Room 26 Cabinet of Curiosities

Richard Bruce Nugent Papers

The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection at the Beinecke Library is pleased to announce that the Richard Bruce Nugent Papers are now available for research. A detailed list of materials in the archive can be found here: Richard Bruce Nugent Papers (JWJ MSS 92).

Writer and artist Richard Bruce Nugent (1906-1987) was a member of the Harlem Renaissance arts community that included such luminaries as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Alain Locke, and Wallace Thurman. Nugent’s work appeared in little magazines, including Fire!!, Opportunity and Palms; he also appeared on Broadway in Porgy (1927) and Run, Little Chillun (1933). Nugent’s short story “Smoke, Lilies, and Jade,” which appeared in Fire!! in 1926, ranks him among the first African American writers to openly consider homosexuality in his work.

The Richard Bruce Nugent Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal and financial papers, subject files, photographs, printed materials, and audiovisual materials. Bruce Nugent’s correspondence consists of family, professional, and personal correspondence, including letters from homosexual love interests. Writings include poetry, short non-fiction pieces, and various fiction pieces, including the novel Gentleman Jigger. Writings by others include drafts and papers relating to Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance by Thomas H. Wirth. Photographs consist of portraits and snapshots of Nugent, his love interests, friends, and family. The bulk of the audiovisual materials consist of interviews with Nugent. Printed materials include books inscribed to Nugent as well as various clippings and ephemera.

Images: Opportunity: Journal of Negro Life, featuring cover drawing by Richard Bruce Nugent (Vol. 4, No. 39, 1926); Richard Bruce Nugent photographed by Carl Van Vechten, February 16, 1936 (Photographs by Carl Van Vechten are used with permission of the Van Vechten Trust; permission of the Trust is required to publish Van Vechten photographs in any format).

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