The Wyatt Houston Day Collection of Poetry by African Americans, the most important private collection of Black poetry, now belongs to LSU. The LSU Libraries Special Collections will house the over 800 items previously owned by book collector and dealer Wyatt Houston Day. This collection includes works from the 18th century, the Harlem Renaissance and through to the 21st century.
“This collection allows for a dynamic understanding of canonical African American poets and offers numerous avenues for new research and appreciation of the poetic voice of African Americans throughout American history,” said John Miles, curator of books at LSU Libraries Special Collections. “The acquisition of these books makes LSU an important research site for anyone interested in American literature and African American culture, as well as affording students the chance to materially confront this genre’s grand sweep, political importance, and remarkable intellectual contribution to the nation and the world.
Some of the main works in this collection include:
- a first edition of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s rare second book from 1895 “Majors and Minors” once owned by Frederick Douglass’ family and inscribed to his niece
- a collection of books by Pulitzer Prize winner Gwendolyn Brooks, as well as a broadside published following the death of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- the original typed manuscript of the music cues for Langston Hughes’ twelve-part poem, “Ask Your Mama,” inscribed by Hughes to poet Amiri Baraka, also known as LeRoi Jones.
“The Wyatt Houston Day Collection complements existing literary holdings at LSU, but it also means an enormous boost to the representation of works by writers who have been historically marginalized. The acquisition of this collection is a significant contribution to LSU’s efforts as they relate to diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said LSU Libraries Dean Stanley Wilder.
LSU Libraries: “Most Important Private Collection of African American Poetry Now in Special Collections”
Filed by February 18, 2022on