The Negro Exhibit
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Photo from The Forgotten Negro Exhibit: African American Involvement in Buffalo's Pan-American Exposition, 1901 by William H. Loos, Ami M. Savigny, and Robert M. Gurn. Buffalo, NY, Buffalo and Erie County Library and the Library Foundation of Buffalo and Erie County, 2001.
Originally compiled and organized for the Paris Exhibition of 1900, the Negro Exhibit and its history make an intriguing story. W.E.B. DuBois, one of the founders of the Niagara movement, the forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was a primary contributor to the development of this exhibit.DuBois wanted to show the extraordinary progress of African Americans in the 35 years since the end of slavery.According to DuBois1 this exhibit had four objectives: illustrate the history of the American Negro; present the condition of the Negro; show the education of the Negro; and display literature of the Negro.
In addition to DuBois, Daniel Murray, son of a freedman, was commissioned by the Library of Congress to compile of list of books and pamphlets by Negro authors, as part of the Negro Exhibit.Thomas J. Calloway, another African American, was assigned as the Special Agent for the exhibit.In fact, an indication of the strong governmental support for this project is found in the federal appropriation of $15,000 for its development.
Daniel Murray wrote about his effort to compile the literary list in a letter to potential contributors, written on January 22, 1900."The object in this effort is to secure a copy of every book and pamphlet in existence, by a Negro author, the same to be used in connection with the Exhibit of Negro authorship at the Paris Exposition of 1900, and later placed in the Library of Congress.Any persons able to furnish books or pamphlets on this list, or having knowledge of such as are not on this list will greatly aid this effort by interesting themselves to make certain that all books or pamphlets are duly represented in the collection."2 To ensure receipt of copies of these manuscripts, Murray offered to pay the postage fees for their shipment.
DuBois, W.E.B.The Negro Exhibit.American Monthly Review of Reviews (22), November, 1900.
Murray, Daniel.Compiler.Preliminary List of Books and Pamphlets by Negro Authors for ParisExposition and Library of Congress.Washington, D.C., Library of Congress. 1900.
DuBois, W.E.B.The Negro Exhibit.
Negro Exhibit at Exposition.Special Agent Calloway's Mission.Wants the Pan-American to Take the Paris Exhibit and Enlarge it.Express, December 24, 1900.
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