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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 980: T-533

Papers of Gail Lumet Buckley, 1883-2011


Family documents about Lena Horne's life and research material for Gail Lumet Buckley's books; and records concerning Buckley's book tours and book publicity.


  • Creation: 1883-2011

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Gail Lumet Buckley as well as copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.55 linear feet ((8 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 3 folio folders, 6 folio+ folders, and 1 supersize folder, 57 photograph folders, 8 folio photograph folders, 3 folio+ photograph folders, 31 slides, and 40 audiotapes.)

The Gail Lumet Buckley Papers contain Lena Horne and family papers, writings and related material, photographs, and audiovisual material.

Series I, LENA HORNE AND HORNE FAMILY PAPERS, 1931-2011 (#1.1-3.4, FD.1-F.3, F+D.1-F+D.6, SD.1), includes Lena Horne's correspondence and personal papers. Correspondence is comprised of greeting cards, letters postcards, and telegrams from advertisers, colleagues, fans, friends, producers, as well as letters from her family. Personal papers include Horne's awards and honorary degrees; fliers, programs and posters from her performances; clippings; scrapbooks; and Horne's own reflections about her life and career. Of particular interest is material related to her musical tour, "Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music, "which toured in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom from 1981 until 1984. Notebooks from the tour include photographs, drawings, fabric swatches and detailed accounts of each outfit worn on stage; as well as guest lists, programs, and reviews for the shows are also included. Family papers contain clippings primarily related to Horne's granddaughters, Jenny and Amy Lumet. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.

Series II, WRITINGS AND RELATED, 1983-2011 (#3.5-9.3), contains personal and professional correspondence between Buckley and acquaintances, colleagues, and friends mostly related to her writings. Also included are letters sent by Buckley to celebrities and organizations while organizing a tribute for her mother in 1994. The bulk of the series consists of research material for Buckley's books, American Patriots and The Black Calhouns, as well as clippings, publicity, press kits, and speeches given by Buckley at libraries and cultural institutions. Also included are administrative files, drafts and book tour itineraries for Buckley's first book, The Hornes: An American Family. The series is arranged in chronological order.

Series III, PHOTOGRAPHS, 1883-1993 (#PD.1-PD.68), contains photographs of Lena Horne, Gail Lumet Buckley, composer Lennie Hayton, Teddy Jones, and other celebrities, family, friends, and acquaintances. Lena Horne photographs include childhood images; portraits; as well as her images from musical performances, film, and television appearances. Of particular interest are photographs of Lena Horne and Edith Piaf, one of her musical inspirations, Fats Domino, Sammie Davis, Jr., Toni Morrison, and Stevie Wonder. The series is arranged in chronological order. Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.

Series IV, AUDIOVISUAL, 1974-1990 (#T-533.1-T-533.40), includes interviews conducted by Buckley with veterans for her book,American Patriots. In these recordings, interviewees discussed education, politics, segregation, and military history. This series also contains interviews with Lena Horne; and Carmen de Lavallade about their memories, careers, other Hollywood celebrities. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.


Author Gail Lumet Buckley was born Gail Horne Jones in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the daughter of actress and singer Lena Horne and publisher Louis Jordan Jones. She attended Radcliffe College (BA 1959). After graduation, she worked for Marie-Claire and Life magazines, in addition to campaigning on behalf of John F. Kennedy. In 1963 she married director Sidney Lumet; they had two children, Amy and Jenny, and later divorced. In 1983 she married editor Kevin Buckley.

Inspired by a trove of family papers, Buckley published The Hornes: An American Family (1986), in which she traced six generations of her family's history, exploring the experience of the black bourgeoisie and her mother's challenges in becoming one of the first black female stars in Hollywood. She also went on to write American Patriots: The Story of Blacks in the Military from the Revolution to Desert Storm (2001), The Black Calhouns: From Civil War to Civil Rights with One African American Family (2016), and Fighting for Freedom: National Museum of African American History and Culture (2017). Buckley is a frequent writer for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among many others. She has appeared on a number of radio and television programs, and speaks at a wide variety of university and other historical and cultural venues.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. Series I. Lena Horne and Horne family papers, 1931-2011 (#1.1-3.4, FD.1-FD.3, F+D.1-F+D.6, SD.1)
  2. Series II. Writings and related, 1983-2011 (#3.5-9.3)
  3. Series III. Photographs, 1883-1993 (#PD.1-PD.68)
  4. Series IV. Audiovisual, 1974-1990 (#T-533.1-T-533.340)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2018-M89

The papers of Gail Lumet Buckley were given to the Schlesinger Library in June 2018 by Gail Lumet Buckley.

Processing Information

Processed: April 2019

By: Amber L. Moore and Ayoola White with assistance from Ashley Thomas.

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Buckley, Gail Lumet, 1883-2011. Papers of Gail Lumet Buckley, 1883-2011: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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