Papers of Angela Y. Davis, 1937-2017 (inclusive), 1968-2006 (bulk)
Writings, correspondence, speeches, and subject files of black feminist philosopher and prison abolitionist Angela Y. Davis.
- Majority of material found within 1968-2006
Language of Materials
Materials in English.
Access. Collection is open for research. Folders #6.6, 15.6, 18.7, 57.6 and 57.7 are closed until 2046, as specified in the agreement between Angela Y. Davis and the Schlesinger Library.
An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.
Conditions Governing Use
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Angela Y. Davis is held by Angela Y. Davis during her lifetime. After Davis's death, copyright in any unpublished material in her papers will transfer to the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.
Extent119.12 linear feet ((197 + 1/2 file boxes, 4 folio boxes, 14 folio+ boxes, 8 oversize boxes) plus 3 supersize boxes, 3 supersize folders, 120 photograph folders, 16 folio photograph folders, 10 folio+ photograph folders, 642 slides, 147 audiotapes, 65 videotapes, 12 CDs, 38 DVDs, 2 motion pictures, 5 phonograph records)
7.92 Megabytes (1 file)
The papers of Angela Y. Davis document her work as a scholar, critical theorist, public intellectual, and political activist.
The collection holds diaries; correspondence; drafts of writings and speeches; teaching syllabi and research; organizational records and files from the Communist Party and a number of organizations Davis founded or was involved in; research files on political prisoners, international liberation movements, the prison industrial complex, and other topics; legal files, correspondence, and publicity material from the 1972 trial of People v. Angela Y. Davis, as well as letters and fabric banners sent to Davis from around the world while she was in jail between 1970 and 1972; files documenting Davis's status as an international public speaker; photographs of and by Davis; political pins and buttons; and audiotapes and videotapes of many of Davis's speeches and public appearances.
Folder titles written by Davis or her assistants were retained. Folder titles or clarifications added by archivists are in brackets.
The collection is arranged in twelve series. In some instances, there is considerable overlap between series; cross-references are given in series-level scope notes and sometimes at the folder level, but researchers should be aware that material on a particular topic may be in more than one series. For example, Davis and colleague Kum Kum Bhavnani conducted interviews with imprisoned women in three prisons for a research project. Interview transcripts and notes, as well as the final papers, are in Series III, and audiotapes of the interviews, when they exist, are in Series XII. Series VII, Speeches and engagements, is primarily folders maintained by assistants on Davis's travels and appearance schedule. Speeches Davis gave at various events are included in this series, and related material may also be found in other series: for example, speeches given at memorial services of family and friends are in Series XII, but programs from the events and other related material are in Series I.
Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, ca.1944-2017 (inclusive), 1964-1990s (bulk) (#1.1-10.13, 200FB.1-200FB.8, 201F+B.1-201F+B.16, 203F+B.1-203F+B.17, 202OB.1-202OB.9, SD.1), includes Davis's appointment books; award and honors; biographical sketch and curricula vitae; clippings and interviews; legal cases after her acquittal in 1972; memorial programs and tributes for Audre Lorde, Toni Cade Bambara, and Kendra Alexander; passports; and notebooks documenting travel plans for her trips to Cuba, Chile, and the Soviet Union. Of special note is Davis's 1972 diary which chronicles her incarceration at the Marin County jail, her acquittal, and her international speaking tour. The series also includes pages from her baby book, her high school progress report, and the contract for sale of her childhood home in Birmingham, Alabama. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1962-2016 (#11.1-18.20, 203F+B.18-203F+B.19), contains personal correspondence between Davis and her family, friends and colleagues; as well as general correspondence including domestic and international support mail received after her acquittal in 1972. Personal correspondence includes letters and postcards between Davis and her family and friends while studying at Brandeis University, abroad at the University of Paris, and the University of California at San Diego (1962-1966). Included are letters from Davis to her parents, Sallye and Frank Davis. Of particular interest is a letter sent to her parents including a detailed account of her experiences and thoughts while traveling through Greece. Also of note is another letter to Davis's parents addressing their concerns about her political involvements and the Black Power Movement. Letters regarding the sale of Davis's childhood home in Birmingham, Alabama; letters from prisoners; fan mail; as well as greeting cards, invitations, and letters from friends are also included. A copy of the original FBI "Most Wanted" post for Davis is also included. Correspondence that arrived at the Library in folders was kept as arranged; loose and miscellaneous correspondence was sorted by the archivist and organized alphabetically by surname. Letters from those who signed with only a first name were filed alphabetically under the first name. The series is arranged in alphabetical order.
Series III, WRITINGS, 1968-2012 (inclusive), 1991-2000 (bulk) (#18.21-46.6, 200FB.9, 204F+B.1-204F+B.3), contains administrative correspondence and contracts relating to Davis's published writings; and drafts of her articles, essays, papers, and reviews. Handwritten and typed drafts of Davis's books: Angela Davis: An Autobiography, The Angela Y. Davis Reader, Blues Legacies and Black Feminism; If They Come in the Morning; and Women, Culture, and Politics are included. Items of special interest include a manuscript of Davis's autobiography with edits by Toni Morrison, poetry written by Davis, and her open letter to black high school students while incarcerated at the Marin County jail. Transcripts of interviews of women prisoners in the United States, the Netherlands, and Cuba; research material; notes from meetings with prisoners; consent forms; and drafts of Davis and researcher Kum-Kum Bhavnani's essay, "Women in Prison: Researching Race in Three National Contexts" are also included. The series is arranged alphabetically by format.
Series IV, PEOPLE V. ANGELA Y. DAVIS, 1962-1997 (inclusive), 1970-1972 (bulk) (#43.7-60.12, 199FB.1v-199FB.4v, 205FB.1-205FB.10, 204F+B.4-204F+B.12, 206F+B.1-206F+B.4, 208F+B.1-208F+B.9, 209+B.1-209F+B.5, 210F+B.1-210F+B.3, 211F+B.1-211F+B.4, 212F+B.1-212F+B.4, 202OB.10-202OB.16, 207OB.1-207OB.1, 220SB.1, 222SB.1, 223OB-225OB, 207OB), contains material related to the 1972 trial of Angela Davis on charges that she purchased guns used by Jonathan Jackson in a 1970 armed takeover of Marin County Courthouse in an attempt to free the Soledad Brothers (George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette). Series includes court trial transcripts, lawyer's notes, legal briefs and other documents, FBI wanted poster, other "Free Angela" posters, correspondence with George and Jonathan Jackson, clippings sent to and kept by Davis's mother Sallye, letters sent to Davis and her family, National United Committee to Free Angela Davis (NUCFAD) material, fliers, clippings scrapbooks, etc. The series includes many letters sent to Davis while she was being held at Marin County jail. Many of these are postcards, and many from East Germany; that country and others participated in an international campaign to "Free Angela." These letters were not delivered to Davis at the time she was in the Marin County jail. They were discovered years later by the daughter of Marin County Sheriff Teague, who sent them to Davis. Davis did in fact receive other mail while in Marin County jail; the series includes a file of letters from incarcerated people (mostly men) as well as copies of her responses to them. In addition to material kept together by the Davis family, the series also includes material that came from her lawyer Doris Walker. Other trial-related material was found loose throughout the collection and sorted together by archivists. Because of the varying provenance (including some unknown) of the material, subseries are organized to keep material together by provenance. Duplication (especially of clippings and NUCFAD and other fliers) may occur between subseries. Some trial-related material can also be found in other series; see Series X for photographs, Series XI for three-dimensional memorabilia, and Series II for another copy of Davis's FBI file she was sent by a former employee of the US Postal Service (#15.10).
Subseries A, Davis family files, 1962-1989 (inclusive), 1970-1972 (bulk) (#43.7-44.20, 199FB.1v-199.4v, 205FB.1-205FB.2, 204F+B.4-204F+B.9, 202OB.10-202OB.14), includes clippings sent to and kept by Sallye Davis, letters sent to Angela Davis and her family, National United Committee to Free Angela Davis material, posters, fliers, and speech notes. Some of this material documents Sallye Davis's speaking engagements on behalf of her daughter, the Davis family's involvement in some of the Committees to Free Angela and Angela Davis Legal Defense Fund, and the networks of Communist Party and civil rights activists that were involved in the campaign to "Free Angela." Also includes printed material from local Committees to Free Angela around the United States. This subseries also includes other material kept by the Davis family about Angela Davis that is not related to her trial, such as clippings about her UCLA hiring controversy, National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression material, and clippings about Davis's 1980 wedding and later work. Material in this subseries arrived at the Library in a carton labeled "AYD Trial Archive #1." Most material was stored in two accordion files labeled "Angela: the trial." Material from these was foldered and titled based on the titles given each compartment inside the files. Loose material found at the back of the two files was organized by the archivist, and retains the title of the accordion file as well. Other material present in the carton was also organized by the archivist; while most of this material is the same type as that filed in the accordion files, it was foldered separately to maintain the original filing system. Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries B, Legal files, 1965-1997 (inclusive), 1970-1972 (bulk) (#44.21-52.7, 205FB.3, 204F+B.10-204F+B.11), contains one of Davis's lawyers Doris Walker's notes, legal briefs and other documents. The series also contains an incomplete set of court trial transcripts. Of note in Walker's files are letters sent to UCLA philosophy professor and anti-war activist Donald Kalish about Davis and her UCLA hiring; these were organized by lawyers into categories. Along with interviews with Davis's friend and associates, the letters were intended to provide evidence that Davis's life was under threat and her purchase of firearms was a reasonable response. The subseries also includes mimeographed copies of letters sent to George Jackson in prison, and Walker's attempt to stop Davis's letters to Jackson from being published in 1975. Material in this subseries arrived at the Library in cartons labeled "Trial - Walker." Folders are arranged alphabetically.
Subseries C, Letters sent to Marin County jail, 1970-1973 (#52.8-56.9, 205FB.4-205FB.5, 204F+B.12), includes both letters of solidarity and hate mail sent to Davis while she was incarcerated at the Marin County Courthouse jail - some of the letters are also addressed to Captain Harvey Teague, chief of Marin County police, and/or to other law officials (Deputy Sheriff Gossett, Judge Warren McQuire). These letters were not delivered to Davis at the time she was in the Marin County jail. They were discovered later by Captain Teague's daughter, who sent them to Davis. The majority of the subseries are letters and postcards of solidarity from around the world. Letter-writing campaigns and petitions in support of Davis's release were sent from Belgium, Hungary, Italy, the Soviet Union, and East Germany. As part of a state-sponsored campaign, school children in East Germany sent template postcards to Davis often accompanied by drawings and personal messages letters in German. Unopened letters were opened by the archivist and arranged by country of the sender. Empty envelopes are also arranged by country. Folders are arranged alphabetically, with envelopes filed at the end.
Subseries D, General trial files, 1970-1992 (#56.10-60.12, 205FB.6-205FB.10, 206F+B.1-206F+B.4, 208F+B.1-208F+B.9, 209F+B.1-209F+B.5, 210F+B.1-210F+B.3, 211F+B.1-211F+B.4, 212F+B.1-212F+B.4, 202OB.15-202OB.16, 207OB.1-207OB.10, 220SB.1, 222SB.1, 223OB-225OB, 227OB), includes clippings, letters to Davis (including some with her carbon responses), fliers, Davis's FBI wanted poster, letters and printed/published material from Committees to Free Angela from all over the United States including San Jose; and newsletters documenting the trial. Of particular interest are letters from Alice Collins, mother of Addie Mae Collins, who was killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama; as well as Davis's letter to friend, and Black Panther member, S. Deacon Alexander discussing secret prison fieldtrips and the importance of letters from her friends because word from the outside world was tainted. The subseries also includes personal letters between Davis and George Jackson, and a copy of the indictment of Davis and Ruchell Magee for the Marin County courthouse incident. The subseries is arranged alphabetically.
Series V, EDUCATION AND TEACHING, 1964-2016 (#60.13-75.9), contains Davis's course outlines, syllabi, class lists, bibliographies, exams, lecture notes, and photocopies of class readings relating to her teaching tenure at San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, New College of California School of Law, California College of Arts and Crafts, and the University of California Santa Cruz where she served as professor in the History of Consciousness until in 2008. Administrative files such as appointment letters and teaching contracts; promotion process material; sabbatical and medical leave documents; and files related to her retirement are also included. Of particular note are files documenting Davis' role as University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies in 1994 including letters supporting her appointment, clippings, and a proposal for the allocation of university funds. Also included are copies of legal documents related to Davis' termination from the University California, Los Angeles as Acting Assistant Professor due to her social activism and membership in the Communist Party in 1970; and her detailed cumulative bio bibliography documenting her teaching history from 1991 to 2007. The series includes of Angela Davis's graduate school material while a student at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany (1965-1967); and the University of California San Diego in Department of Philosophy (1967-1970) including thesis outline drafts, progress reports, and prospectus; readings with Davis's graduate school notes on various philosophers. Additional notes are listed at the end of the series because it is unknown if they were taken during Davis's time in graduate school. The series is listed in chronological order.
Series VI, ORGANIZATIONS, 1970-2011 (#75.10-85.13, 212F+B.5-212F+B.8, 213F+B.1-213F+B.9, 207OB.11-207OB.14, 220SB.2, E.1), contains files related to those national and local organizations with which Davis had a long relationship and/or served on a Board of Directors or Board of Advisors. Organizations include Women of Color Resource Center, National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (NAARPR), Critical Resistance, and the Prison Activism Resource Center. Communist Party USA material is also included here. Files may include minutes, board meeting reports, notes, correspondence, newsletters, and other material relating to the function of the organization. The bulk of the series is files related to Critical Resistance, and most of these relate to the planning of its inaugural conference in Berkeley, California. The Critical Resistance conference in September 1998 was the result of months of work of an organizing committee dedicated to the study and influence of policy about prisons and prisoners in the United States, with a desire to abolish incarceration and to free and rehabilitate prisoners. Out of the conference came a move to establish a national movement and/or organization to coordinate action and activism against the prison industrial complex. Angela Davis was the driving force behind the conference, and these files show her deep investment in the planning process and with the creation of the conference experience, including choosing featured musicians, outlining press strategy, and imagining ways to incorporate art and voices of prisoners. Only a few Critical Resistance files in this series date from after the initial conference. See also Series VII and Series XII for more Critical Resistance material. Communist Party USA material includes Bettina Aptheker's files from the 1972 convention (while Davis was in jail); working files on Party resolutions about the status of women, and files relating to Davis and Gus Hall's 1984 campaign on the Communist Party ticket for President/Vice President of the United States. National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression files include much information on political prisoners in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s – who they were, who was organizing on their behalf, etc. Alliance files also include signed petitions gathered in support of freeing political prisoners. Davis was a member of the Board of Directors of National Black Women's Health Project beginning in the late 1980s; her files from that organization are also included here. The series is arranged alphabetically by organization.
Series VII, SPEECHES AND ENGAGEMENTS, ca.1969-2016, undated (#85.14-152.15, 205FB.11, 213F+B.10-213F+B.18, 215F+B.1-215F+B.2, 214OB.1-214OB.6, 220SB.3-220SB.4, SD.2), contains speeches and presentations delivered by Davis at conferences, rallies, schools, fundraisers, graduation ceremonies, and other events across the United States, as well as in Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany, and other countries. Most of the materials relate to the administrative details of Davis's travel, accommodations, and compensation: itineraries, plane tickets, booking information, speaking agreements, checks, receipts, payment agreements, and letters requesting Davis to speak. Between 1990 and 2012, it is likely that an administrative assistant generated and organized many of these documents. Davis's speech notes or transcripts, when present in a folder, are noted. Speech topics include prison abolition, promoting affirmative action, and the importance of feminism that centers women of color. Original folder titles were inconsistent in style. In some cases the archivist rearranged the original title in order to list event or site of speech first.
Series VIII, SUBJECT AND RESEARCH FILES: PRISONS, 1939-2015 (inclusive), 1970-2010 (bulk) (#152.16-169.16, 216FB.1-216FB.7, 215F+B.3-215F+B.18, 214OB.7-214OB.18, 220SB.5), contains Davis's files and research materials on the prison industrial complex in the United States, incarceration, political prisoners, prison abolition, and related topics. The series generally includes newspaper clippings, magazine articles (and photocopies of each), articles printed from the internet, articles sent across listservs and printed; published material (reports, pamphlets and brochures) from a number of organizations; correspondence (usually within folders with other material); Davis's notes on various topics; communications from a number of groups organized to free specific political prisoners (Angola 3, Mumia Abu-Jamal). Of particular interest are files on political prisoners, which include a variety of material produced by those working to free them. Some of the files on political prisoners dating from the 1970s may have at one time belonged to Charlene Mitchell or another Alliance member. Many files contain only unmarked printouts of recent research, these provide a general idea of Davis's reading and awareness as she formulated her analyses and ideas. Some folders have printed material with a sticker "distributed for CR group"; these are most likely reading material circulated among those involved in the Humanities Research Institute reading group on prison abolition (1999). Some folders contain an entire issue of a periodical with an article of interest; others contain periodicals relevant to the topic of prison activism and abolition. Files created in the 1970s and 1980s were mostly titled directly by Davis; those created later either have titles made with a labelmaker or were titled by an assistant. The series is arranged alphabetically.
Series IX, SUBJECT AND RESEARCH FILES, 1937-2014 (inclusive), 1970-2000 (bulk) (#170.1-195.13, 216FB.8-216FB.15, 217F+B.1-217F+B.23, 219F+B.1-219F+B.9, 214OB.19-214OB.22, 218OB.1-218OB.14, 220SB.6-220SB.8, SD.2), contains Davis's files and research materials, primarily relating to the following topics: international revolutionary movements, particularly African; African American women and feminism; African American history; multiculturalism and critical race theory. Material includes copies and originals of newspaper clippings and magazine articles; articles printed from web sites or sent across listservs; published material (reports, pamphlets and brochures) from a number of organizations; correspondence (usually within folders with other material); fliers, brochures, and other items of interest; and Davis's notes on various topics. As a whole, the series documents Davis's research and political interests over 40 years. This series contains material that Davis may have used for teaching or book research. Material obviously connected to a specific class or book project can be found in Series III and IV; all other material is included here. Many scholarly articles were individually foldered, and contain no notes or annotations by Davis. When Davis's notes appear on a document or article, it is noted in the inventory. Of particular interest are Davis's reading notes on the History of Woman Suffrage (#194.19). Research files Davis created in the 1970s are often general topics with a number of related articles or fliers; indices listing the folder's contents were stapled to the inside of each folder. A few folders with material solely from 1984 may have been created for research during Davis's vice presidential run, but were not clearly marked as such. Many files document national liberation movements in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, primarily in Africa. Davis followed general anti-apartheid activism, as well as the specific struggles of the African National Congress (ANC), South West African People's Organization (SWAPO), and in the countries of Angola, Guinea, and Zimbabwe. Some of these files contain solely or primarily published materials; these were either collected by Davis or were sent to her from those active in such movements. Files also exist on socialist movements in Cuba and Grenada, and on the Palestinian national movement. Files created in the 1970s and 1980s were mostly titled directly by Davis; those created later were titled by an assistant. Titles created by an archivist are in brackets. The series is arranged alphabetically by title.
Series X, PHOTOGRAPHS, ca.1945-2016, undated (inclusive), ca.1970-1999 (bulk) (#PD.1-PD.152), contains photographs, most dating from the 1970s-1990s, of Angela Davis, her family and friends; and document her life, the 1972 trial, and her world travels and speaking engagements. Photograph albums document Fania Davis's trip to Europe during the campaign to free Angela Davis. There are also photograph albums and photographs documenting Angela Davis's trip to Cuba, East Germany, and the Soviet Union after her 1972 trial acquittal. The series also includes personal photographs depicting family, friends, colleagues, and events attended by Angela Davis. "Amateur photography" denotes photos presumably taken by Angela Davis as a hobby. Photographs documenting Angela Davis's career as an international activist and speaker are also included. This series is arranged thematically and then chronologically, with photographs of Davis alone, with others, and at events; followed by photographs of others and of events.
Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be digitized and available online.
Series XI, MEMORABILIA, ca.1946-2017 (#195.14-198.12, 228.1-228.10, 219F+B.10-219F+B.14, 218OB.15-218OB.16, 221SB.1-221SB.4, 226F+B.1-226F+B.6, SD.3), contains three-dimensional keepsakes, political buttons not listed elsewhere in the collection, art collected by and depicting Davis, and personal items such as a baby shoe. Included are many pins, medals, and military decorations from the countries Davis visited in 1972 after her acquittal: primarily the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Cuba. The series also includes pins and buttons related to various political issues (homelessness, LGBT rights); other political buttons can be found throughout the collection, primarily in Series IV, VI, VIII, and IX. The series also contains artwork, including both that depicting Davis and that collected by her. The series is organized alphabetically.
Series XII, AUDIOVISUAL, ca.1971-2016, undated (#T-547.1-T-547.148, DVD-143.1-DVD-143.38, CD-90.1-CD-90.12, Vt-314.1-Vt-314.65, MP-84.1-MP-84.2, Phon-75.1-Phon-75.5), includes audiotapes, CDs, DVDs, videotapes, motion pictures, and phonograph records. This series contains speeches, lectures, and interviews delivered by Angela Davis at schools, conferences, and other events in the United States and abroad. Also includes recordings of Critical Resistance meeting proceedings and Davis's 1970s radio show "Angela Speaks." Visual materials include documentaries, television interviews, speeches, lectures, travel footage, and short films. Davis's role (as participant or subject) in each recording is noted in the inventory. Includes materials in English, Spanish, and German. In 1997 Angela Davis and Kum-Kum Bhavnani conducted a research project on women's prisons. Audiotape interviews with Cuban women prisoners from this project are restricted to in-library use only. In this series
Scholar, author, and black feminist philosopher Angela Yvonne Davis was born on January 26, 1944, in Birmingham, Alabama. Her mother, Sallye Bell Davis, was a schoolteacher and her father, Frank Davis, owned a service-station frequented by African American motorists during the Jim Crow era. Angela left Birmingham after receiving a scholarship to attend Elizabeth Irwin High School in New York City.
After high school, Davis attended Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, where she majored in French literature and spent her junior year abroad at the University of Paris. She graduated from Brandeis magna cum laude (1965) and pursued graduate study in philosophy at Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Germany. Davis returned to the United States in 1967 to study under the tutelage of Marxist scholar Herbert Marcuse at the University of California, San Diego; and to join the Civil Rights Movement.
Davis accepted her first teaching position in the philosophy department at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1969. She almost immediately became entangled in a controversy after the school's newspaper published an article stating she was a Communist. Upon confirmation of her political affiliation, the majority of the California Board of Regents, led by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, urged for her removal. However, other University of California professors argued that issues of freedom of speech in the academy included political affiliation, and Davis was not terminated at that time. Davis then became the Los Angeles chair of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committee committed to the support of three black men, George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette, accused of killing a prison guard at the Soledad State Prison. Citing her involvement with the Committee as "unprofessional conduct," the regents terminated Davis from her teaching post.
In August 1970, Davis was charged as an accomplice to conspiracy, kidnapping and murder for her alleged role in the armed take-over of a Marin County courthouse in an attempt to free the Soledad Brothers. Davis went into hiding and was added to the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List. She was captured in New York in October 1970 and extradited to California two months later. Her arrest and prosecution sparked an international "Free Angela Davis" campaign to gain her release and led to a high-profile trial which culminated in her acquittal in 1972. After her acquittal, Davis embarked on an international speaking tour within socialist countries including Cuba, East Germany, Russia and Soviet Union.
Davis helped found the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, an organization dedicated to freeing political prisoners, in 1973. Her work as an educator at the university level includes appointments teaching various courses at the San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco State University, New College of California School of Law, California College of Arts and Crafts, and the University of California Santa Cruz where she was appointed the Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies (1994) and is now Distinguished Professor Emerita of history and consciousness and feminist studies.
She was the Vice Presidential candidate for the Communist Party of the United States in the 1980 and 1984 presidential elections. Davis is an advocate for prisoners' rights and a founding member of Critical Resistance, a national organization dedicated to abolishing the prison industrial complex. She writes and lectures on social injustice, social movements, and the intersections of race, gender, and class. She has published many books including Angela Davis: An Autobiography (1974), Women, Race, and Class (1983), Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday (1999), and Abolition Democracy: Beyond Prisons, Torture, and Empire (2005).
The collection is arranged in twelve series:
- Series I. Biographical and personal, ca.1944-2017 (inclusive), 1964-1990s (bulk) (#1.1-10.13, 200FB.1-200FB.8, 201F+B.1-201F+B.16, 203F+B.1-203F+B.17, 202OB.1-202OB.9, SD.1)
- Series II. Correspondence, 1962-2016 (#11.1-18.20, 203F+B.18-203F+B.19)
- Series III. Writings, 1968-2012 (inclusive), 1991-2000 (bulk) (#18.21-43.6, 200FB.9, 204F+B.1-204F+B.3)
- Series IV. People v. Angela Y. Davis, 1962-1997 (inclusive), 1970-1972 (bulk) (#43.7-60.12, 199FB.1v-199FB.4v, 205FB.1-205FB.10, 204F+B.4-204F+B.12, 206F+B.1-206F+B.4, 208F+B.1-208F+B.9, 209+B.1-209F+B.5, 210F+B.1-210F+B.3, 211F+B.1-211F+B.4, 212F+B.1-212F+B.4, 202OB.10-202OB.16, 207OB.1-207OB.10, 220SB.1, 222SB.1, 223OB-225OB, 207OB)
- Series V. Education and teaching, 1964-2016 (#60.13-75.9)
- Series VI. Organizations, 1970-2011 (#75.10-85.13, 212F+B.5-212F+B.8, 213F+B.1-213F+B.9, 207OB.11-207OB.14, 220SB.2, E.1)
- Series VII. Speeches and engagements, ca.1969-2016 (#85.14-152.15, 205FB.11, 213F+B.10-213F+B.18, 215F+B.1-215F+B.2, 214OB.1-214OB.6, 220SB.3-220SB.4, SD.2)
- Series VIII. Subject and research files: Prisons, 1939-2015 (inclusive), 1970-2010 (bulk) (#152.16-169.16, 216FB.1-216FB.7, 215F+B.3-215F+B.18, 214OB.7-214OB.18, 220SB.5)
- Series IX. Subject and research files, 1937-2014 (inclusive), 1970-2000 (bulk) (#170.1-195.13, 216FB.8-216FB.15, 217F+B.1-217F+B.23, 219F+B.1-219F+B.9, 214OB.19-214OB.22, 218OB.1-218OB.14, 220Sb.6-220SB.8, SD.2)
- Series X. Photographs, ca.1930-2016 (inclusive), ca.1970-1999 (bulk) (#PD.1-PD.152)
- Series XI. Memorabilia, ca.1946-2017 (#195.14-198.12, 228.1-228.10, 219F+B.10-219F+B.14, 218OB.15-218OB.16, 221SB.1-221SB.4, 226F+B.1-226F+B.6, SD.3)
- Series XII. Audiovisual, ca.1971-2016 (#T-547.1-T-547.148, DVD-143.1-DVD-143.38, CD-90.1-CD-90.12, Vt-314.1-Vt-314.65, MP-84.1-MP-84.2, Phon-75.1-Phon-75.5)
Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Accession number: 2018-M3
With the assistance of The HistoryMakers, the papers of Angela Y. Davis were acquired by the Schlesinger Library, in partnership with Harvard University's Hutchins Center for African & African American Research, in January 2018.
Processed: June 2019
By: Amber Moore, Jehan Sinclair, Ayoola White, and Jenny Gotwals, 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.
Books received with the Angela Davis Papers are cataloged separately with information about their provenance. Some periodicals received with the collection are also cataloged separately with information about their provenance. Other periodicals were kept with the archival papers; these are listed by title in the inventory.
- African American college teachers
- African American feminists
- African American graduate students
- African American philosophers
- African American radicals
- African American vice-presidential candidates
- African American women
- African American women political activists--United States
- African American women scholars
- African American women--Political activity
- African Americans--Politics and government
- Anti-apartheid movements
- Apartheid--South Africa
- Black Panther Party
- Black nationalism--United States--History
- Blues (Music)--History and criticism
- Blues (Music)--Social aspects
- Civil rights--United States
- College teachers--United States
- Communists--United States
- Compact discs
- Critical legal studies--United States
- Critical theory
- DVD-Video discs
- Feminism--United States
- Jordan, June, 1936-2002
- Manuscripts for publication
- National liberation movements--Angola
- National liberation movements--Grenada
- National liberation movements--Namibia
- National liberation movements--South Africa
- National liberation movements--Zimbabwe
- Political activists--California
- Political prisoners--United States
- Prison-industrial complex
- Prisoners' writings, American
- Prisoners' writings, American--Anthologies
- Prisoners--Civil rights
- Prisons and race relations
- Prisons--Law and legislation--United States
- Prisons--United States
- Race relations--Law and legislation--United States
- Racism--United States
- Sexism--United States
- United States--Race relations--History
- United States--Race relations--Philosophy
- Vietnam (Democratic Republic)
- Women jazz musicians
- Women political activists--United States
- Davis, Angela Y. (Angela Yvonne), 1944-. Papers of Angela Y. Davis, 1937-2017 (inclusive), 1968-2006 (bulk): A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- Language of description
- Processing of this collection was made possible by the Alice Jeanette Ward Fund and the Patricia M. King/Schlesinger Library Director's Fund.
- EAD ID
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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