The University of Massachusetts Amherst
Robert S. Cox Special Collections & University Archives Research Center
CredoResearch digital collections in Credo

Collecting area: Black anthropology

Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive

Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive

ca. 1920-2023
Call no.: MS 1182
Depiction of Maya Angelou at James Baldwin's birthday party, 1984. Photo by Irma McClaurin.
Maya Angelou at James Baldwin's birthday party, 1984. Photo by Irma McClaurin.

The Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA) is an archival home for Black women and their allies. Founded by Dr. Irma McClaurin, Black feminist anthropologist, academic administrator, award-winning poet and author, past president of Shaw University and leader in higher education, the BFA seeks to identify Black women from all walks of life who are artists, activists, and academics but may not be well known, and document their wide array of contributions at many levels: community, state, national, and global. In addition to being an ongoing resource for academic and community researchers, the BFA also aims to be a training center, where Black archivists can actively participate in their own history and uplift and protect the endangered legacy of Black women. Articles about Dr. McClaurin and the BFA have appeared in the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, UMass Magazine and on the the Black Presence website.

The BFA is an umbrella collection, made up of a growing and diverse group of collections documenting Black women, allies, movements, and organizations. Highlights include the papers of renown anthropologists Sheila Walker and Carolyn Martin Shaw; Belizean writer Zee Edgell; activist and educator Cheryl Evans, who founded the Black Pioneers Project documenting the experience of Black students at UMass Amherst during the late 1960s; Lawrence (Larry) Paros, a UMass alum and forerunner of the Alternative Education movement in America, past director of the 1968 Yale Summer High School (YSHS); and the papers of Dr. Irma McClaurin, BFA founder, which include her photographs of iconic Black figures.

Collections include:

Shaw, Carolyn Martin, 1944-

Carolyn Martin Shaw Papers

1962-2017 Bulk: 1972-2010
10 boxes 12.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 974
Depiction of Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972
Carolyn Martin Shaw in Kenya, ca.1972

From a childhood spent in a tenement in Norfolk, Va., Carolyn Martin Shaw went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a pioneer in Black Feminist anthropology. Educated in segregated schools, she was an outstanding student, winning scholarship funding to Michigan State University, where she received both her BS (1966) and PhD (1975). Shaw’s dissertation on Kikuyu kinship morality marked several themes that she developed through subsequent research projects in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Based in the Department of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz throughout her career, she was a productive scholar, publishing dozens of articles and chapters, and two important monographs, Colonial Inscriptions: Race, Class and Sex in Kenya (1995) and Women and Power in Zimbabwe: Promises of Feminism (2015), and she filled a variety of administrative posts, including department chair, Provost of the Kresge residential college, and Chair of the UC system-wide Committee on Privilege and Tenure. She has received numerous awards in her career, including a Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Zimbabwe in 1983-1984, a Danforth Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching, and a McHenry Award for Service to the Academic Senate at UCSC. Shaw retired from UCSC in 2010.

Documenting her work in Black feminist anthropology, the Carolyn Martin Shaw collection includes published and unpublished writing, correspondence, and a wealth of information on her research in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Along with her fieldnotes, research data, and photographs, the collection also includes records of her faculty service at USCS, and awards received for teaching and university service.

Gift of Carolyn Martin Shaw, May 2017

Subjects

Anthropologists--CaliforniaEthnology--KenyaEthnology--ZimbabweFeminismUniversity of California Santa Cruz--FacultyWomen--Africa