Scope and arrangement
The Paul Robeson Collection (1926-1956) documents Robeson's artistic and political career from 1949 to 1956. Divided into four series: GENERAL, PROFESSIONAL, PASSPORT CASE and ORGANIZATIONS,the collection consists mainly of correspondence, manuscripts and printed matter, and represents for the most part office files of the United Freedom Fund, established in 1952. Manuscripts by Robeson include typed letters, handwritten drafts of letters, speeches and articles.
The Paul Robeson collection is arranged in four series:
The series contains four sub-series: Biographicalfiles for Eslanda and Paul Robeson; Correspondence; Writings;and Printed Matter.
The series consists mostly of correspondence, reports, clippings, contracts and printed matter generated by Robeson's national tours, from 1952 to 1956. Manuscripts written for or acquired by Robeson form a separate group at the end of this series. The material is arranged chronologically and therein by type. Files for the years prior to 1952 are sketchy and consist mostly of clippings documenting Robeson's singing and acting careers in London and the United States from 1925 to 1951. The Peekskill concert and riot and subsequent lawsuit, however, produced a great deal of documentation, much of which is in this collection. This file includes: two copies of a fundraising letter signed by Paul Robeson to finance the suit that he and the Civil Rights Congress brought against the State Department; correspondence between Bella Abzug, a lawyer for the case and William Patterson, and between Patterson and others involved in the case.
Documents related to the national tours are arranged from the general to the specific. Schedules, correspondence, financial papers and mailing lists precede a city-by-city arrangement. Material related to the Othello Recording Corporation and Robeson's participation in the production of the film Song of the Riverscan be found at the end of the years 1952 and 1953.
The series is divided into Correspondence and Legal Papers. The former contains individual, legal and foreign correspondence. The latter includes memoranda, court orders, passport applications and various documents from the Committee to Restore Paul Robeson's Passport, among them petitions, mailing lists, fact sheets, press releases and financial records.
The series is composed of files of the various organizations associated with Paul Robeson in the 1950s. They are arranged alphabetically, and where the volume permitted, they have been separated by types of documents and arranged chronologically. In the case of the Civil Rights Congress, the arrangement follows the names of the various committees and projects of the organization.