The annual James Weldon Johnson Fellowship in African American Studies was established at the Beinecke Library in 2008. This fellowship is designed to permit outstanding scholars to devote a full academic year in residence at Yale University to research and writing in connection with the James Weldon Johnson Collection in the Beinecke Library.
Founded in 1941 by Carl Van Vechten, the James Weldon Johnson Memorial collection stands as a memorial to Dr. James Weldon Johnson and celebrates the accomplishments of African American writers and artists, beginning with those of the Harlem Renaissance. Grace Nail Johnson contributed her husband's papers, leading the way for gifts of papers from Dr. W. E. B. DuBois, Walter White and Poppy Cannon White, Dorothy Peterson, Chester Himes, and Langston Hughes. The collection also contains the papers of Richard Wright and Jean Toomer, as well as smaller groups of manuscripts and correspondence of such writers as Arna Bontemps, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston, Claude McKay, and Wallace Thurman.
Natasha Trethewey is author of three collections of poetry, Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000),Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), and Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) for which she won the Pulitzer Prize. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. At Emory University she is Professor of English and holds the Phillis Wheatley Distinguished Chair in Poetry.