Dorothy Porter Wesley Papers

The collection consists chiefly of the correspondence, writings, biographical materials, research files, photographs, and personal papers of librarian, curator and bibliophile Dorothy Porter Wesley. 

Originally from Virgina, Wesley began her career as a library assistant in the Miner Normal School library. There, librarian Lula V. Allan encouraged her to pursue a career in library science.Wesley graduated with a BA from Howard University and a Master’s in Library Science from Columbia University in 1831.

In 1930, Wesley began work as curator of the Moorland Foundation, now known as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, at Howard University and worked to build collections documenting the African diaspora until her retirement in 1973. Under Wesley’s administration, the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center became a world-renowned institution for the history and culture of people of African descent.

After retirement, Wesley worked as a consultant for Radcliffe University’s Black Women Oral History Archive and authored several articles, and books pertaining to librarianship and the African diaspora. Dorothy Porter Wesley is the author of Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837 (1971), and Afro-Braziliana: A Working Bibliography (1978).

The bulk of the collection is comprised of research materials relating to various subjects relating to African American history, culture, and bibliography, including the following: African-American abolitionists Sarah Remond and William C. Nell, African American literature, African literature, and Afro-Brazilian literature. The collection also includes records of the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History.