Vivian Harsh Research Collection
of Afro-American History and Literature
Heritage Press Archives, 1944-2002
Collection Number: Heritage 88/01
Provenance: Donation of Paul Breman, 1988. Additional accessions in 1992, 2000, 2002.
Size: 8 linear feet (18 archival boxes)
Repository: Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature at Carter G. Woodson Regional Library (Chicago Public Library)
9525 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60628
Access: No restrictions
Citation: When quoting material from this collection the preferred citation is:
Heritage Press Archives, [Box #, Folder #], Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature, Chicago Public Library
Processed by: Mollie Godfrey, August 2006
Heritage Press, which operated out of London between the years of 1962-1975, was one of the most important publishers of black poetry of its time. Best known for virtually launching the careers of Robert Hayden, Audre Lorde and Dolores Kendrick, the press also published major works of poetry by Arna Bontemps, Waring Cuney, Fenton Johnson, and Ishmael Reed. In addition, the press published many prominent members of the Black Arts Movement – including Conrad Kent Rivers, Frank Horne, Dudley Randall, Lloyd Addison, Ronald L. Fair and Russell Atkins – as well as several poets who remain largely unknown today.
The press was founded by Paul Breman, an antiquarian book trade specialist who was born in the Netherlands in 1931. From 1948 to 1961, Breman wrote and published several Dutch books, articles and translations on the subject of spirituals, the blues and African-American poetry. Three years following his move to London in 1959, Breman’s admiration for the work of Robert Hayden prompted him to begin publishing a series of books written by new black poets, a series that eventually ran to twenty-seven volumes over twelve years. In 1966, Hayden’s The Ballad of Remembrance won the Grand Prize for Poetry at the first World Festival of Negro Arts, and the press widened its circulation by partnering up with Dudley Randall’s Detroit-based Broadside Press.
Throughout the series’ thirteen-year run, Breman intended it to provide an outlet both for interesting young poets and established authors whose poetry had never appeared in book form. As a result, only two poets published more than one book with the press – Robert Hayden, who released The Night-Blooming Cereus in honor of the press’s ten-year anniversary, and Conrad Kent Rivers, whose two collections both appeared posthumously. The press’s holdings are thus generally limited to either early or retrospective moments in its authors’ careers.
During his career as a publisher, Breman also edited two anthologies of black poetry, one released by Heritage Press in 1962 and another released by Penguin Books in 1973. The earlier anthology focuses on the work of previously unpublished poets, while the latter collects the work of more established poets from Africa, the West Indies and the United States. Heritage Press finally closed in 1975, but reemerged briefly in 1994 when Breman launched an annual series of Black Poetry Pamphlets that ran until 2002. In this series, Breman published a selection from Fenton Johnson’s The Daily Grind: 42 WPA Poems as well as newer work by poets with whom he had previously worked, such as Russell Atkins, Waring Cuney and Allen Polite.
A full account of the series and its place in African-American literary history, edited by Lauri Ramey and Paul Breman, will be published by Ashgate in 2007. This research compendium will consist of essays about and contributions by eighteen of the twenty-five authors who were published in the series, a full bibliography of all of these authors, detailed lists of the material now held by the Vivian Harsh Research Collection, and a complete list of the Heritage poetry collection. An appendix relates the story of W. E. B. DuBois's hitherto unrecorded visit to the Netherlands in 1958, and the relationship between Breman and DuBois that is documented in the press’s archives.Bibliography
Bailey, Leaonead Pack. Broadside Authors and Artists: An Illustrated Biographical Directory. Detroit: Broadside Press, 1974.
Breman, Paul. “About Paul Breman.” 13 August 2006. Paul Breman (1931-).” Biography and Genealogy Master Index. Farmington Hills, Michigan: Thomson Gale, 1980-2006.
“Paul Breman (1931-).“ 16 July 2001. Contemporary Authors Online. 2002. Gale. 21 August 2006.
Ramey, Lauri and Paul Breman. The Heritage Series of Black Poetry, 1962-1975: A Research Compendium. Burlington, VT:Ashgate, 2007.
Thompson, Julius E. Dudley Randall, Broadside Press, and the Black Arts Movement in Detroit, 1960-1995. Jefferson: McFarland, 1999.
The Heritage Press Papers consists largely of correspondence and manuscripts, as well as publicity, clippings and a small number of photographs. Most of these papers pertain to the press’s primary periods of operation: 1962-1975 and to a lesser degree 1994-2002. Featured in the collection are the manuscripts and correspondence of Robert Hayden, Dolores Kendrick, Audre Lorde, Arna Bontemps, Fenton Johnson and Dudley Randall, as well as a private correspondence with W.E.B. and Shirley DuBois. The collection also contains original manuscripts of almost all of the books published by the series. These manuscripts are often accompanied by Breman’s own comments, additional poems that were cut from the published volumes, and a well-kept correspondence that documents each volume’s development. The collection also includes Breman’s working file on the anthology of black poetry entitled You Better Believe It, which he compiled for Penguin Books in 1973.
Although the collection was originally arranged in three alphabetical runs by accession date, these files have now been consolidated for several reasons: 1) the accession dates were not necessarily reflected in the enclosed materials (with early materials appearing in later runs, etc.); 2) many major authors had files and materials in all three runs, often – in the case of name changes – filed under different names; and 3) authors, organizations, and subject files were all intermixed within the alphabetical runs – making it difficult for someone not already familiar with Breman’s subject categories to locate particular materials, while also making it difficult to quickly ascertain the type of materials located in each file.
These materials have been rearranged into the following five series: Author Files, Editorial Files, Administrative Files, Subject Research Files and Photographs. Within these series, we have respected the original order of the collection wherever possible; any original order that was seriously disrupted by this arrangement will be noted below. All miscellaneous folders were arranged as such by Breman himself; only his correspondence with Vanessa Bell was deemed significant enough to deserve a folder of its own. Multiple folders relating to a single person or subject have been numbered in parentheses. The inventory will also note in italics the location of any materials relating to a particular person or organization that either are filed in multiple places or could be filed in various places. Bold numbers in parentheses indicate the number of items contained in each folder. A small number of envelopes and duplicate materials have been discarded.Author Files, 1944 – 2002
The author files constitute the great bulk of the collection, representing authors with whom Breman had direct contact. Roughly thirty of these authors – whose names are marked in the inventory that follows with an asterisk (*) – were published by Heritage Press either in their own volumes or pamphlets, or in the Sixes and Sevens anthology. The remaining authors are either people Breman considered publishing, people who were interested in being published by him, or people who were included or considered for inclusion in Breman’s Penguin anthology. Folders are arranged alphabetically by author, and contain some combination of: correspondence; original, typescript and photocopied manuscripts; galleys; publicity; and clippings (arranged within folders in that order). Photographs originally found in these folders have been removed and filed separately for preservation purposes. Also, any material originally found in Breman’s author files that related directly to Sixes and Sevens has been re-filed in the administrative files along with all of the other Sixes and Sevens material.
The collection contains significant correspondence and/or manuscripts relating to, with or by the following authors: Lloyd Addison, Samuel Allen, Russell Atkins, Arna Bontemps, Sterling Brown, Sebastian Clarke, Waring Cuney, Owen Dodson, W.E.B. and Shirley DuBois, Ray Durem, Mari Evans, Eseoghene (Lindsay Barrett), Ronald L. Fair, Robert Hayden, Frank Horne, Frank John, Fenton Johnson, Dolores Kendrick, Audre Lorde, Clarence Major, Mukhtarr Mustapha, Dudley Randall, Ishmael Reed, Conrad Kent Rivers, Ellease Southerland, and James W. Thompson. Notable amongst these materials are the correspondence and manuscripts of Robert Hayden, Audre Lorde and Dolores Kendrick, as well as Fenton Johnson’s unpublished poetry manuscript (The Daily Grind: 42 WPA Poems) and Breman’s correspondence with Arna Bontemps about these poems. Also of interest are: a Mari Evans manuscript that was pulled from circulation immediately after publication due to a disagreement between Evans and Breman, and correspondence that documents Breman’s mistaken release of Ray Bremser’s Drive Suite under the name of the then recently deceased Harold Carrington.
In addition to these materials, the collection also contains a number of manuscripts by and correspondence with well-known authors who were never published by Heritage Press, including Peter Abrahams, Jan Carew, John Henrik Clarke, Linton Kwesi Johnson, E.A Markham, and John A. Williams. Several of these manuscripts appear never to have been published at all, making this collection a rich source of unpublished material.Editorial Files, 1944 – 2002
This series consists of people, generally affiliated with a particular magazine or organization, with whom Breman corresponded about editorial matters such as new authors, permissions, publicity, and so forth. Several people, such as Russell Atkins, Arna Bontemps, Sterling Brown, Waring Cuney, Clarence Major and Dudley Randall, filled both an authorial and an editorial role in relation to the press; they have been filed in the author files and cross-listed here. Other prominent authors, such as David Henderson, Naomi Long Madgett and Eric Walrond, filled a purely editorial role; they have been filed here and cross-listed in the author files. In addition to Breman’s lengthy editorial correspondence with Arna Bontemps and Dudley Randall, his communications with Walter Lowenfels and Harold Jackman are also significant.Administrative Files, 1944 – 2002
These files, originally assembled by Breman, are organized either around particular companies and organizations that were central to the business of Heritage Press, or into subject categories pertinent to the administrative side of the press. Materials relating to Breman’s two anthologies and the Heritage Black Poetry Pamphlet series were originally found grouped by subject rather than author and have been preserved in their original order within this series. These files all follow Breman’s original arrangement with one exception: several authors who once had or still have author files of their own have had all materials that were considered for Sixes and Sevens re-filed as the newly created “Sixes and Sevens: Rejected Contributors” folder. A few letters and/or questionnaires found in the author files that were written in regards to Sixes and Sevens have also been added to Breman’s own “Sixes and Sevens: Contributors” folder. One item, a January 1974 issue of Race Today, was listed in Breman’s inventory of the Penguin anthology files but could not be found in the collection. We have photocopied the review of Breman’s anthology found in that issue and inserted it into the collection in place of the missing original. In addition, we have supplemented the Heritage Pamphlet folders in this series with the finished copies of each pamphlet that were originally sent directly to Michael Flug, head archivist at the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature.Subject Research Files, 1944 – 2002
These files, originally intermixed with the author files, represent authors with whom Breman apparently had no direct contact. A number of these files contain clippings, but some also contain typescript and photocopied manuscripts – most of which appear to have been forwarded to Breman by either Walter Lowenfels or Clarence Major. Wherever it was possible to determine the source of such materials, this source has been noted in parentheses in the inventory below. Any manuscripts that appear to have come directly from the author have been filed in the author files, though it was not always possible to make this distinction with certainty.Photographs, 1962 – 1975
The final series in this collection consists of some fifty photographs that were removed from the author files. With the exception of some more personal photos of Shirley, W.E.B. and David DuBois, all of the photos are of authors published by Heritage – typically headshots that were considered for the covers of their books. Many of the DuBois photographs, on the other hand, were taken by Breman’s colleague Rosey Pool during a trip to Ghana.
The collection also contains a rare photograph of Fenton Johnson that Breman took from Johnson’s Visions of the Dusk for use on the cover of The Daily Grind pamphlet. All of these photographs have been arranged alphabetically by the name of the author or primary person appearing therein.