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The Africana Theatre and Dance Collection

The experiences of people, what they think and  believe, how they behave and respond to life, are nestled in their cultural narratives. The mediums through which these narratives are expressed are infinite in number and vary according to their locations in time and space. However, researchers have historically limited their investigation of cultural narratives to a small number of mediums, with written documents in first place, and drawn images in second. Yet, from remote periods in time to the present, dance and theatre have conveyed, preserved, and invented, narratives without the limitations posed by language. The Africana Theatre and Dance Collection seeks to highlight the often unnoticed significant narratives that exist in performance, and to encourage researchers to use such as sources for the creation of historic, cultural, political, and social accounts.


Thanks to a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Africana Theatre and Dance Collection (ATDC), in Howard University's Founders Library, was founded. Thousands of items including theatre and dance programs, photographs, VHS and reel-to-reel tapes, documents, magazines, books, flyers, and announcements, among other things, were deteriorating in Founders Library. The existence of most of these items was unknown. The ATDC will be established as part of Founders Library's Channing Pollock Theatre Collection in an effort to preserve the imperiled materials and to reintroduce the academic arena and the institutionally unaffiliated researcher community to the Channing Pollock Theatre Collection. The Africana Theatre and Dance Collection will begin being uploaded to the Digital Howard open source platform by the fall 2020. 

With items ranging from the turn of the 20th century to current day, the Africana Theatre and Dance Collection exposes scholars and students to the rich narratives housed within African and African diaspora theatre and dance. Scroll down for samples from the ATDC. 


Howard University Drama Department production. 1978, poster.


**Click on the image of the poster above for more Howard University Theatre flyers from the ATDC.

Or click the ATDC Flyers button


The Africana Theatre and Dance Collection has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Web resource, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Scroll down for ATDC samples

Africana Theatre and Dance Collection Samples

Magazine: Geoffrey Holder's Calypso Festival


Dancer, choreographer, actor, painter, director, Geoffrey Holder (1930-2014), directed the revue, Geoffrey Holder's Calypso Festival in 1957. It opened at the Loew's Metropolitan Theatre in Brooklyn, NY. The show contained an all-star cast of over 60 dancers, singers, and performers and a house band led by Tito Puente. 

*Click on the picture of the cover to the left for more images from the magazine or click the Calypso magazine images button.

Program: Ruby & Ozzie Workshops


Ruby Dee (1922-2014), was an actress, poet, screenwriter, journalist, and civil rights activist. Ozzie Davis (1917-2005) was an actor, director, playwright, author, and civil rights activist. They were married from 1948 until Davis' death in 2005, and often played in movies and plays together.  In 1990, Davis and Dee conducted a series of workshops for Howard University's Department of Theatre Arts. 

*Click on the picture to the left for more images of the workshop series program or click the Davis and Dee Program button.

Photograph: Taraji P. Henson


Howard University alumna Taraji P. Henson (right) is an actress, producer, and author. She is perhaps best known for her iconic roles in the box office and television hits, Hidden Figures, Empire, and the Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, among others. The photograph depicts Taraji at Howard University hugging Theatre Arts Professor Clinton Carbon (left), c1990s.

Photograph: Isaiah Washington


Howard University alumnus Isaiah Washington (left) is an actor and producer. He was a main character in the hit TV show Grey's Anatomy, and was featured in countless movies and television programs with such actors as Steven Seagal, Jet Lee, and Spike Lee, among others. The photograph depicts Isaiah Washington with Anthony Adams (right) at Howard University, c1980s.

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