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Joseph E. Harris papers

Identifier: 032

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Scope and Contents

The Joseph E. Harris papers contain materials from all periods of Dr. Harris' career. They reflect the full scope of his participation in the work of the universities at which he taught, and the organizations and conferences in which he participated. Materials related to Dr. Harris' personal and family life are present only incidentally.

The Joseph E. Harris papers are arranged into thirteen series:

  • Biography. Autobiographical sketches, personal photographs, passports, curricula vitae, interviews, and similar materials. Because this series was originally located elsewhere in this list, the box and folder numbers assigned to these materials are out of sequence
  • Universities at which Harris taught. This series includes writings by Harris dealing with the business of each university. Important information found throughout this series involves consideration of the place of African and African American studies in the university curriculum. The materials for Howard University contain substantial information on relations with other African universities, with a concentration on schools in South Africa
  • Organizations and projects in which Harris participated. There are two sub-series: those organizations and projects for which there is a substantial amount of material, and those for which the available materials fit into a single folder. This series includes writings by Harris (such as proposals) related to particular organizations and projects
  • Conferences and events. Three major conferences organized by Harris are described first, followed by a chronological listing of other conferences and events. Papers presented at conferences (by Harris, and others), and associated materials such as photographs and recordings, are listed with each conference
  • Writings. Harris' published writings, as well as presentations and other writings that achieved at least the state of a typescript. This series includes materials related to Harris' books (drafts, materials collected, etc.), and briefer writings that are not directly related to a particular university, organization or event.
  • Manuscripts. Manuscript materials (including diaries and appointment books) that could not easily be associated with items in the Writings series. Because of their nature or the context in which they were discovered, this series includes some manuscript materials not by Harris
  • Italo-Ethiopian Crisis; Ethiopia. A significant body of materials related to the activities of the Ethiopian Research Council and similar organizations active in the 1930s. (The Ethiopian Research Council reappeared in the 1990s.) An important portion of this series is a large body of original correspondence; but the series also includes copies of archival documents, and publications. Most of these materials were collected during research for Harris' book African-American reactions to war in Ethiopia, 1936-1941
  • General correspondence. Correspondence not included in any other series
  • Other topics. Other areas of interest to Harris, and categories of material that did not fit into any other series
  • Writings by others. These are chiefly in not-yet-published form, including some papers presented at conferences that Harris did not attend
  • Audio-visual materials. Recordings, photographs, computer disks, and other non-paper materials that could not be included in any other series
  • Research materials. Photocopies, offprints, printouts of web pages, and newspaper clippings
  • Restricted materials. Materials that are not at present available for consultation; chiefly graded student papers and information related to job applications. Additional restricted materials connected to particular organizations are listed with the corresponding organization, but are likewise not at present available for consultation
  • Dates

    • 1929 - 2016


    Conditions Governing Access

    Except for materials marked as restricted, the Joseph E. Harris papers are available for consultation. Audio-visual materials (such as tape recordings, computer disks, and video recordings) must be transferred to a digital format before they can be consulted; this digitization is only performed as needed, and can involve a significant delay in availability. To inquire about access to this collection, please contact the Herskovits Library at


    255 Boxes

    Language of Materials



    Joseph Earl Harris (born July 2, 1929, North Carolina), an eminent scholar of the history of Africa and the African diaspora. A pioneer in the study of the African diaspora to Asia, he championed the recognition of the African diaspora as a global phenomenon. The Joseph E. Harris papers contain materials from all periods of Dr. Harris' career. They reflect the full scope of his participation in the work of the universities at which he taught, and the organizations and conferences in which he participated.


    Organizations, topics and writings are arranged alphabetically; conferences and correspondence are arranged chronologically. Audio-visual materials not associated with any event or topic are arranged by format.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Acquired in several installments (2011-2017) as a gift of Joseph E. Harris through University Archives (accessions #13-43, #14-230) and transferred to the Herskovits Library.

    Guide to the Joseph E. Harris papers
    Gary L. Strawn
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Language of description note

    Library Details

    Part of the Melville J. Herskovits Library of African Studies Repository

    Main Library, 5th Floor, East Tower
    1970 Campus Drive
    Evanston IL 60208-2300 US