Web Exhibit: Intergrating the Life of the Mind | African Americans at the University of Chicago 1870-1940


Credit: Integrating the Life of the Mind: African Americans at the University of Chicago, 1870-1940, University of Chicago Library


From The University of Chicago Library

About this Exhibit:

Exhibition Dates: September 2008 – February 2009

Integrating the Life of the Mind: African Americans at the University of Chicago, 1870-1940

From the late nineteenth century onward, African Americans have pursued studies in undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs at the University of Chicago. By 1943 the University of Chicago had awarded no less than forty-five PhDs to African Americans, more than any other university in the world. The intellectual work of these graduates shaped fields as diverse as sociology and cell biology; helped construct new fields such as African American history and literature; provided leadership at institutions including Howard University, Tuskegee Institute, and Morehouse College; and drove important policy changes on issues such as lynching. Based on the historical and archival collections of the University of Chicago Library, this exhibit presents original manuscripts, rarely seen portraits and photographs, African American publications, books by African American graduates of the University of Chicago, and other documents that trace the interlocking strands of academic and gradual social integration through the mid-twentieth century. Among the notable graduates profiled in the exhibit are attorney and legislator Richard A. Dawson; historian and African American journals editor Carter Woodson; zoologist Ernest Everett Just, philologist Georgiana Simpson; ethnographer and dancer Katherine Dunham; educator and theologian Benjamin Mays; linguist Lorenzo Dow Turner; and urban sociologists Charles Johnson, Horace Cayton, and St. Clair Drake. The exhibit is curated by Danielle Allen, UPS Foundation Professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and author of Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship Since Brown vs. the Board of Education (University of Chicago Press, 2004). The exhibit is presented in association with the Black Metropolis Research Consortium, a Chicago-based association of libraries, universities, and other archival institutions with major holdings documenting African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with specific focus on materials related to Chicago. The University of Chicago is the host institution of the BMRC.

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