Dorothy Porter Wesley papers
Scope and Contents
The collection consists chiefly of the correspondence, writings, biographical materials, research files, photographs, and personal papers of librarian, curator and bibliophile Dorothy Porter Wesley. The bulk of the collection is comprised of research materials relating to various subjects relating to African American history, culture, and bibliography, including the following: African-American abolitionists Sarah Remond and William C. Nell, African American literature, African literature, and Afro-Brazilian literature. The collection also includes records of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
This collection may be housed off-site at Yale’s Library Shelving Facility (LSF). To determine if all or part of this collection is housed off-site please check the library’s online catalog, Orbis; material for which the location is given as “LSF” must be requested 36 hours in advance. Please consult with Beinecke Access Services for more information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Dorothy Porter Wesley 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 William Reese Co., (Swann African American sale, New York, 2012 March 1, lot 296) on the Sinclair Lewis Fund, 2012.
This collection is organized into four series: Series I. Correspondence, 1870-2011. Series II. Professional Papers, 1869-2003. Series III. Research Files, 1847-2004. Series IV. Personal Papers, 1869-2006.
180 Linear Feet (350 boxes)
Language of Materials
The collection consists chiefly of the correspondence, writings, biographical materials, research files, photographs, and personal papers of librarian, curator and bibliophile Dorothy Porter Wesley. The bulk of the collection is comprised of research materials relating to various subjects pertaining to African American history, culture, and bibliography, including the following: African-American abolitionists Sarah Remond and William C. Nell, African American literature, African literature, and Afro-Brazilian literature. The collection also includes records of the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History.
Dorothy Porter Wesley (1905-1995)
Dorothy Burnett Porter Wesley (1905-1995) librarian, curator and bibliophile, was born on May 25, 1905 in Warrenton, Virginia to physician Hayes Joseph Burnett and tennis player Roberta (“Bertha”) Ball Burnett. Wesley, the eldest of four children, grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Miner Normal School, Washington D.C. in 1925 with the intention of becoming a teacher. Wesley worked as a library assistant in the Miner Normal School library where she worked with librarian Lula V. Allan who encouraged her to pursue a career in library science. Wesley enrolled in Howard University in 1926 and received a BA in 1928. After graduation from Howard University in 1928, Wesley began work as a full-time librarian at Howard University. In 1928 Wesley enrolled at Colombia University’s School of Library Science where Wesley received a Master’s in Library Science in 1931. In 1930, Wesley began work as curator of the Moorland Foundation, now known as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, at Howard University and worked to build collections documenting the African diaspora until her retirement in 1973. Under Wesley’s administration, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center became a world-renowned institution for the history and culture of people of African descent. After retirement, Wesley worked as a consultant for Radcliffe University’s Black Women Oral History Archive and authored several articles, and books pertaining to librarianship and the African diaspora. Books authored by Dorothy Porter Wesley include Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837 (1971), and Afro-Braziliana: A Working Bibliography (1978). Wesley married artist and art history professor James Amos Porter (1905-1970) and had a daughter, Constance Porter Uzelac (1939-2012). After James Porter’s death in 1970, she married former Wilberforce University president and African American historian, Charles Harris Wesley in 1979. Dorothy worked with Charles on a variety of projects including research for a bibliography on abolitionist William Cooper Nell until Charles’s death in 1987. William Cooper Nell, Nineteenth-Century African American Abolitionist, Historian, Integrationist: Selected Writings 1832-1874 (2002) was later published by Constance Porter Uzelac in 2001. Dorothy Porter Wesley died in Broward County, Florida in 1995.
Materials were received directly from Swann Auction Galleries. The July 2012 addition, was received from the William Reese Co., after shipment from Florida where it had been found in storage by Wesley's family. The November 2012 addition was received from Swann Auction Galleries via the William Reese Co. after members of Wesley's family sent additional materials to Swann Auction Galleries.
- African American abolitionists
- African American authors -- Bibliography
- African American librarians
- African literature -- Bibliography
- Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History
- Bibliographers -- United States
- Brazilian literature -- Bibliography
- Nell, William C. (William Cooper), 1816-1874
- Remond, Sarah Parker, 1826-1894
- Wesley, Dorothy Porter, 1905-1995
- Guide to the Dorothy Porter Wesley Papers
- Under Revision
- by Afua Ferdnance
- September 2018
- 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
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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