Scope and arrangement
The Larry Neal Papers date from 1961 to 1985 and document Neal's role as writer/editor and seminal figure in the Black Arts Movement. The papers consist principally of manuscripts and research materials for Neal's diverse forms of writings, including essays, scripts, screenplays, poems, stories, and anthologies. Published copies of some of his writings are included in the collection, as are writings by colleagues. Neal's professional papers include correspondence with colleagues and publishers. Materials post-dating his death in 1981 document the various memorials and a conference honoring his achievements.
The Larry Neal papers are arranged in six series:
The PERSONAL PAPERS series, 1966-1985 (.4 lin. ft.),is composed of biographical information including Neal's resumes, incoming letters, his marriage certificate, and photocopies of photographs of his family and colleagues (Schomburg Center's Photographs and Prints Division maintains a Larry Neal Photograph Collection). Most of this series deals with Neal's death in 1981, and includes letters of condolence, funeral (viewing) guest book, memorials, obituaries, literary criticism in the form of a memorial and a literary conference named in his honor, which was sponsored by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
The PROFESSIONAL PAPERS series, 1966-1981 (1.6 lin. ft.),includes letters from significant correspondents such as Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Eddie Ellis, Hoyt Fuller, Langston Hughes, Woodie King, Dudley Randall, Max Roach, Leopold Sedar Senghor, and Chiz Schultz. Topics discussed in the correspondence include Neal's plans for projects involving music, writing, filming, and the production of plays he wrote as well as the Journal of Black Poetry.Avatar Enterprises, Neal's production company is represented by the incorporation book and related letters.
As an instructor at various universities, the teaching materials, student papers, and administrative documents in the collection reflect this aspect of Neal's career. Correspondence with organizations in which he was involved include the Federal Theatre Project in the 1970's and 1980's. Addresses and datebooks complete the professional papers series.
The largest series in this collection is Neal's WRITINGS, 1970-1975, (8.2 lin. ft.)and is divided into the genres in which he wrote.
The series provides a limited view of Neal's role as Executive Director of this agency. The scope of the material includes, an incomplete set of minutes of Board of Directors' meetings, memoranda, transcript of an interview with Neal, several proposals such as those for a District of Columbia Solidarity Project, and a National Black Theatre, handouts from an employment and career workshop, annual and other reports, and printed material pertaining to programs sponsored by the commission.
The series is divided into two subseries: Essays, Short Stories, Poems,1966-1979 (1 lin. ft.) focus on African-American and African topics by such authors as Amiri Baraka, John Blassingame, Hoyt Fuller, and Robert F. Thompson. The second subseries, Scripts,1972-1977 (.8 lin. ft.), consists of playscripts and screenplays authored by a variety of writers including Hoyt Fuller, Earnest L. Hudson, Henry Edward Krehbiel, Ishmael Reed, Howard Sackler, and Douglas Turner Ward.