CSUDH Reaches Agreement to House Historic African American Collectioncsudhbulletin July 23, 2020 0 COMMENTS
The CSUDH Campus News Center, the product of the university’s Communications and Public Affairs department, reported yesterday that the university has reached an agreement to house the approximately two million items in the Mayme A. Clayton Collection of African American History and Culture.
Dr. Clayton, a university librarian and historian, accumulated the collection of photographs and prints, manuscripts and books, film and sound recordings, and art, artifacts and memorabilia over 40 years. The collection spotlights the African American experience, with a special emphasis on the the American Southwest, Los Angeles in particular
Originally housed in a renovated three-story garage at her home in the West Adams neighborhood of Los Angeles, the Western States Black Research Center moved into a former LA County courthouse in Culver City in 2006.
In 2018, that arrangement ended and the renamed collection was temporarily housed at West Los Angeles City College,, but was largely tucked out of public sight.
But buoyed by community support, including LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas (as well as this very newspaper!) the board has signed an agreement to house the collection on the CSUDH campus in the Gerth Archives and Special Collections.(Check out some of the stories the Bulletin has written about the archives, here, here and here).
Owing to the social justice roots of the campus and its demographic makeup, we believe that there could be no better place or steward for the collection than this university.”CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham
The “university intends to begin immediately cataloging and archiving the collection so that it is more visible and accessible to the public,” according to the CSUDH Campus Report.
“We are honored to announce this historic partnership, and look forward to collaborating with the MCLM board of directors to provide the public one of the most important collections of materials by and about Americans of African descent,” CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham said in the Campus News Center article. “Owing to the social justice roots of the campus and its demographic makeup, we believe that there could be no better place or steward for the collection than this university.”
Last September, the Bulletin’s opinion editor, Robin Renay Bolton, wrote an opinion piece about discovering that the Clayton collection was temporarily homeless and how it made sense for CSUDH to house it. She had never heard of it before she searching on the internet for ideas to write about, and came across a story in the Culver City News.
“If CSUDH were to acquire the MCLM, not only would it gain an important piece of history, it would allow students who would never otherwise have heard about it, or the history it represents, the chance to discover it,” Bolton wrote.
“But even if it doesn’t come to CSUDH, if you’re reading these words, you have now officially heard of Mayme Clayton and the work she spent her life on,” Bolton continued. “So spread the word. It’s the kind of history you don’t see on TV, or in most textbooks. The kind of history it takes work to acquire and preserve; the kind of history it takes appreciation and respect to survive.”
Now there’s only question: where they are going to house the approximately 2 million items?