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African American television scripts

Call Number: JWJ MSS 90

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of scripts and a small number of photographs documenting television programs featuring African American actors, entertainers, and topics from the 1950s through the 1990s. While some material from an earlier period of television broadcasting is present, including Amos and Andy (1952), Buelah (1950-1953), and The Jack Benny Show (1964), scripts for shows that aired in the 1970s and 1980s predominate. Sanford and Son (1974-1976), The Jeffersons (1975-1978), Good Times (1974-1976), Diff'rent Strokes (1978-1986), Webster (1983-1989), and The Cosby Show (1984-1991), situation comedies depicting African American familes in varying social conditions, are particularly well represented. In addition to long-running programs, the collection includes scripts for variety specials, miniseries, and pilots such as Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1975) and Skin Game (1974). The collection also includes additional production materials, including call sheets, correspondence, ratings, and research materials, as well as a file documenting the Association of Black Motion Picture and Television Producers, including meeting minutes and copies of outgoing correspondence.


  • circa 1950-1998

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The African American Television Scripts 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 George Robert Minkoff Inc. on the Adele Gutman Nathan Theatrical Collection Fund, 1999.

July 2015 acquisition: Purchased from Walter Reuben, Inc. on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2015.

June 2017 acquisition [1 of 2]: Purchased from Walter Reuben, Inc. on the the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2017.

June 2017 acquisition [2 of 2]: Purchased from Royal Books on the Edwin J. Beinecke Book Fund, 2017.

June 2021 acquisition: Purchased from Royal Books on the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Arts & Letters Fund, 2021.


Organized into five groupings: October 1999 acquisition; July 2015 acquisition; June 2017 acquisition [1 of 2]; June 2017 acquisition [2 of 2]; June 2021 acquisition.


40.14 Linear Feet (91 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

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

Persistent URL

Processing Information

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

The finding aid for this collection was compiled from a list supplied by the bookseller at the time of acquisition, with some further editing carried out in 2011. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are based on that list. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. The description of the papers is also drawn largely from information supplied by the bookseller.

Former call number: Uncat JWJ MS 65.

Guide to the African American Television Scripts
by Beinecke staff
May 2007
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • November 2021: Updated with 2021 addition.
  • March 2021: Updated with 2015 addition.
  • March 2020: Updated with 2017 additions

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.