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Josephine Baker Collection

Call Number: JWJ MSS 108

Scope and Contents

The Josephine Baker Collection is comprised of correspondence, photographs, personal papers, and printed material documenting the life and career of Josephine Baker between 1929 and 1968.

Evidence of Baker's career as a performer can be found in her correspondence with managers and producers, clippings from her performances, and pamphlets and brochures from concerts. There is correspondence and printed material regarding her appearances in Argentina in 1947 and 1952 and in Canada in 1960. The collection also includes material relating to Baker's involvement in the French Resistance during the second World War as seen in a decree for the Medal of the Resistance.

Correspondence with family members, financial records, and other documents provide insight into Baker's personal life, including her financial affairs and her home in France, Château des Milandes.


  • 1929 - 1968


Language of Materials

In English and French.

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Josephine Baker 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 Carol Lipton on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, Eugene G. O'Neill Memorial Fund, and James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts & Letters Fund, 1995.


4.5 Linear Feet (12 boxes)

Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Josephine Baker (1906-1975)

Josephine Baker (1906-1975), African-American dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist.

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, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing in 2014, including rehousing and minimal organization.

The collection was arranged into several notebooks prior to its acquisition by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. This arrangement has been left as is. Researchers should note that material within each notebook overlaps with/or relates to material found in other notebooks. For instance, correspondence can be found in all notebooks. In order to locate all relevant material within this collection, researchers will need to consult each notebook described in the Collection Contents section. 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 and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection includes materials previously identified by the following call number: Uncat JWJ MS 56.

Guide to the Josephine Baker Collection
Under Revision
by Beinecke staff
January 2014
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

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.