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Countee Cullen Correspondence, 1918-1939

Summary Information
Title: Countee Cullen correspondence
Dates: 1918-1939 (bulk 1918-1927)
Creator: Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946
Extent: 1 box
Language: Collection material in English
Collection Number: GV001
Abstract:
The collection consists of letters from poet Countee Cullen to his childhood friend William Fuller Brown, Jr. Much of the correspondence refers to Cullen's writing and includes many handwritten and manuscript copies of poems.

Repository: University of Minnesota LibrariesGivens Collection of African-American Literature, Special Collections and Rare Books

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Purchased in 1986 from Mrs. Nancy Brown, wife of William F. Brown, Jr., through the University of Minnesota Foundation as the first major acquisition of the Black Literature Collection (later Givens Collection of African-American Literature).

Access Restrictions:

Items in this collection do not circulate and can be used in-house only.

Copyright:

Copyright of all materials in the collection is retained by the Cullen estate. Contact the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118-5698, (504) 865-5535, for permission to quote any items in the collection for commercial purposes.


Arrangement

The material is arranged in three series:

  • Correspondence
  • Poems
  • Magpie

Biographical Note

Born in 1903, Countee Cullen was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Primarily known as a poet, he also wrote children's books, plays, and a novel. Born Countee Porter, he was adopted by Rev. Frederick Cullen, a Methodist minister, and attended DeWitt Clinton High School in New York City. He began writing poetry as a teenager and edited his high school newspaper and literary magazine. Cullen received degrees from New York University and Harvard. He married Yolande DuBois, daughter of W.E.B. DuBois, in 1928, but they divorced in 1930. He was a French teacher at Frederick Douglas Junior High School, where one of his students was James Baldwin. He married Ida Mae Roberson in 1940.

Cullen's poetry was in the lyric romantic tradition of Keats and Shelley, though he often (but not exclusively) touched upon racial concerns. Among is best known works are Color, Copper Sun, and The Ballad of the Brown Girl. He was writing the book of the musical St. Louis Woman when he died in 1946.

William Fuller Brown, Jr. was born in Lyon Mountain, N.Y. in 1904 and received degrees from Cornell and Columbia Universities. He was a research physicist at several firms including Sun Oil Co. and 3M. He later served as an electrical engineering professor at the University of Minnesota from 1957-1973. He died in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1983.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of correspondence from Countee Cullen to his childhood friend William F. Brown, Jr., as well as miscellaneous items relating to Cullen's writing. Many letters are partially written in Latin, and concern Cullen's literary and scholarly pursuits. Cullen included in his letters many handwritten and manuscript copies of his poems, in addition to a few newspaper clippings of his published poems, and copies of the high school literary journal and newspaper for which Cullen wrote. Also included are several of Cullen's attempts at writing song lyrics, as well as a copy of a letter regarding this pursuit from a composer's bureau. The bulk of the correspondence is from the years 1918-1927.

Subject Terms
Index Terms
  • This collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.
  • Cullen, Countee, 1903-1946.
  • Brown, William Fuller, 1904-
  • Dewitt Clinton High School (New York, N.Y.)
  • High school students' writings, American.
  • Correspondence.
  • Clippings.
  • Essays.
  • Manuscripts.
  • Poetry.
  • Programs.
  • Sheet music.
  • Advertising.
  • Student newspapers and periodicals.
  • Clinton news (New York, N.Y. : Dewitt Clinton High School)
  • Magpie (New York, N.Y.)
Detailed Description of the Collection
 Location  Title
 
Correspondence  
Box 1
Correspondence, 1918 Sept. 10. (1 item + envelope.)  Box 1, Folder 1
 
Correspondence, 1918 Sept. 22. Box 1, Folder 2
 
Correspondence, 1918 Dec. 26. Box 1, Folder 3
 
Correspondence, 1919 Jan. 21. Box 1, Folder 4
 
Correspondence, 1919 Jan. 30. Box 1
 
Correspondence, 1919 Feb. 22. Box 1, Folder 6
 
Correspondence, 1919 Apr. 15. Box 1, Folder 7
 
Correspondence, 1919 Jun. 6. Box 1, Folder 8
 
Correspondence, 1919 Jul. 31. Box 1, Folder 9
 
Correspondence, 1919 Nov. 4. Box 1, Folder 10
 
Correspondence, 1919 Dec. 14. Box 1, Folder 11
 
Correspondence, 1920 Jan. 24. Box 1, Folder 12
 
Correspondence, 1920 Mar. 29. Box 1, Folder 13
 
Correspondence, 1920 May 15. Box 1, Folder 14
Note  Includes: "Words", "The Poet", "The Puzzle", "The Prodigal", "Lad & Lass".
 
Correspondence, 1920 Jul. 27. Box 1, Folder 15
Note  Includes: "Gods", "To Jean on Her 16th Birthday", "Fortibus Pulchrae", "Query", "Love Came Like a Star", "Life and Death", "Judgment", "Eyes".
 
Correspondence, 1920 Jul. 28. Box 1, Folder 16
 
Correspondence, 1920 Sept. 29. Box 1, Folder 17
Note  Includes: "The New Mayflower", "I Held Thee as a Charm", "When I am Dead", "Auror Modernus (After the Quarrel)", "Heart's Door", "Petition".
 
Correspondence, 1920 Oct. 21. Box 1, Folder 18
 
Correspondence, 1920 Nov. 6. Box 1, Folder 19
 
Correspondence, 1920 Dec. 24. Box 1, Folder 20
 
Correspondence, 1921 Jan. 8. Box 1, Folder 21
Note  Includes: "Road Song", "In Clinton's Heart", "The Shadow", "Ave Atque Vale", "Noel".
 
Correspondence, 1921 Feb. 21. Box 1, Folder 22
 
Correspondence, 1921 Mar. 23. Box 1, Folder 23
Note Includes "In Memory of Lincoln"
 
Correspondence, 1918 [i.e. 1921] Apr. 9. Box 1, Folder 24
Note  Includes: "A Lover Teaches the Alphabet", "Values", "Motherhood", "The Parting of the Ways", Clinton news , Vol. 10, iss. 235 (Apr. 15, 1921).
 
Correspondence, 1921 May 14. Box 1, Folder 25
Note  Includes: "On Songs", "The Secret", "Pan on Boy's Week", "God and the Negro" (speech)
 
Correspondence, 1921 Jun. 20. Box 1, Folder 26
 
Correspondence, 1921 Jul. 6. Box 1, Folder 27
Note  Includes: "I Only Know I Love You", "Good-By Means Two Broken Hearts".
 
Correspondence, 1921 Aug. 21. Box 1, Folder 28
Note  Includes: "At the End of the Rainbow There's Gold", "My Beautiful You", "A Song for the Wife", "The Girl God Made for Me", "The Moth and the Flame", "Drifting Down Love's Bay".
 
Correspondence, 1921 Sept. 12. Box 1, Folder 29
 
Correspondence, 1921 Oct. 3. Box 1, Folder 30
Note Includes Clinton news , Vol. 11, iss. 241 (Sept. 16, 1921)
 
Correspondence, 1921 Oct. 29. Box 1, Folder 31
 
Correspondence, 1921 Dec. 28. Box 1, Folder 32
Note  Includes: Sweethearts , Facutlywocky , Night Rain , On the Arista (essay).
 
Correspondence, 1921 Dec. 30. Box 1, Folder 33
 
Correspondence, 1922 Feb. 8. Box 1, Folder 34
 
Correspondence, 1922 Feb. 12. Box 1, Folder 35
Note  Includes: Gypsy Road Song , Balsam , A Gift , An Old Old Song .
 
Correspondence, 1922 Apr. 13. Box 1, Folder 36
Note  Includes A Life of Dreams
 
Correspondence, 1922 Apr. 18. Box 1, Folder 37
Note  Includes If You Should Go
 
Correspondence, 1922 Jun. 8. Box 1, Folder 38
 
Correspondence, 1922 Jul. 11. Box 1, Folder 39
Note  Includes In Praise of Boys .
 
Correspondence, 1922 Aug. 20. Box 1, Folder 40
 
Correspondence, 1922 Sept. 25. Box 1, Folder 41
Note  Includes: Questioning Lydia , As Then, Even Now , The Poet to His Spouse .
 
Correspondence, 1922 Nov. 12. Box 1, Folder 42
Note  Includes: The Change , No Dreams to Sell
 
Correspondence, 1923 Feb. 1. Box 1, Folder 43
Note  Includes The Ballad of the Brown Girl .
 
Correspondence, 1923 Mar. 5. Box 1, Folder 44
 
Correspondence, 1923 Mar. 21. Box 1, Folder 45
 
Correspondence, 1923 Mar. 29. Box 1, Folder 46
 
Correspondence, 1923 Apr. 12. Box 1, Folder 47
 
Correspondence, 1923 Apr. 24. Box 1, Folder 48
 
Correspondence, 1923 Apr. 27. Box 1, Folder 49
 
Correspondence, 1923 May 4. Box 1, Folder 50
Note  Includes From Youth to Age
 
Correspondence, 1923 May 28. Box 1, Folder 51
 
Correspondence, 1923 Jun. 23. Box 1, Folder 52
Note  Includes Wisdom Cometh with the Years .
 
Correspondence, 1923 Jun. 28. Box 1, Folder 53
 
Correspondence, 1923 Aug. 10. Box 1, Folder 54
Note  Includes: The Moth & The Flame , Mary, Mother of Christ (sheet music; music by Wilbur Lesemann).
 
Correspondence, 1923 Sept. 9. Box 1, Folder 55
 
Correspondence, 1923 Sept. 10. Box 1, Folder 56
 
Correspondence, 1923 Dec. 18. Box 1, Folder 57
 
Correspondence, 1923 Dec. 23. Box 1, Folder 58
 
Correspondence, 1924 Jan. 2. Box 1, Folder 59
 
Correspondence, 1924 Mar. 10.  Box 1, Folder 60
 
Correspondence, 1924 Jul. 10. Box 1, Folder 61
Note  Includes Spirit Birth .
 
Correspondence, 1924 Aug. 20. Box 1, Folder 62
 
Correspondence, 1924 Sept. 17. Box 1, Folder 63
 
Correspondence, 1924 Nov. 25. Box 1, Folder 64
 
Correspondence, 1925 Jan. 2. Box 1, Folder 65
 
Correspondence, 1925 Jul. 22. Box 1
 
Correspondence, 1926 Apr. 7. Box 1, Folder 67
 
Correspondence, 1926 Jun. 26. Box 1, Folder 68
 
Correspondence, 1926 Aug. 28. Box 1, Folder 69
Note  Includes To Endymion .
 
Correspondence, circa 1927 Apr. 13 Box 1, Folder 70
 
Correspondence, 1927 Jun. 6. Box 1, Folder 71
 
Correspondence, 1936 Nov. 6. Box 1, Folder 72
 
Correspondence, circa 1937 Box 1, Folder 73
 
Correspondence, circa 1938 Box 1, Folder 74
 
Correspondence, 1939. Box 1, Folder 75
 
Poems  
Box 1
Poems, undated Box 1, Folder 76
Note  Includes: Body and Soul (2 c.), Bread and Wine , Caprice (2 c.), Cast Off , Colored Blues Singer , Disenchantment (2 c.)
 
Poems, undated Box 1, Folder 77
Note  Includes: En Passant , An Epitaph for a Master and His Slave , Gods , A Group of Epitaphs (2 c.), If Love Be Staunch , In Memoriam (2 c.), Judas Iscariot , The Lover's Grapes are Hung too High , The Magic Touch .
 
Poems, undated Box 1, Folder 78
Note  Includes: Mater Dolorosa (2 c.), Near White (2 c.), Nocturne , Rivaled , Road Song , Scandal and Gossip , Song in Praise , A Song of Sour Grapes .
 
Poems, undated  Box 1, Folder 79
Note  Includes: The Spark , Spring Reminiscence , Suicide Chant , Timid Lover , To John Keats, Poet, at Springtime .
 
Poems, undated Box 1, Folder 80
Note  Includes: To One Who Said Me Nay , To One Who Was Cruel (2 c.), Under the Mistletoe , Vilanelle Serenade (2 c.), Wisdom Cometh with the Years , Words to My Love .
 
Magpie  
Box 1
Magpie, 1919-1921. Box 1, Folder 81