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Personal, 1977-2016

Identifier: Subseries 2.1

Collection Scope and Content Summary

From the Collection:

The Ntozake Shange Papers include partial manuscripts, typescripts, and computer printouts for works such as Betsy Brown, From Okra to Greens, The Lizard Series, Nomathemba, Lost in Language & Sound: A Choreoessay; Some Sing, Some Cry, and for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. The earliest piece of writing in the collection is a 1966 poem titled "They Are Safe for Now" from a high school literary magazine.

The collection contains personal correspondence from family members, friends, and collaborators, and business correspondence including royalty statements from numerous literary agents, contracts with literary agents, editorial letters, and contracts and agreements related to the film adaptation of for colored girls. Also included are Shange's diaries and agendas with known entries ranging from 1981-2010; teaching materials from the University of Florida and Prairie View A&M University; numerous awards including the Barnard Medal of Honor, an honorary degree from Oberlin College, a certificate of Special Congressional Recognition, and several City Proclamations in honor of her work.

Photographic materials in the collection are often unlabeled and are printed in a variety of formats including both color and black and white prints. Some photographic negatives also exist within the collection. Among the photographs in the collection is an album of photographic prints The Sweet Breath of Life. Shange saved a number of press clippings, flyers, and promotional materials related to her work, performances, and appearances. Additionally, there are several works or art given to and/or collected by Shange, and works of art produced by Shange, most notably art inspired by her Lizard Series. A variety of ephemera and collectables exist within the collection including a marionette, rosary beads, Kama Sutra cards, jewelry made by Shange, Shange's magnifying glass, and her writing pen.

To complement the aforementioned materials, selections from Shange's Library - chosen in concert with Barnard College Professor Kim F. Hall - are included within this collection. Many of the books - which speak directly to Ntozake Shange's interests and influences - are heavily annotated. In cases where notes, scraps of paper, receipts, book marks, etc. were in the texts, the archivists have made the decision to leave said markers. The collection also includes approximately 17GB of born digital materials on CD-Rs, DVD-Rs, DVD-RWs, 3.5 inch floppy disks, and on a MiniDV. Documents within these digital materials include photographs, a video of Shange performing "Dangling Participles and Shady Syllables," a video of Shange receiving the 2009 Otto Rene Castillo Award for Political Theater, and manuscripts.


  • 1977-2016


This collection has no restrictions.


0.834 Linear Feet (2 document boxes)


From the Collection: English


Repository Details

Part of the Barnard Archives and Special Collections Repository

3009 Broadway
New York NY 10027 United States