Item #8828 [Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]. Lorenzo Dow Turner, Arthur P. Bedou.
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]
[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]

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[Early printed and photographic material of Lorenzo Dow Turner.]

Washington, D.C., 1914, ca. 1920, 1928. See below for archive contents.

A collection of materials relating to pioneering Black linguist, professor, and publisher Lorenzo Dow Turner, including several very scarce early issues of his short-lived newspaper; ephemera promoting the newspaper; the first yearbook of Howard University (his alma mater), inscribed to his mother; and a fine studio photograph of Turner as a young man, taken by noted Black photographer Arthur P. Bedou. These items evidently all once belonged to Turner’s mother.

Lorenzo Dow Turner (1890–1972) was born in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the youngest son of Elizabeth Freeman and Rooks Turner. He graduated from Howard University in 1914, afterwards obtaining a Master’s Degree and PhD from Harvard and the University of Chicago, respectively, and becoming head of the English Department at Howard. In 1928, university politics led him to leave the position, and, with his brother Arthur as the business manager, he established The Washington Sun. “Fearless, Aggressive, [and] Independent” (according to its byline), the paper was intended to “stimulate a wider and keener local interest in education, religion, and business…and…promote the civic welfare of the community” (Wade-Lewis, p. 55). The first issue appeared on September 6th, 1928, but the paper lasted only through January of 1929. The following summer, Turner accepted a temporary position at South Carolina State College at Orangeburg (now South Carolina State University), where he heard Gullah spoken for the first time by two of his students. After visiting their families on John’s Island, Turner became convinced that Gullah was not, as scholars had previously supposed, merely “bad English” derived from the “baby talk” spoken by white masters to new slaves. In the fall of 1929 he accepted a position at Fisk University, where he would teach for the next sixteen years, found the first African Studies program in the country, and conduct extensive research on the African linguistic diaspora in the United States, England, Brazil, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Ghana, and elsewhere along the west coast of Africa. This work informed his groundbreaking 1949 study Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, for which he is best known. From 1946 until his retirement in 1970, Turner taught at Roosevelt University in Chicago, and, in the 1960s, helped found a training program for Peace Corps volunteers to Africa, collaborated with the Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Corporation on filmstrips for classroom use, and consulted with two dictionaries as they attempted to better account for African languages and African American culture. He was elected to the Hall of Fame of Chicago in 1969, and on his death two years later he was mourned as “one of America’s truly great linguistic scholars” (Chicago Daily Defender, February 10, 1972).

ARCHIVE CONTENTS

The Washington Sun. Washington, D.C., No. 1, September 8, 1928; No. 8, October 27, 1928; No. 11, November 17, 1928; No. 16, December 22, 1928. 21.5” x 17.75”, 8 pp. CONDITION: Very good to good+, slight chipping and a few minor tears to margins, moderate chipping to central horizontal folds, with slight losses to text in the Nov. 17 edition.

Published shortly after Turner was pushed out of his professorship at Howard University, and less than a year before he embarked on the landmark study that would establish the field of Gullah studies, The Washington Sun aimed “To Serve All The People All The Time,” according to its motto. The Turner brothers garnered some early and important subscribers, including many of Lorenzo’s former colleagues at Howard, and the “quality of the reporting was first-rate,” with “News underscoring triumphs in the progress of African Americans grac[ing] the front page, along with details of defeats and tragedies. The coverage was local, national, and international. The multifold message to the black population, like that of other black newspapers, was: be a model American citizen, be proud of black accomplishments, be aware of the virulence of racism, work vigorously to advance both individual and group progress, and be politically active in order to foster change” (Wade-Lewis, p. 56). Topics covered in the four editions offered here include court cases and crimes (including a particularly brutal murder of a mother by her son), biographical sketches (including an interview with a pastor who had been enslaved until the age of fourteen), sports (for instance, “Hampton U Upsets Va. State, 16-0”), society and church news, the arts (including a piece on an honorary reception for Harlem Renaissance painter Laura Wheeling Waring), race relations (“Of unusual significance” being the National Interracial Conference, which took place in Washington D.C. in December of 1928), Black political success (“Five Negroes Will Go to the State Legislature in Illinois”), and more. Ads for beauty products, cafes, signmakers, cleaners, funeral services, shoe repair, upcoming plays and musicals, and so on appear throughout.

OCLC records just one issue of The Washington Sun, at Emory University. Other issues are held in the Lorenzo Dow Turner papers at Northwestern University.

Promotional materials for The Washington Sun. [Washington, D.C., ca. 1928).

Paperboard window placard (10.75” x 13.875”). CONDITION: Very good, somewhat rubbed, 2.5” crease at lower left corner. Bearing the announcement: “Sold Here : The Washing Sun” and characterizing it as “A Unique Newspaper” with “Strong Editorials,” “Clean Rand Reliable News,” and “Exceptional Features.”

[With]

Paperboard promotional card (3.25” x 5.875”). CONDITION: Very good. Leading with the question “Do You Read The Washington Sun?” and characterizing the publication again as “Unique” with “Strong Editorials” etc., this card emphasizes it as “an excellent advertising medium.”

[With]

Circular with advertising rates (5.875” x 3.5”), 2 pp. on heavy stock. CONDITION: Very good, light spotting to recto and light rubbing to verso. Noting rates for “General Advertising” (between five and ten cents per line) as well as “Mysticism, Hypnotism, Fortune Telling” (twenty-five cents per line); “Mechanical” and “Line” requirements for ads, information on “Commission and Discount” as well as “Subscription Rates.”

[With]

Circular with “Display Advertising Rates” (9” x 4”), 2 pp. on green paper. CONDITION: Very good. Below the rates, advertising terms are listed on the recto (“Bills not paid within 30 days of date subject to 6 per cent interest per annum”; “Cancellation of orders by telephone not effective unless confirmed in writing same day” etc.). The verso, characterizing the paper as “Tolerant,” “Clean—Progressive,” is a (blank) advertising contract, “In Effect November 1, 1928.”

Arthur P. Bedou, photog. Portrait photograph of Turner. [Washington, D.C.? ca. 1920.] Silverprint, 7” x 5”, mounted in original paperboard folder. CONDITION: Very good, excellent tonality.

Arthur P. Bedou (1882–1966) worked for many years as personal photographer to Booker T. Washington, and documented life at several Black institutions, including Fisk University and the National Negro Business League, before opening his own studio in New Orleans in the 1920s.

Nikh [Howard University Yearbook]. Volume 1. Washington, D.C., 1914. 4to (12” x 9”), original printed brown paperboard, 103 pp., 10 pp. ads. Inscribed on ffep: “To Mother—from Lorenzo.” CONDITION: Very good, cover with wear to extremities and some hand sewn repairs to spine; partial photo excised on p. 90.

A few checkmarks in pencil draw attention to Turner’s presence in the superlatives section as having “done the most for Howard” and being “the most handsome,” though also being “the most hen-pecked.”

A scarce array of materials from the early life and career of a pathbreaking and influential Black scholar.

REFERENCES: Amos, Alcione M. “Connecting Communities through Language: Life and Work of Lorenzo Dow Turner,” in Bérose - Encyclopédie internationale des histoires de l’anthropologie online; Wade-Lewis, Margaret. Lorenzo Dow Turner: Father of Gullah Studies (University of South Carolina Press, 2007).

Item #8828

Price: $3,750.00

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