About this collection

This series is grouped into three sets: Personal, Writing and Publishing, and General. Both the Personal and Writing and Publishing sets have subsets of topical correspondence. The personal correspondence is arranged alphabetically by individual or organization, with cross referencing where appropriate. Personal correspondence also includes topical subsets arranged after the alphabetical listing. The Writing and Publishing set includes correspondence reflecting Dr. Alexander’s writing and publishing career and is arranged alphabetically by publishing house or individual where appropriate, followed by topical subsets of Jubilee fan mail and Permissions. The General correspondence is arranged by date, ranging from 1942-1998, and undated items.

Personal correspondence includes handwritten and typed letters, notes, cards, memos, mailgrams, and telegrams both to and from friends, family, and other writers. The content of the letters range from personal greetings and information to requests for project reviews, recommendations, cover letters for other writer’s works, and interviews. Topical personal correspondence appears after material arranged alphabetically by individual or organizational names and includes annual Christmas letters; condolences on the passing of Dr. Alexander’s husband; envelopes with writing; ephemera consisting of address lists, Christmas Cards, empty envelopes, greeting cards, invitations, and thank you cards; letter fragments, letters from inmates, correspondence having to do with the formation of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center; the Phillis Wheatley festival; and unidentified personal letters.

The annual Christmas letters, of which we have three examples (1986, 1987, and 1989), are long, typed renditions of the goings-on for the year. The condolences include sympathy and flower cards sent to Dr. Alexander on the passing of her husband, Firnist J. (“Alex”) Alexander, Sr. on October 26, 1980. Envelopes with writing include three examples of notes Dr. Alexander jotted on empty envelopes and range from letter drafts to recipes. The ephemera includes eleven sets of address lists; twenty-three Christmas cards, included undated cards and cards sent to the Alexander family in 1992; forty-six empty envelopes which may have been retained for their return addresses; twenty-four greeting cards dating from 1976, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, and undated; over one hundred invitations for weddings, graduations, openings, galas, and other events; and seventeen thank you cards. The topical arrangement continues with sixteen letter fragments; five letters from inmates (1970, 1971, 1974, and 1976); twenty-nine pieces of correspondence dealing with the formation of the Margaret Walker Alexander National Research Center for the Study of the Twentieth Century African American; three items dealing with the 1973 Phillis Wheatley Festival; and nine pieces of undated, unidentified personal letters.

Writing and publishing correspondence consist of typed and handwritten letters, forms, copies, and memos dealing directly with Dr. Alexander’s writing and publishing career and activities. Included here are both publishing houses and individuals who collaborated with Alexander on projects and research activity, requests for submissions, reviews, and comments. Of particular interest are the Yale letters dealing with the publication of For My People and the Houghton Mifflin letters dealing with the publication of Jubilee. These letters are arranged alphabetically, followed by two topics of Jubilee fan mail (159 items, 1966-1989, n.d.) and Permissions for Use (287 items, 1967-1998, n.d.). These permissions for use forms and letters often included photocopies of how Dr. Alexander’s poetry and excerpts would be used in the published work, and carbon copies of Dr. Alexander’s response to the request for use of her work.

General correspondence is arranged by date, 1942-1945, 1962-1998, n.d. and includes letters, memos, mailgrams, and telegrams. General correspondence consists of lecture invitations and appearances, awards, and solicitations and provides an excellent overview of Dr. Alexander’s busy lecture and touring life.

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