African American poets
African American theater - Louisiana - New Orleans
Black Arts movement
Civil rights demonstrations
Civil rights movements - Southern States
Civil rights workers
Civil rights workers - Southern States - Interviews
Free Southern Theater
Mardi Gras Indians
New Orleans (La.) - Social conditions
New Orleans (La.) - Social life and customs
Race relations - Southern States
Southern Black Cultural Alliance
Theater - Louisiana - New Orleans
Young, Andrew, 1932-
The papers of Tom Dent provide a rich documentary source in the areas of African American literature and theater, the Civil Rights Movement, and the society and culture of New Orleans. The collection encompasses 149 linear feet of correspondence, literary manuscripts, oral history interviews, photographs, financial records, and memorabilia generated by one of New Orleans' most treasured poets, playwrights, and oral historians.
Dent was a prolific writer of letters, poetry, and prose throughout his lifetime. The papers span over thirty years of African American literature through his correspondence with editors, writers, and artists. The papers are a resource for the topics of the Black Arts Movement, the Free Southern Theater in New Orleans, the Umbra Writers' Workshop, and are rich in narratives about New Orleans society, culture, and the Black community. The papers are a strong source for the study of discrimination and racism in the United States, particularly in the area of the disenfranchisement of Black artists and writers.
Dent's literary works encompass approximately 331 drafts of original poems and 289 journals and notebooks, often focusing on Black identity, New Orleans, and civil rights. Dent also wrote short stories, essays, and book, film, and play reviews, which account for approximately 190 manuscripts in the collection. Other literary projects covered in the collection include the unpublished manuscript drafts of Andrew Young's autobiography, Easy Burden: the Civil Rights Movement and the Transformation of America and Dent's book Southern Journey: A Return to the Civil Rights Movement. Southern Journey documents historic African American communities and the era of civil rights in what Dent considered the "Deep South," the states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Accompanying the manuscripts are 905 audiotapes of oral history interviews used for these two volumes, as well as three grant funded oral history projects, conducted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focused on the river communities of Louisiana, civil rights workers in Mississippi, and Acadian and jazz musicians of New Orleans. The audiovisual collection also includes numerous poetry readings, lectures, and special events, such as festivals, brass bands, and funerals documenting the uniqueness of New Orleans Black community and culture.
The papers also include photographs, financial records, and collected memorabilia, which are interrelated to Dent's correspondence, literary manuscripts, and the audiovisual collection.
Series 1: Correspondence and Other Materials, 1928, 1941-1998
Series 2: Writings, 1959-1997
Series 3: Journals and Notebooks, 1959-1998
Series 4: Oral History and Audiovisual Collection, 1965-1998
Series 5: Project Files, 1966-1998
Series 6: Financial Records, 1959-1998
Series 7: Photographs, 1947-1998
Series 8: Memorabilia, News Clippings and Realia, 1861-1998