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William Stanley Braithwaite Papers

Call Number: JWJ MSS 72

Scope and Contents

The William Stanley Braithwaite Papers document his personal and professional life and span the dates 1797 to 1942. The Papers contain correspondence, writings, and other papers, which provide evidence of Braithwaite's career as a writer, publisher, and anthologist.

Braithwaite's correspondence records his professional and, to a lesser degree, personal relationships. Correspondents include poets such as Stephen Vincent Benét, William Rose Benét, Witter Bynner, Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn, Grace Hazard Conkling, Olive Tilford Dargan, Rebecca Harding Davis, John Gould Fletcher, Georgia Douglas Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, James Joyce, Joyce Kilmer, Aline Murray Kilmer, Vachel Lindsay, Philip Ainsworth Means, and Louis Untermeyer. Other correspondents include W.E.B. DuBois and George E. Haynes. The correspondence series also contains third-party correspondence; notably, a letter from Sir Joseph Banks to J. Nicol from circa1797.

Proofs, clippings of articles, and publicity materials represent Braithwaite's career as an anthologist and as an author for The Boston Evening Transcript. Other papers document his work as a publisher (with B.J. Brimmer) and lecturer. The papers also contain a portrait and a photograph of Braithwaite as well as his collection of autographs.


  • 1797 - 1942
  • Majority of material found within 1830 - 1942


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Existence and Location of Copies

Portions of the collection are microfilmed, as noted on individual folders.

Conditions Governing Use

The William Stanley Braithwaite Papers 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 Walter R. Benjamin and Margaret Carpenter on the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts & Letters Fund, 2003 and from William Reese Company on the Danford N. Barney, Jr. Fund, 1991.

The addition was purchased from Southpaw Books on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2015.

Other material came to the library in small quantities from various sources as indicated on individual folders.


Organized into four series: I. Correspondence, circa 1797, 1877-1942. II. Writings, 1908-1928. III. Other Papers, 1830-1935, undated. IV. Addition, 1911-1935.


1.25 Linear Feet ((5 boxes) + 2 broadside folders)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL


The William Stanley Braithwaite Papers document his personal and professional life and span the dates 1797 to 1942. The Papers contain correspondence, writings, and other papers, which provide evidence of Braithwaite's career as a writer, publisher, and anthologist. The Papers also includes third-party correspondence, notably, a letter from Sir Joseph Banks to J. Nicol from circa 1797.

William Stanley Beaumont Braithwaite (1878-1962)

William Stanley Braithwaite was born in Boston, December 6, 1878, to William Smith Braithwaite and Emma DeWolf. He led a difficult life as a child of two mixed race parents and due to the death of his father in 1886, he left school early and joined the workforce at the age of twelve. His first employment was fortuitous; he was apprenticed in a Boston publishing house where he was exposed to the works of John Keats. Braithwaite acquired a passion for romantic poetry which drew him to a literary life. In 1903 he married Emma Kelly with whom he had seven children. Following his marriage, he committed himself even more intensely to his literary career, and completed and published his first volume of poetry, Lyrics of Life and Love (1904). He traveled to New York City in search of a career in journalism, but encountered an unfamiliar atmosphere of racial prejudice and soon returned to Boston where he found employment in 1906 as a critic and reviewer for The Boston Evening Transcript. While at The Transcript he published his first anthologies as collections of the year’s best poetry. In 1908 he completed his best-known work of poetry, The House of Falling Leaves, in which he explored the development of African-American writing in the U.S. He attempted to start up his own literary publication, The Poetic Journal and a publishing house, B.J. Brimmer, which he founded with fellow poet Winifred Virginia Jackson. Both ventures proved unsuccessful and Braithwaite was beset with financial difficulties. In 1935, after having received several honorary degrees he was offered a professorship at Atlanta University which he held until 1945. Braithwaite returned to New York City and completed his final collection of poems, Selected Poems, in 1948 and remained there until his death on June 8, 1962.

Processing Information

Part of the William Stanley Braithwaite Papers are derived from JWJ MSS Small Collections. A list for JWJ MSS Small Collections was created in the 1980s by graduate students who conducted a survey of collections under the direction of the curator of the Yale Collection of American Literature. The Beinecke Library received additional Braithwaite material after this list was created. In 2010 the Papers received further processing, at which time JWJ MSS Small Collections Braithwaite was interfiled with Za Braithwaite, Uncat.JWJ MS.47, and JWJ Zan B731 +1.

Guide to the William Stanley Braithwaite Papers
by H. Dean and Olivia Coates
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

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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.