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At a Glance
The collection documents Baker's career from her arrival in Paris in 1925 as a show girl in the Revue Negre; her selection to star in a revised version of the Revue and resultant success; her stardom as a headliner at the Folies-Bergere and other Paris venues and as a recording artist and cinema star; her unsuccessful attempt to re-insert herself into the racist American market in 1936; her service during World War II; her post-war attempts to create a "Rainbow Tribe" of adopted children; and her death in 1975.
It contains photographs, contemporary magazines, postcards, theater programs, sheet music, advertising materials, and books along with a small selection of phonograph records, tableware from her château, Les Milandes, and a jug made by Gus Bakker for her as part of an income producing venture.
As noted by Blackwell's staff: "The collection corrects many misconceptions about Baker's career, in particular the circumstances surrounding the Revue Negre which launched her stardom. it also documents the prevailing racist atmosphere of the time, of which Baker became a victim. Of special interest are such items as Felicien Champsaur's 1929 novel "Nora, Le Guenon Devenue Femme (Nora, The Monkey That Became a Woman)" which implies Baker was born a primate but acquired human characteristics from transplanted organs."
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is located on-site.
Conditions Governing Use
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Josephine Baker collection; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Processed by Jennifer B. Lee in 2021
The collection came with 34 volumes of printed books that will be cataloged individually with the note "Josephine Baker Collection (Columbia University Libraries)".