The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University has acquired the original artwork for a 1932 map of Harlem nightclubs drawn by E. Simms Campbell, the first African American illustrator to be syndicated and whose work was featured regularly in national magazines.
The map, purchased at auction on March 31, provides a “who’s who” guide of the nightclubs that drove Harlem nightlife during and after Prohibition, including the Savoy Ballroom, the Cotton Club, and Gladys’s Clam Bar. It was published in the inaugural edition of Manhattan Magazine and appeared in Esquire nine months later.
“It might seem like the literary movement that made Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston household names and Harlem’s night club scene in the 1920s and 1930s are unrelated, but they are in fact both essential features of the tremendous cultural outpouring we call the Harlem Renaissance,” said Melissa Barton, curator of Yale’s James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection. “We are delighted to add E. Simms Campbell’s gorgeous and playful rendering of this era to the collection. The map will augment Beinecke’s noted strength in materials relating to the Harlem Renaissance.”
The map will be included in a spring 2017 exhibition at the library on the Harlem Renaissance. It is expected to be available to researchers this fall.
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Direct to Hi-Res Image of Map