Skip to main content

Langston Hughes collection

Call Number: JWJ MSS 28
Scope and Contents

The Langston Hughes Collection consists of letters, manuscripts, audiovisual recordings and other material documenting the life, work, and remembrance of Langston Hughes. The collection spans the years 1924-2002.

The collection is housed in 4 boxes and organized into two series: Josephine DeWitt Rhodehamel Gift and Material from Other Sources. Box 2 contains material that is Restricted Fragile.

Series I, Josephine DeWitt Rhodehamel Gift , is organized into three subseries: Letters from Langston Hughes, Writings of Langston Hughes and Writings of Others. Letters from Langston Hughes, housed in box 1, consist exclusively of letters from Hughes to Rhodehamel, of Berkeley, California, dating from 1930-40. Letters mention Rhodehamel's efforts to acquire particular pieces of work by Hughes for herself and "the library," his work and travel, and his gratitude for her interest. The Writings of Langston Hughes subseries contains holograph and typescript versions of poems for Dear Lovely Death (1931) laid in decorated boards. There is also a typescript copy of Louise Thompson's article on Hughes' first novel, Not Without Laughter (1930).

Series II, Material from Other Sources , housed in boxes 1, 3, and 4, is organized into four subseries: Correspondence, Photographs, Audiovisual Material and Electronic Files. The Correspondence subseries consists of correspondence from Hughes to others and is arranged alphabetically by recipient. There are groups of letters to Arna Bontemps, Harold Jackman, Arthur Spingarn, Nathaniel White and others. More than 20 letters to Arna Bontemps, dating from March to September 1948, deal with their anthology The Poetry of the Negro (1949). Most of Hughes' letters to Harold Jackman are brief, but longer letters from 1924 and 1933 respectively touch on the economic hardships of life in Paris and the production of Hughes' plays, "Mulatto" and "The Ways of White Folks," by the Harlem Experimental Theatre. Hughes solicited Arthur Spingarn's help in early December 1935 to obtain royalties from the American Play Company for the Vanderbilt Theatre's production of "Mulatto," and subsequent letters, also dating from December 1935, discuss Spingarn's efforts on his behalf. There are many brief letters and cards to Nathaniel White, one of Hughes' assistants, dating from the late 1940s to early 1950s. Enclosures, third-party correspondence and correspondence to Hughes are noted in the folder description. There are photographs of Hughes dating from 1934 and 1969.

The Audiovisual Material subseries consists of audio and video recordings acquired or produced by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library for the Library's 2002 exhibition "Langston at 100" and the Yale University conference "Langston Hughes and His World" which was held by the University's Department of African American Studies and the Beinecke Library in February 2002. The material includes both commercial recordings relating to Hughes, and video recordings of "Langston Hughes and His World" conference sessions "An Evening of Jazz and Poetry" and "The Theatre of Langston Hughes." The Electronic Files subseries consists of preliminary and final .html files for the online exhibition "Langston Hughes at 100."

Restricted Fragile materials are housed in box 2.

Physical Description

Other Storage Formats: Audio Recordings, Video Recordings, Electronic Files, 1 art storage item

Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 2: Restricted fragile material. Reference surrogates have been substituted in the main files. For further information consult the appropriate curator.

Box 4: Folders 30 and 34 are unused. Original recordings are in Box 2, folders 38 and 39.

Conditions Governing Use

The Langston Hughes Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Libary, 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

The Langston Hughes Collection was acquired through various gifts and purchases to complement the Langston Hughes Papers (JWJ MSS 26). Audiovisual materials and electronic files were acquired or produced at the time of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscipt Library's Hughes centenary exhibition and conference in 2002.

1.75 Linear Feet ((4 boxes) + 1 art storage item)
Related Names
Hughes, Langston, 1902-1967
Language of Materials