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Angela Davis Donates Papers to Schlesinger Library

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which houses the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America.
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, which houses the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America. By Soumyaa Mazumder
By Sarah J. Hong, Crimson Staff Writer

Angela Y. Davis, a famed political activist and scholar of African American, Marxist, and feminist studies,is donating her papers to the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library.

Davis, a professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, studies race in the criminal justice system and is an advocate for prison abolition.

She is also famously known for her radical activism in the 1960s as a leader of the Communist Party U.S.A., and for her support of the Soledad Brothers, three prison inmates charged with killing a guard in Soledad Prison in 1970. Her involvement in the case resulted in her being charged with conspiracy. She was later acquitted.

The Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America is a research library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, dedicated to housing archives documenting women’s lives and activities in the United States.

In a statement, Davis wrote that she felt honored her writings would join the work of other women who are “advocates of social transformation” at the library.

“My papers reflect 50 years of involvement in activist and scholarly collaborations seeking to expand the reach of justice in the world,” Davis wrote in a statement.

Faculty specializing in African American Studies believe the library housing Davis’s papers will help further academic study of her lifetime work.

“Schlesinger's acquisition of her papers will ensure that generations of students, scholars, and activists have access to her body of work and a better understanding of the histories she has helped to shape,” wrote Farah J. Griffin, a professor of English, Comparative Literature, and African American Studies at Columbia University.

Elizabeth Hinton, an assistant professor of History and African and African American Studies at Harvard, said Davis’s papers will also strengthen the Schlesinger Library’s stature as a center for studying the history of civil oppression.

“The acquisition of Angela Davis’s papers makes the Schlesinger Library even more vital for all those seeking a deeper understanding of the history of oppression and resistance on a global scale.” Hinton wrote in a statement.

The collection of Davis’s work includes letters, photographs, and audio from Davis’s radio show “Angela Speaks,” according to a press release from the library. The library will also host materials related to Davis’s incarceration and trial from the Soledad Prison case, as well as the movement advocating for her release.

Davis’s papers will be available for research by 2020.

—Staff writer Sarah J. Hong can be reached at

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