Journal III


The third and final journal in the series continues precisely from where the second journal had ended. Beginning in the spring of 1931 and spanning slightly less than two years in range, it is the shortest journal of the three. Extensive reading in Washington, D.C. occurred during a brief period that lasted from the end of May through first two weeks in June. Her contemporaneous diary accounts from that time indicate that this concentrated period of intense study had stemmed from a short-lived professional alliance with Carter G. Woodson. Woodson urged Dunbar-Nelson to contribute to some of his publishing projects, some of which involved developing a new curriculum for the study of African American history and culture. She read 128 books that year—the highest count for the number of books she read in a single year—reading most during her research visit to the nation’s capital. She kept up with her entries during a short vacation to Bermuda that she took at the end of October in 1931. The journal continues through the close of the following year. The couple had to relocate to Philadelphia that year because of Robert Nelson’s appointment to the state’s Athletic Commission. It was also a time when Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s health troubles, her high blood pressure mostly, began to catch up with her. However, on paper, 1932 appears to have been a relatively pleasant year for her as a reader. The volume of reading returns from its high during the previous year back down to just above average; furthermore, she returns to spending more time pleasure reading than reading for either work or self-education. Mystery and crime fiction have a sizeable presence alongside literary fiction, but the amount of African American literature is drastically reduced.

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