At the time of James Weldon Johnson's death Carl Van Vechten and other friends of the great promoter of the Harlem Renaissance established a memorial collection at Yale University of papers and manuscripts related to the black literary movement. The intention of the founders of this collection was that it become the primary center for research in black literature and the Harlem Renaissance. Unfortunately that dream was never realized. Consequently, the most difficult problem confronting the would-be researcher of the Harlem Renaissance is the lack of a central repository for the papers of the participants in the movement. Instead, these papers are scattered in nearly a dozen major collections, and, one would guess, an even greater number of smaller collections. The principal locations of materials relating to the Renaissance include the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library; the Countee Cullen Memorial Collection in Special Collections at the Trevor Arnett Library of Atlanta University; the Countee Cullen Papers in the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University; the Zora Neale Hurston Collection at the University of Florida; the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection in the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Yale University; the Alain Leroy Locke Papers in the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University; the NAACP Collection in the Library of Congress; the William Stanley Braithwaite Papers in the Houghton Library at Harvard University; the Jean Toomer Collection in Special Collections at Fisk University; the Carl Van Vechten Collection in the Manuscript Division at the New York Public Library; and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
This study primarily utilized the materials in the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at Yale University (which included the papers of James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Rudolph Fisher, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Carl Van Vechten, Claude McKay, and Harold Jackman), the Countee Cullen Papers at the Amisted Research Center, the Jean Toomer Papers at Fisk University, and the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas. This last collection was an especially valuable find, overlooked by most previous students of the Renaissance. Not only did it include the Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Collection, consisting of extensive correspondence with James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Carl Van Vechten, and all of the writers that the Knopfs published, as well as publicity releases and other materials related to the Renaissance, but it contained the papers of Nancy Cunard, Idella Purnell Stone, Contempo magazine, Fannie Hurst, and many other literary collections which included often extensive correspondence with