How do archives collect girl authors? In this interview series, we welcome curators and archivists to share how their institutions collect and utilize materials by girls who were or became published authors in their youth. Today, we look at the papers of Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), best known as the first African American author of a published book of poetry. Special thanks to Carrie Hintz, Associate Director of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Emory University.
What kinds of records do you keep relating to the author?
The Rose Library’s Philis Wheatley collection consists of two copybooks where Wheatley would both copy poems and pieces of prose from other sources (poems published in newspapers, etc.) and that include some original compositions. We do not hold any objects or realia other than those copybooks.
How are the records utilized? Do researchers use items for books/articles or for historical research for movies or tv shows?
While I cannot share what patrons have used the collection or how they have used it due to patron privacy considerations, I can say that we at the Library often include those copy books in classes (such as courses taught about black women writers or poetry classes) and we recently included one of them in an exhibition celebrating our African American collections and honoring the retirement of our colleague, Emeritus Curator of African American collections, Randall Burkett. More information on that exhibition is here: https://it.emory.edu/african-american-collections/index.html