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Harlem Renaissance

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Street Life, Harlem, ca. 1939-1940
William H. Johnson (1901-1970)
oil on wood
116.2 x 36.1 cm (45 3/4 x 38 5/8 in.)
Gift of the Harmon Foundation
Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Smithsonian

Information or research assistance regarding the Harlem Renaissance is frequently requested from the Smithsonian Institution. The following information has been prepared to assist those interested in this topic.


Cullen, Countee. Color. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1925.

The poet's first book of poems, characterized by a romantic spirit, and indicating a concern for black heritage.

_____. Copper Sun. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1927.

Concentrates on the themes of love, death, and the American racial situation.

Davis, Arthur P. From the Dark Tower: Afro-American Writers 1900 to 1960. Washington, D.C.: Howard University Press, 1974.

The first 135 pages are devoted to the New Negro Renaissance. Presents background and social history from 1900. Works by DuBois, J. W. Johnson, McKay, Toomer, Locke, Hughes, and Fauset.

Dover, Cedric. America Negro Art. New York: New York Graphic Society, 1960.

A study of the accomplishments of the black American visual artist from slavery to the 1960s.

DuBois, W.E.B. Dark Princess: A Romance. New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1928.

Mathew Towns, a black American, becomes involved in the movement to unify the dark people of the world.

Fauset, Jessie E. Chinaberry Tree. New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1931.

Romance among middle-class blacks of New Jersey during the 1920s.

Fisher, Rudolph F. The Walls of Jerico. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1928. Reprinted, New York: Arno Press, 1969.

Romance in the lower-class and social conflict among upper-class blacks are examined.

Huggins, Nathan Irwin. Harlem Renaissance. New York: Oxford University, 1971.

Reviews the 1920s through the eyes of those who participated in the Renaissance movement. Discusses art, the theatre, and literature.

Hughes, Langston. Not Without Laughter. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930.

Sandy, a black youth living in the Midwest, learns what is important in life for self-improvement and fulfillment.

_____. The Weary Blues. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926.

The first collection of the poet's work, featuring, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "Mother and Son."

Hughes, Langston, and Milton Meltzer. Black Magic: A Pictorial History of Black Entertainers in America. New York: Bonanza Books, 1967.

A survey in pictures and text of the contributions of black entertainers to America history. Emphasizes many figures of the 1920s, including Bert Williams, Eubie Blake, Marian Anderson, Rose McClendon, Paul Robeson, and Hall Johnson.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Jonah's Gourd Vine. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1934. Reprinted New York: HarperCollins, 1990.

John Buddy Pearson, son of a white tenant farmer and black woman, makes his way in the world and becomes embroiled in too many illicit love affairs.

Johnson, James Weldon. God's Trombones: Seven Negro Sermons in Verse. New York: Viking Press, 1927.

Through the spirit and speaking style of the"old-time black preacher," Johnson presents seven folk sermons in moving poetry. Among them are, "The Creation" and, "Go Down Death."

Larsen, Nella K. Quicksand. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1929. Reprinted, New York: MacMillan, 1971.

A "tragic mulatto" story about Helga Crane, who searches for happiness in Harlem and Denmark.

Leuders, Edward. Carl Van Vechten and the Twenties. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1955.

A look at Carl Van Vechten's role in the Harlem Renaissance movement and his relationship to the many artists.

Lewis, David Levering. When Harlem Was In Vogue. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1981.

A narrative about many aspects of the Harlem Renaissance: the people, relationships, publications, music, racial problems, and a discussion of the works created.

Locke, Alain, ed. The New Negro. New York: Albert and Charles Boni, Inc., 1925. Reprinted, New York: Atheneum, 1975.

An anthology of black American essays, literature, and art published in the 1920s. Represented are works by Albert Barnes, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Countee Cullen, James Weldon Johnson, and Aaron Douglas. Photographs of African sculpture are also included.

McKay, Claude. Harlem. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1922.

McKay's first book of poetry, published in the United States.

_____. Home to Harlem. New York: Harper, 1928.

Novel about Jake, home from World War I, who searches for an unknown woman to whom he is attracted on his first night home.

Schoener, Allon, ed. Harlem on My Mind: Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900-1968. New York: Random House, 1968.

A history of black Harlem is presented through countless photographs and newspaper articles.

Thurman, Wallace P. The Blacker the Berry. New York: The MaCaulay Co., 1929.

Dark-skinned Emma Lou suffers rejection by her family, and later sexual exploitation by her boyfriend because of her sensitivity about her own color.

Toomer, Jean. Cane. New York: Boni Liveright, 1923.

Stories and poems woven together by the common elements of the search for self and the Negro soul.

Walron, Eric. Tropic Death. New York: Boni and Liveright, 1926.

Eric Walron's forceful account of present life in the West Indies.


Prepared by the Anacostia Community Museum, Office of Education
in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services,
Smithsonian Institution


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