Scope and arrangement
The Curtis Powell Papers document Powell's career as a scientific researcher and as an activist for black life and culture. The Papers reveal the emergence of a unique social consciousness as well as decades of work towards a significant immunological problem - the incidence of sleeping sickness in livestock - taking Powell from New Jersey and New York City to Kenya and Zambia, and then back to the United States. The Papers are divided into three series: PERSONAL, BLACK PANTHERS and PROFESSIONAL PAPERS.
The slight PERSONAL PAPERS series (1 folder) includes the few documents from Powell's early life, including a copy of his birth certificate, his military discharge, his PhD diploma and a letter written to his mother from Sweden. Later documents include several iterations of his curriculum vitae, as well as an introductory "biography", written by John Jay College (City University of New York) African American Studies professor Dr. Kwando Kinshasa, that contextualizes Powell's scientific pursuits alongside his awakening social consciousness. Powell's personal correspondence contains a few letters from African acquaintances seeking assistance to continue their own higher education and several emails from molecular biologist Harvey Bialy, received in the months before Powell's death.
The BLACK PANTHERS PAPERS series (2 folders) contains primarily printed materials, from both Powell's arrest and incarceration or from the 1990s. Included are photocopies of: photographs taken by Roz Payne at the time of Powell's arrest; copies of "Panther 21 Trial News", "On The Ideology of the Black Panther Party", "Panther 21 - Strangers to Justice"; an article Powell wrote for "The Black Panther"; a petition for release submitted by the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center community; and an internal report, prepared by the Black Panther Party, on the arrest of the New York 21. This series also contains documentation from the later 20th and 25th anniversary reunion efforts of the Panthers, including some correspondence from Black Panther Party members, including letters from Mutulu Shakur and Mark Cook, as well as letters regarding the organization of the 25th Anniversary celebration. Powell saved programs and handbills from the event, as well as copies of the letters negotiating his appearance on "Positively Black", which taped shortly before the anniversary celebration.
The bulk of the collection is contained within the PROFESSIONAL PAPERS series (. 6 lin. ft.), which is divided into subseries corresponding with major activities within Powell's professional life. The first, Research and Reports, contains all of the formal reports Powell wrote to formalize his findings, as well as the correspondence necessary for the collection and interpretation of his research information. As most of the reports within this subseries are undated, and exist in several overlapping iterations, the reports themselves have been organized alphabetically. Likewise, some drafts of these reports contain a title page declaring them to be an "appendix", because they were taken from the appendices of Powell's 1983 curriculum vitae. The smaller Publications and Presentations subseries consists of copies of the published versions of reports he had written, and papers related to presentations he gave. The next subseries, Patents, contains Powell's correspondence with his attorneys at Sprung, Horn, Kramer & Woods and the formal documentation they sent to him. Included in the Funding subseries are applications and inquiries created by Powell and his associates to secure funding for his research and the eventual manufacture of the "Powell Vaccine", as well as his correspondence with New York University detailing their disagreement on Powell's patent rights and his eventual loss of funding from the school. Finally, the Kakmasia subseries contains documents relating to a Kenyan Health Outreach organization with which Powell was involved during his time in Africa.
The Curtis Powell papers are arranged in three series: