The Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library is a place of discovery. All are welcome to visit and explore our unique holdings, whether as a researcher or an observer. The breadth and depth of our collections are vast, and it is nearly impossible to investigate every nook and cranny. We invite you this year, through our blog, to tour some of those places you didn’t know existed, and get acquainted with collections you might not have previously explored. Check back in with us weekly over the course of 2013 as we offer you a delightful look into some of the favorite, but perhaps lesser-known, corners of our collections. These pieces are visually interesting, come attached with fascinating stories, and are often 3D objects you might not have realized are part of what makes up The Extraordinary World of MARBL.
MARBL contains a collection of papers and memorabilia belonging to James Weldon Johnson, born 1871 and died 1938. A figure in the Harlem Renaissance and leader in the NAACP, Johnson was also the author, with his brother J. Rosamond Johnson, of “The Negro National Anthem,” the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” In addition, Johnson was an American Consul in Latin America during Theodore Roosevelt’s administration.
The steamer trunk that accompanied Johnson to his Foreign Service posts in Venezuela (1906-1909) and Nicaragua (1909-1913) is in MARBL’s Harris Room. Johnson’s full name and home city of New York is painted on the lid of the trunk. In addition, MARBL contains the Johnson family’s tea service, made of dark blue and white china with gold leaf, and the monogrammed linen napkins that accompanied it on their table.