Supplementary Material


Like the reading journals themselves, these supplementary materials are also a part of the Alice Dunbar-Nelson Papers (MSS 113). The “Reviews” page includes a sample of her literary correspondence along with some of her long-form book reviews. The letter dated February 3, 1929 is from Jewish-American author Vera Caspary. In this letter, Caspary expresses gratitude for Dunbar-Nelson’s measured and thoughtful review of her second published novel, The White Girl (1929). The letter was written during a period when Caspary (much like Dunbar-Nelson herself) had been struggling to both find her voice as a writer and make a career of it. She praises Dunbar-Nelson’s ability to draw out the intended meaning of the novel with an accuracy that she feared would be lost on her readers. Also included are two drafts of Dunbar-Nelson’s unpublished column writing. As noted in her diary entries, Dunbar-Nelson attempted to get the K-A-D-N column published at the close of the 1920s, but ultimately failed to do so after repeated submissions. It is interesting to point out here that the growing popularity of the radio format appears to have influenced the format and style of this column. Its affectation assumes the form of radio broadcast transcripts; and by that measure, judging from these documents alone, one could easily surmise that these items were meant for this relatively nascent technology rather than the typical newspaper column. The failure to get this column published contributed to a demoralization in Dunbar-Nelson’s attitude toward continuing to pursue a career as a professional writer. The rest of the supplementary material consists of three photographs of Dunbar-Nelson taken roughly around the time when she would have been keeping each of her three reading journals. At least one of these photos, the second of the three, was taken at the Scurlock Studio, presumably by the celebrated African American photographer, Addison Scurlock (1883-1964).

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