Scope and arrangement
The Helen Armstead-Johnson Miscellaneous Theater Collections (HAJMTC) are formed by over two hundred file-folder level collections (1 to 3 file folders per personality/event). The collections contain information dating from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century documenting early dramatic actors, minstrel shows, vaudeville, musical revues, 1920s and 30s Broadway productions, the protest dramas of the 1940s and 50s, plays that came out of the Black Arts Movement of the late 60s and 70s, and theatrical productions of the 1980s and 90s. In addition to actors, playwrights, singers, musicians, and dancers (classical and popular) (e.g. Ira Frederick Aldridge, Eubie Blake and Katherine Dunham), and the productions they appeared in, there are collections for poets, and visual and plastic artists. There are eighteen collections documenting performers of the 19th century; twenty-nine collections covering the period 1900-1919; thirty-seven collections document the 1940s-1950s; and eleven collections for the 1980s and 1990s. The bulk of the collections cover the two most productive periods for black theater: ninety-two collections for the 1920s through the 1930s, and ninety collections representative of the Black Arts Movement.|||A sampling of the documents found in the collection include Bessie Oliver Miller's (Flournoy Miller's wife) draft of her unpublished manuscript entitled "Forbidden Kin" (letters in the collection reflect attempts to have the book published); questionnaires that include personal and professional information on a variety of performers including Minto Cato and Joseph Attles; a transcript of the interview Helen Armstead-Johnson conducted with Ulysses S. Thompson; and Fess Williams' arrangement for "Roll Jordan Roll." The collections also document non-theater related black personalities such as Shirley Black (painter), James Lowe (lawyer), and Leopold Sedar Senghor, poet and former President of Senegal. These files include resumes, clippings, letters and speeches. The theater related collections are comprised of a variety of materials including reviews and feature articles, contracts, flyers, letters, manuscripts, skits and lyrics. The collection also includes files of newpaper clippings, manuscript music, flyers and broadsides, and separately described files of programs, play scripts and sheet music.