just a quick note to report that there is a second African-American library among the Legacies, that of Mary Hartford, a free black woman who lived with and worked for the family of Rev. Jeremy Belknap in Boston during the late 18th-early 19th centuries. Her library was very small, but it's there.

As noodlejet22 notes above, anybody can be added, it's just a matter of finding a list of their books and having someone to catalog them.

Dec 22, 2008, 3:33 pm

Just a note, Donura and Greytone are working at getting Richard Wright library cataloged from the book. We are waiting for publisher approval before it can be released publicly. I will let everyone know when that happens. It is currently a private account. Also know that if it is published and you want to copy it you have to have the publisher permission first to make it a public account on LT.

Aug 24, 2009, 2:38 pm

I would like to see Langston Hughes' Library?

Aug 27, 2009, 6:20 pm

Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, Ron Brown and Madame C.J. Walker

Aug 27, 2009, 6:27 pm

One more, Frank Yerby. Not only would I like to see his library, it would be nice if a publishing house re-issued some, if not all, of his work so I can buy it in brand new condition.

Sep 9, 2009, 5:08 pm

I would like to suggest historian John Hope Franklin. That scholar had a wealth of information on African-American history.

Dec 21, 2009, 1:42 pm

...I'd like to see Zora Neale Hurston's, James Baldwin's, Langston Hughes, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Countee Cullen, Gwendolyn Brooks, W E B DuBois, Carter G. Woodson, James Weldon Johnson, John Hope Franklin and Cheikh Anta Diop.

Dec 28, 2009, 11:11 am

I would love to see Ralph Ellison, and Alex Haley. I love all the other incredible names that have been mentioned.

Edited: Dec 31, 2009, 2:33 am

Very interesting topic. I 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th all the names mentioned. I'll add Jessie Fauset and Charles Chesnutt-two of my favorite authors.

Edited: Mar 24, 2010, 9:12 pm

The library of Joel A. Rogers would be very interesting. Mr. Rogers' tireless research put many Blacks, from all walks of life, on the path to self knowledge.

Jun 13, 2010, 9:49 am

LibraryThing has added Ralph Ellison to Legacy Libraries. If you get a chance please visit his page. Who should be next?

Feb 29, 2012, 6:12 pm

LibraryThing is currently working on adding Frederick Douglass' library. They have also proposed Carter G. Woodson.

Mar 2, 2012, 10:17 am

Two men who created Latin Writing. One Pagan, one Christian: both African. Tertullian and Lucius Apuleius. Both men born in Africa, educated in Africa, taught in Africa, and died in Africa. Also, what about Franz Fanon who was born in the same area.