Notice: Kathleen Cleaver Papers Will Be Closed For Processing

By Anicka Austin, Collections Processing Archivist.

The Kathleen Cleaver papers will be closed for processing starting January 1, 2024.

Kathleen Cleaver speaking at a Peace & Freedom Party rally at the University of Honolulu, 1968.

The papers of African American activist and lawyer, Kathleen Cleaver were acquired in 2020 by the late Dr. Pellom McDaniels, former Curator of African American collections. The collection includes photographs, printed material, audiovisual and born digital material, books and periodicals, writings, subject files, and correspondence. Before their arrival at Rose Library, photographs from the collection were arranged and described by Professor Leigh Raiford and her team, which included Sierra King, an Emory Arts and Social Justice Fellow and Tierra Thomas, former Visiting Archivist for Southern Jewish Collections at Rose Library. The papers have already been widely used for research and praised for their contribution to discourse on Black women in social organizing movements.

Kathleen Cleaver, passport photo, 1987.

When a collection arrives at Rose Library, it’s organization varies from neatly foldered papers alphabetized by subject to loose pages in a large garbage bag. Because we often can’t leave collection materials in the boxes – or garbage bags – they came in, we perform what we call accession-level processing. However, we find that additional physical arrangement and documentation of the material in a collection helps with ease of searching and greater opportunities for researcher access. Archivists close collections so we can take extended time to more fully arrange and describe the materials in a collection. We can see and touch each item (and folder if there are any) and ensure that there isn’t any additional preservation care needed. When preservation needs arise after the more fully processed collection is open and available to researchers, we can easily find and access that item. Additionally, during the processing phase, we rehouse items in acid free folders for long-term preservation.

Kathleen Cleaver, portrait, 1961.

Starting January 1st, the Kathleen Cleaver papers will be closed, and Rose Library’s collection services team will further (we often use the word “granularly”) process the collection, in the spirit of access and preservation described above. While closed, the papers will be arranged and described at the file and item level, with the goal to ease searching and make using the collection easier for the researcher. The collection will be open in February 2025. Please return to this blog post for any updated timelines. Reach out to Rose Library (rose [dot] library [at] emory [dot] edu) if you have any questions