Cover image for Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance
Aberjhani, 1957-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Facts on File, Inc., [2003]

Physical Description:
xxi, 424 pages : illustrations, maps ; 29 cm
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Call Number
Material Type
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PS153.N5 A24 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize
PS153.N5 A24 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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In the decades of the 1920s and 1930s in Harlem, New York City, there developed a unique awakening of mind and spirit, of race conciousness and artistic advancement. This declaration of African-American independence became known as the Harlem Renaissance and this is a study of the era.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Although numerous reference works contain significant entries on the Harlem Renaissance, this is the first encyclopedia devoted to the movement. Entries are ordered alphabetically and cover famous names (Duke Ellington, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston); influential organizations (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Universal Negro Improvement Association); popular black magazines and newspapers (Amsterdam News, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier); musicals (Hot Chocolates, How Come?); notable places ancillary to the awakening in Harlem (Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C.); and other topics (Howard University, Patrons, Rent party). Entries on nonblack people who had an effect on the time period, like Fiorella LaGuardia, illustrate the comprehensiveness of the volume. Most entries are half a page, though some stretch over a few pages. The volume is liberally filled with photos and graphics that bring the time period to life. All entries are followed by a further reading list. Additionally, there is a compiled bibliography at the end of the book. Cross-references are plentiful and helpful. A brief (three-page) foreword, entitled Race, Blackness, and Modernism during the Harlem Renaissance, provides a historical context and background for the entries, as does the introduction, Black Phoenix Rising. A Glossary of Harlem Renaissance Slang in appendix A defines terms such as dogs (feet) and kicks (shoes). Appendix B contains maps delineating subjects like African American population, states with laws banning interracial marriage, and train routes used to migrate northward. Even a somewhat detailed map of Harlem is provided. A chronology begins in 1619, when the first slaves came to Virginia, and continues up until the present day. Indexing is detailed but not comprehensive; the index entry Talented Tenth, for example, misses the references to Talented Tenth in the W. E. B. DuBois entry. Overall, this is a fine resource--one could read it like a book, from cover to cover. Recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries. \b \b -- RBB Copyright 2004 Booklist

Library Journal Review

This nicely illustrated collection of about 370 entries opens with Robert Abbott (1870-1940), who edited and published the Chicago Defender, one of the most important black newspapers ever. It then closes with Ziegfeld Follies, the annual staged show-girl spectacular that ran from 1907 to 1931. Between this A to Z, the writer known as Aberjhani (I Made My Boy Out of Poetry) and coauthor West outline and plumb that black artistic and popular outpouring of the 1920s and 1930s commonly centered in New York City's Harlem and called the Harlem Renaissance. Their frequently stretched but serviceable entries capture something of the social and political activism and artistic creativity that gave hopeful voice to the aspirations embodied in what Howard University philosopher Alain Locke popularized as "the New Negro." This promises to be a frequently thumbed resource. The appended maps, museums listing, and glossary of the era's slang contribute to a literature already thick but lacking a basic reference work such as this. Recommended for collections and libraries touching American or African American history and culture.-Thomas J. Davis, Arizona State Univ., Tempe (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Originating in the Great Migration of African Americans from the rural South to urban centers in the North and Midwest, the Harlem Renaissance flourished in new ideas in political thought; artistic achievements in the theater, music, literature, and the visual arts; and the establishment of civil rights organizations, unions, and other associations. This encyclopedia is a comprehensive alphabetical listing of more than 370 topics that exemplify this movement. Each entry is followed with suggestions for further reading. Appendixes include a glossary of Harlem Renaissance slang; 12 maps including those of the Confederate states, the Great Migration, and New York City; and a list of museums and centers that feature works from the period. The black-and-white photographs are primarily of individuals and there are occasional reproductions of artwork. The illustrations vary in quality, but do add to the text. Previous knowledge of the period, such as that found in Ann Graham Gaines's The Harlem Renaissance in American History (Enslow, 2002) or Veronica Chambers's The Harlem Renaissance (Chelsea, 1997), would help students use this encyclopedia effectively.-Ann Joslin, Erie County Public Library, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

No other period in 20th-century African American history, with the possible exception of the modern Civil Rights Movement, has drawn so much attention or encouraged so many exemplary works of scholarship as the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s-30s. Aberjhani and West provide a detailed account of the rich cultural and social diversity of the period. They supply lengthy, invigorating, informative, and challenging essays about personalities (e.g., Hurston, DuBois, Ellington, Parker, Schuyler, Toomer, Billie Holiday, Father Divine, FDR), places (New Orleans, Paris--"from the 1920s to the 1940s, which provided intellectual haven of racial and creative freedom for African-American artists and writers"), literary themes, political and sociological movements, discussions that highlighted the Harlem Renaissance, newspapers (Amsterdam News, Chicago Defender), Blackbirds of 1928, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, socio-economic events (the Great Depression, the Great Migration, jazz, Jim Crow, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, NAACP), the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and many more. A glossary; maps of migrations, New York itself, Harlem specifically, and the slave trade; and an appendix of museums and centers that feature works from the Harlem Renaissance round out this indispensable encyclopedia's 350 entries. An excellent and inspiring work of scholarship. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections. A. C. Vara Temple University



In the decades of the 1920s and 1930s in the section of New York City known as Harlem, there developed a unique awakening of mind and spirit, of race consciousness and artistic advancement. This declaration of African-American independence became known as the Harlem Renaissance. Stemming from the Great Migration when large numbers of blacks living in the rural South made their way to the urban centers of the North and Midwest, it was marked by an emergence of new ideas in political thought; numerous groundbreaking artistic developments in theater, music, literature, and visual arts; and an inauguration of civil rights organizations, unions, and other associations. Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance is a fascinating guide to this colorful and culturally productive era in African-American history. Including a foreword by Dr. Clement Alexander Price, an esteemed scholar and the current director of the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers University; a general introduction; A-to-Z entries; a chronology; a glossary of slang; a bibliography and list of sources for further reading, listening, and viewing; a subject index; and a general index, this encyclopedia contains an abundance of information presented in an accessible format that everyone can enjoy. More than 370 entries cover topics such as: Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters W. E. B. Du Bois Folk literature Langston Hughes Zora Neale Hurston National Urban League Opportunity magazine Charlie Parker Universal Negro Improvement Association and much more. Excerpted from Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance by Aberjhani, Sandra West, Clement Alexander Price All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.