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Schomburg Center: The Lorraine Hansberry Papers

The Lorraine Hansberry Papers 

Welcome to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. We are very pleased to be the official repository for the Lorraine Hansberry Papers. The Lorraine Hansberry Papers chronicle the life of the award-winning playwright and document her legacy, which was largely amassed and constructed by her late former husband, Robert Nemiroff, and his third wife, Jewell Handy Gresham-Nemiroff. The papers include virtually all of Hansberry’s writings, autobiographical materials, journals, diaries, personal and professional correspondence, and related materials generated by Nemiroff and Gresham-Nemiroff as the executors of the Lorraine Hansberry Estate.

The papers are organized into four series: Writings, Professional, Legacy, and Personal. 

The largest and most substantive series, Writings, contains the bulk of Hansberry’s play scripts, including A Raisin in the Sun, The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window, and Les Blancs, plus production files for each play, as well as other produced, unproduced, and incomplete plays and film scripts, among them Toussaint, The Drinking Gourd, What Use Are Flowers? and Masters of the Dew. Included also are lectures and speeches Hansberry gave primarily as the result of the success of A Raisin in the Sun, articles she wrote as a journalist and editor, and files for the book, The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for Equality. There are also short stories, poems, and letters that Hansberry wrote from 1947 to 1964.

The Professional series includes correspondence and materials relating to Hansberry’s activism including files for Camp Unity, the Labor Defense League, and the 1952 Montevideo Peace Conference. The Legacy series was largely created by Robert Nemiroff to acknowledge Hansberry’s contribution to American letters, and features files detailing his activities as the executor of the Lorraine Hansberry Estate, including three major projects, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, Raisin, (The Musical), and “All The Dark and Beautiful Warriors.” This series also contains the FBI files on Hansberry that were obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. Included in the Personal series are Hansberry’s diaries, journals, correspondence, and autobiographical information about Hansberry.

The audio visual component of the collection also includes cast photos as well as photographs of Hansberry and her friends and family, films and videos, and audio materials including recordings of Hansberry’s plays and recorded interviews, as well as artwork that she created and the personal items that surrounded her in her home, including books, magazines, and journals.

Open to the general public since 2010, the Lorraine Hansberry Papers were arranged by archivist Matthew Lyons with assistance from laurie prendergast for the Lorraine Hansberry Estate prior to their transfer to the Schomburg Center. The Lorraine Hansberry Papers were processed by Steven G. Fullwood, along with Janice Quinter, Nurah-Rosalie Jeter, and Diana Lachatanere with assistance from Lisann Lewin and Artis Q. Wright.

If you would like to know more about the collection, you can find additional information through the online finding aid.

Using the Papers

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