“Revealing Her Story: Documenting African American Women Intellectuals” is a two-year project funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to arrange and describe the personal papers of nine African American women writers, artists and musicians. Collections included in the project are the Pearl Cleage papers; additions to the Delilah Jackson papers; the Samella S. Lewis papers; the Almena Lomax papers; the May Miller papers; the Undine Smith Moore papers; the Geneva Southall papers; the Mildred Thompson papers; and the Sarah E. Wright papers. To read the press release announcing the project, click here.
My name is Tricia Hersey and I am a Masters of Divinity candidate at the Candler School of Theology. I am also a poet and theater artist interested in the intersections of faith, spirituality and creativity. I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and have lived in Atlanta for almost 4 years. I have the honor of working as a processing assistant for the project, “Revealing Her Story: Documenting African American Women Intellectuals.” My first task has been to process the subject files of Samella Lewis. She is a living legend of art history/fine arts and has mentored countless African American artists in America and abroad. These files have been a treasure chest of the biographies, work samples and artist statements of almost every black artist who has been living and working in the last thirty years.
The most interesting find so far has been her extensive collection on the history, art and religion of Brazil. I was carried away to this country by the hundreds of documents on the powerful art that was created there. One of my research interests is traditional African religions, so I was overjoyed to find her carefully collected research on Candomblé. Candomblé is an African-Brazilian religion that is a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs which originated from different regions in Africa. It has also incorporated some aspects of the Catholic faith over time. During her travels, Mrs. Lewis collected numerous one-of-a-kind Brazilian-produced books and photographs of the religion. I am excited to use these files for my own research and know anyone with an interest in Brazil will embrace this collection.