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African American film collection

Call Number: JWJ MSS 238

Scope and Contents

The African American Film Collection consists of scripts, photographs, and other materials related to the production and promotion of films and television shows created by, starring, or documenting the experience of African Americans.


  • 1929 - 1998

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The African American Film Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from various sources, 2012-2019. For more information consult the appropriate curator.


Organized into thirteen groupings: February 2012 acquisition; March 2013 acquisition; 15 October 2013 acquisition [1 of 2]; 15 October 2013 acquisition [2 of 2]; December 2013 acquisition; July 2015 acquisition; 19 June 2017 acquisition; January 2018 acquisition; August 2018 acquisition; January 2019 acquisition; July 2019 acquisition; February 2021 acquisition; July 2021 acquisition.

Related Materials

Additional scripts, photographs, and other materials documenting the work or portrayal of African Americans in motion pictures and television acquired before the creation of this collection can be found in the Beinecke Library's collections. To find additional materials, search within Orbis or Archives at Yale. Useful search terms include "Blaxploitation films" and "Screenplays."

Scripts for television programs featuring African American actors, entertainers, and topics can be found in African American Television Scripts (JWJ MSS 90).

Additional scripts can be found in the James Weldon Johnson Collection Manuscript Miscellany (JWJ MSS MISC). They include, but may not be limited to, the following:

  1. Berg, Richard. "Shelia" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 55, F-1.
  2. Connelly, Marc. "Cabin in the Sky" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 58, F-1.
  3. Foreman, Carl. "High Noon" screenplay. JWJ MSS MIsc Group 61, F-1.
  4. Frost, Lee. "The Man with Two Heads" screenplay. JWJ MSS Misc Group 64, F-1.
  5. Julien, Max. "Cleopatra Jones" screenplay. JWJ MSS Misc Group 56, F-1.
  6. McCloy, Terrence. "Lady Sings the Blues: The Billie Holiday Story" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 69, F-1.
  7. Nash, N. Richard. "Porgy and Bess" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 54, F-1.
  8. Schumacher, Joel. "Capitol Cab" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 57, F-1.
  9. Silliphant, Stirling. "Shaft in Africa" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 65, F-1.
  10. Vidor, King. "Hallelujah!" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 60, F-1.
  11. Weller, Michael. "Ragtime" screenplay. JWJ MSS MISC Group 66, F-1.

Select related materials cataloged individually include the following:

  1. Coen, Franklin. "Black gunn" screenplay. YCAL MSS 478
  2. "Carmen Jones" shooting script. YCAL MSS 476
  3. Black, John D. F. "Shaft" screenplay. JWJ Za B562 +970Sb
  4. Wagoner, J. Robert, and Cliff Roquemore. "Rudy Ray Moore is the Disco Godfather in 'The Wack Attack'" screenplay. JWJ Zan M7865 +978W


8.5 Linear Feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the African American Film Collection
by Beinecke staff
November 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • August 2021: Added July 2021 acquisition.
  • March 2021: Added February 2021 acquisition
  • December 2022: Added July 2022 acquisition

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.