Scope and arrangement
The Glenn Carrington Papers document the personal life of an African-American homosexual from the 1920s to the 1960s, before the advent of the gay pride movement. The collection is divided into four series: PERSONAL, CORRESPONDENCE, PROFESSIONAL and REAL ESTATE.
The Glenn Carrington papers are arranged in four series:
Personal Papers, 1921-1969 (1.2 lin. ft.)
This series is divided into Family, Biographicaland Educationsubseries. The Familysubseries includes a family ledger belonging to Carrington's father, David which contains the latter's last will, in addition to some writings and orations, and records of his children's birth. Additional files consist of correspondence, obituaries and other documents related to Carrington's sisters Corinne (Carrington) Best and Floretta (Carrington) Neals, his brother David Carrington, Jr., and his cousin Cassie Carter. Also included is Herbert Colas Carter's “Outline of the Trizone System of Contract Bridge” (typescript, incomplete). The Biographicalsubseries consists of curriculum vitae materials: resumes, birth certificate, testaments, diplomas, membership certificates, travel documents, memorabilia, etc. Separate files exist for the Mattachine Society, a gay organization founded in 1950, and for Servas, an international travel committee launched in Denmark in 1949 and dedicated to world brotherhood and peace. Also included are a diary of Carrington's first trip to the Soviet Union in 1926, annual lists of correspondents (1929-1969), and his notes and research materials on Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois.
The bulk of the Educationsubseries relates to Carrington's graduate and post-graduate work at Columbia University, beginning in 1940. Materials from Howard University are divided into pre- and post-1925 files. The pre-1925 folder consists of several graduation programs, a mimeographed version of the constitution and bylaws of the Howard University Student Council, and printed matter relating to student activities and campus activism. Carrington was a member of the Howard University debating team, and the editor of a student paper, The Bison.Post-1925 materials consist of alumni correspondence and printed matter. Carrington was a lifetime contributor to his alma mater. Professor William Stuart Nelson, in a letter dated August 9, 1928, invited him to apply after his graduation for a teaching post at the newly formed Department of Social Service at Howard. A 1948 letter to the president of the Howard University Student Council recounts his involvement in a successful 1925 student strike against faculty rulings penalizing students for violations of ROTC regulations, and his accomplishments to date. The Columbia University files consist mainly of field work notes, draft materials for his master's thesis, “The Employment Problem of the New York State Negro Prisoner,” and class notes for his sociology courses. After obtaining his Master of Science degree from Columbia's new School of Social Work in 1941, Carrington began work toward a second master's in sociology at the Graduate Faculty of Political Science. He enrolled over the next twenty years in courses ranging from the study of social stratification of urban black communities to the application of social theory to sociology.
Personal and general correspondence, mostly incoming letters with attachments, arranged alphabetically by last names, form the bulk of this series. Occasional letters from other correspondents are arranged chronologically toward the end of the series. Correspondents range from longtime friend Ophelia Settles Egypt and surrogate mother Georgia Douglas Johnson, to young men in the military and male friends in Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Yugoslavia, France, Great Britain, Germany, Ghana and Japan. Letters from young men in penal institutions in the United States are filed with other materials from Carrington's tenure as a parole officer and social worker, even though many of these letters are personal in nature. The majority of Carrington's correspondents were gay. Some were markedly younger than him; others were married, or married later. The correspondence is mostly private in character, and represents a rich archive for the study of twentieth century gay life prior to the explosion of gay pride in the 1970s. No attempt was made to separate the letters from gay men from the rest of the correspondence.
The Herbert APTHEKER file relates strictly to Carrington's research on W.E.B. DuBois and to activities of the American Institute for Marxist Studies. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow DANA, grandson of the poet Longfellow and a leftwing lecturer and literary critic, was a friend, protector and sometime employer of the young Carrington. They frequently accompanied each other to the theater and shared a common interest in the Soviet Union. In a letter from Moscow in 1935, Dana conveyed a message from a common friend, Vladislav Dubroshin, that the military academy where he was employed had “a strict rule that no one shall have any correspondence with any foreigner without getting special permission.” Two years later Carrington was denied a visa to the Soviet Union, an event that prompted Dana to cancel his own projected tour of Eastern Europe. Also included are articles by and about Dana, and programs and other materials related to his lectures on Soviet drama. Ophelia Settles EGYPT, an old friend from The Bisondays at Howard and an instructor at Fisk and Dillard Universities, is Carrington's most prolific correspondent in this collection. Her letters are full of insights on Southern black life in the 1930s. Also included in Egypt's correspondence are a letter and a thirteen page memorandum on organizing sharecroppers and field laborers from Gordon McIntire, the Louisiana field organizer of the Southern Tenant Farm Workers Union.
Rev. Marcus James, another outstanding correspondent in the collection, was vicar of St. Peter and St. Benet's Episcopal Church in East London in the 1950s. Born in Panama of West Indian parents, James also graduated from Howard in the 1920s, and held a Ph.D from Oxford University. An active member of the Africa Bureau and the Institute of Race Relations, he sought and obtained a private audience with Pope John XXXIII in 1960 to discuss the principle of inter-racial justice and equality. The larger segment of his file consists, however, of earlier correspondence, while he was a student at the Union Theological Seminary in New York -- with leaders of the Episcopal church in Jamaica and New York, including Rev. William G. Hardie, Lord Bishop of Jamaica, and Bishop Bartel Hilen Reinheimer of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester in New York. The Georgia Douglas JOHNSON file includes correspondence, selected writings, and some research notes and printed matter. The David SCHWARTZ file is divided into incoming and outgoing letters. Schwartz may have been Carrington's closest friend between 1926 and 1928.
One of Carrington's gay correspondents, Richard Pena, a New York commercial artist, was strangled to death in a suspected act of gay-bashing in 1958. Their correspondence dates from 1942 to 1946. Another Carrington protege, Walter Woodley, a U.S. Army private, died mysteriously of a fractured skull during routine maneuvers in North American waters in 1943. Carrington's efforts to elicit the exact circumstances of his death remained unsuccessful. Earlier in 1940, Lucien SCHACHER, a young Frenchmen Carrington had befriended in Paris in 1935, disappeared in the Soviet Union. Originally from Mulhouse in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, Schacher was first drafted in the military under the French banner but, after France's defeat, was pressed into the German army and sent to the Eastern front where he was made prisoner by Soviet troops. Carrington's correspondence with Schacher's family continued well into the 1950s.
Carrington was active in two memorial committees. The Harold JACKMAN Memorial Committee file consists primarily of correspondence with William Bennett, the librarian at Atlanta University, and letters addressed to Ivie Jackman regarding the Countee Cullen Memorial Collection. The Alain LOCKE Memorial Committee file includes several letters from its chairman, Arthur Fauset, the folklorist and Philadelphia real estate agent, agenda and minutes of meetings, materials from a memorial workshop held at New York University in 1955, articles by and about Locke, and miscellaneous articles related to Locke. Carrington was also the principal organizer for a memorial exhibition on Locke's life and work at the Schomburg Center in 1955. A three page holograph letter from Alain Locke is located elsewhere in the Ladislas SZECSI file. Szecsi was a collector and dealer of African art. Carrington also corresponded with the antiquarian bookseller Timothy TRACE.
Other prominent correspondents in the collection include Robert P. Daniel, president of Virginia State College and Shaw University; Mollie Smith Earle, a white American who migrated to South Africa in the 1940s and became a member of Black Sash; Ernst Teves, a German art collector who travelled extensively in Africa; the composer Samuel (Sammy) Lowe who led the State Musicians at Tennessee State College in 1935; the jazz musician George Washington who played with the Benny Carter band and the Nat King Cole trio in the 1930s; and Dr. Marion T. Wright, professor of education at Howard University in the 1950s. Carrington also corresponded with several African students he helped or tried to help migrate to the United States. Alex Botchway's and Francis Cann's are the more substantive of these files. Other African student letters are located in the chronological files.
The Professional Series consists primarily of correspondence, arranged alphabetically, while Carrington was a New York State parole officer. There is correspondence between Carrington and his employers as well as correspondence with young men who were in detention centers, with whom Carrington came in contact while volunteering at the Children's Temporary Home School in Anacostia, Washington, D.C. during his student years at Howard University. These young men continued to correspond with Carrington following their release from confinement. In addition, the correspondents include individuals Carrington met while on duty as a New York State parole officer.
The prison files are arranged alphabetically. Of interest are the files on a teen-age member of the “Socialistic Dukes” in Harlem in the early 1940's whom Carrington met at the New York State Training School for Boys. Later while in detention at the Elmira Reception Center in upstate New York, the young man wrote in several notebooks of his gang involvement. He sent these notebooks to Carrington and they are among his papers.
Carrington frequently taught courses on black studies. There are a few files containing autobiographical information on the students, student papers, and class preparation notes that Carrington kept as an instructor of black studies at the Mount Vernon Cooperative College Center.
Beginning in 1950, Carrington acquired several rooming houses in Brooklyn and in Harlem which he operated singly or jointly with a partner. The real estate records have been filed under the street address of each house. Other financial records are grouped under the following headings: Income Tax, Insurance, Inspection and Maintenance, and Savings and Loans. Included are leases, deeds and mortgage agreements, correspondence with tenants, contractors and lending institutions. The dwellings were generally in various stages of disrepair, and Carrington had difficulties in securing and repaying loans to renovate them. Altogether, these files provide insights on the housing patterns of blacks in New York and on the poor housing conditions that affected them, especially in Harlem.