Scope and arrangement
The Kenn Freeman Papers consist of correspondence, programs, flyers, contracts, writings, scripts, sheet music, scrapbooks, and autograph albums. There are three series; Personal Papers, Professional Papers, and Family Papers. The collection contains information about his life before, during and after he began his career in the theatre. Correspondence between Kenn and Bee Freeman forms an important part of both the Personal Papers and Family Papers series. The bulk of the correspondence covers the years, 1937 to 1950, and was written primarily during the years Kenn was in the United States Navy or in England or when either Kenn or his mother were on tour with a production. The letters show the close personal and professional relationship between this mother and son.
The Kenn Freeman papers are arranged in three series:
Among the Personal Papers are various membership cards, his passport, and resume. His correspondence with his mother describes his activities in Great Britain including information regarding his fellow cast members in the Anna Lucasta productions. There is also information relating to the Department of Rent and Housing documenting his confrontations with that agency and his efforts to retain his mother's apartment following her death in 1986. Other materials in the collection include scrapbooks, a travel diary, and autograph albums. The autograph books are from his school years. The scrapbooks consist of articles, reviews of and programs for Anna Lucasta, photographs, telegrams, programs, sheet music, and letters from his admirers. These items are either pasted or taped to the pages in the scrapbook. Freeman's United States Navy scrapbook contains photocopies of postcards, flyers, invitations, menus, newspaper articles, greeting cards, Navy newsletters, and dried flowers he collected throughout his travels while in the service. The scrapbook has been photocopied and the original has been withdrawn from active use due to its condition. There is also a travel diary of the United States company tour of Anna Lucasta. The entries are primarily for the month of October and contain the addresses of hotels and individuals written in at the end of the book; probably of places where cast members were able to stay while touring with the company due to segregated public accommodations.
Series is divided into five subseries: Anna Lucasta, Writings, Cultural Organizations, Programs and Flyers, and Scripts. The majority of materials document his various roles in Anna Lucasta, 1936-1986 (2 1/2 inches) while he was in Great Britain, 1947 to 1949, and the national tour of the play in the United States. The contents include contracts, programs and playbills, and an itinerary for the United States tour of Anna Lucasta. Play scripts written by Freeman can be found in the Writings, 1961, undated (2 inches) subseries and include 'Tis Cricket (a revue) and Imoinda (a play), both of which he directed. Freeman also wrote articles for Pillbox, a newsletter and The Pepper Pot, a narrative-like script. The Cultural Organizations, 1949-1987 (2 inches) subseries is arranged alphabetically, and contains handbooks, flyers, form letters, constitution, newsletters, programs, membership cards, ballot, by-laws, and minutes that document Freeman's activities with theatre and cultural groups established to improve the welfare of African-American actors and artists.
Programs and Flyers, 1936-1981 (1/2 inch) acquired by Freeman and his mother form a significant part of the collection and have been placed here as it was not always clear who had acquired the item. Among copies of the Scripts, undated (4 1/2 inches) are: plays by Townsend Brewster and Cliff Mason, Garson Kanin's The Rat Race, Howard Sackler's The Great White Hope, and Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. The scripts are arranged in alphabetical order according to the last name of the scriptwriter or by title when the scriptwriter is unknown.
Series primarily consists of letters to Bee Freeman from Kenn, during his service in the United States Navy. There is information on Freeman, her career, and her activities while her son was serving in World War II. Scripts for Oscar Micheaux's Lying Lips and Norman Krasna's Dear Ruth, in which Bee Freeman appeared, can be found here. The series also includes documentation on Kenneth Freeman, Sr.; his death certificate and an honorable discharge record from the United States Army, dated 1918.