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Series I: Correspondence, 1971-1999
Series II: Administrative and Editorial Files, 1971-2011
Series V: Printed Materials, 1968-2004
At a Glance
This collection is arranged in six series and several subseries.
Scope and Content
William Manning Marable was a leading figure in African-American studies as well as a historian, social theorist, and political activist, consistently positioning himself at the cutting edge of the struggle for racial equality and other progressive causes. The records in this collection document Marable's academic, political, and scholarly work.
The collection is comprehensive in its coverage. The earliest records are newspapers that document Marable's work for the Daily Express and the Earlham Post (1968-1970), high-school photographs (1967), and files related to his undergraduate and graduate studies (1970-1976). Coverage of his professional and political work exists for the full length of his career, and the records include appointment books, biographical information, budgets, clippings, correspondence, curriculum vitae, drafts, lecture notes, manuscripts, meeting materials, notebooks, photographs, proposals, reports, research notes, speeches, syllabi, and teaching materials.
Marable's academic activities included administrative work, research, teaching, writing, and involvement in conferences and other professional activities. The earliest records document Marable's undergraduate and graduate studies and include articles, book reviews, notebooks, papers, photographs, research correspondence and notes, teaching files, and Marable's dissertation, "African Nationalist: The Life of John Langalibalele Dube" (1976). The records also include professional and teaching files from Marable's academic positions, and these include appointment letters, conference planning materials, committee materials, correspondence, curriculum vitae, departmental and other institutional communications, lecture notes, meeting notes, syllabi, teaching materials, and updates regarding his professional activities. As Marable's career progressed, he took on more administrative duties, and these activities are documented through budgets, conference and program materials, correspondence, meeting materials, planning materials, proposals, and reports. The records also include documentation of his activities in the larger academic world, and include information on Marable's participation in conferences, lectures, and trips outside of his institutional duties.
Marable's scholarship is well-documented in the records. The records include contracts, correspondence, meeting notes, research notes, drafts, and final typescripts related to articles, book reviews, books, chapters, editorial work, essays, lectures, and speeches. Marable also wrote poetry, and there are some drafts and examples of his work in the collection.
Records related to the Malcolm X Project and to Marable's research for Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (2011) are in a separate collection entitled, "Malcolm X Project (MXP) Records." There are some teaching materials, as well as drafts for articles and lectures related to Malcolm X in the Manning Marable Papers.
Marable was a frequent lecturer, speaker, and commentator. The texts for many of Marable's lectures and speeches are included in this collection. These files may include drafts, revisions, and final copies, particularly if a Marable spoke on a specific topic or theme on several occasions over time. The collection also includes some business files related to his speaking activities, which were sometimes arranged through the American Program Bureau (APB).
The records also document Marable's political work, including his involvement with several political organizations including Institute of the Black World (IBW), National Black Political Assembly, National Black Independent Political Party (NBIPP), New American Movement (NAM), Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), Committees of Correspondence, and Black Radical Congress (BRC). These records include correspondence, conference and meeting materials, and membership materials. Marable also wrote the political columns "From the Grassroots" and "Along the Color Line" and the records related to these include clippings, correspondence, drafts, mailing lists, newspaper information, promotional materials and typed copies of the columns. Marable's political speeches are also included in the collection.
The records do not include personal or family materials.
The records include photographs, which are mainly professional portrait shots, or related to specific events. The collection also includes some audio and video materials related to conferences, appearances, interviews, and other commentaries or speeches made by Marable.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
The records in Box 90 are restricted until 2041. Otherwise, this collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
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); Manning Marable Papers; Box and Folder; Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Records related to the Malcolm X Project and to Marable's research for Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention (2011) are in a separate collection entitled "Malcolm X Project (MXP) Records." There are some teaching materials, as well as drafts for articles and lectures related to Malcolm X in the Manning Marable Papers.
Malcolm X Project Records, Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
No additions are expected
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed by Catherine C. Ricciardi, Maya Meredith (CC 2014), and Tiffany Poras (CC 2016), 2013-2015.
Finding aid written by Catherine C. Ricciardi July 2015.
2015-07-17 File created.
2015-07-17 XML document instance created by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2016-02-10 XML document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2016-07-01 XML document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2018-03-30 XML document instance updated by Catherine C. Ricciardi
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
William Manning Marable (May 13, 1950-April 1, 2011) was a leading theorist and historian of socioeconomic and racial inequality. Born May 13, 1950 in Dayton, Ohio, Marable was the son of educators. Active in school groups and student movements, Marable cultivated his love of history and writing early. He went on to attend Earlham College (1971), and received a master's degree (1972) and PhD (1976) in history from the University of Wisconsin and University of Maryland, respectively.
Following his studies, Marable served on the faculty of Tuskegee Institute; University of San Francisco; Cornell University; Fisk University; Colgate University, where he was the founding director of the Africana and Hispanic studies program; Purdue University; Ohio State University as chair of the Department of Black Studies; and University of Colorado, Boulder, where Marable served as co-chair of Critical Studies of the Americas.
Marable strongly believed that institution building was central to maintaining and sustaining black studies, which he understood to be an alternative to the traditional hegemonic history. In 1993, he became the Founding Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS). During his tenure (1993-2003), the Institute launched academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students centered on teaching the African American freedom struggle. As a teacher and mentor, Marable was devoted to fostering achievement and cultivating student talent—placing students in leadership roles on institutional projects.
He was equally making knowledge available to the broader community. He was the founding editor of Souls, a journal named for W.E.B. DuBois' seminal work, which became a leading journal for African American studies and black political thought. Marable also founded the Columbia Center for Contemporary Black History (2002-2011), an interdisciplinary research center designed to promote the critical study of black politics, history, and culture. Marable launched several initiatives, including the Amistad Digital Resource Project, the Malcolm X Project, and the Africana Criminal Justice Project, all of which shared a commitment to social justice, equitable access, and public education.
Although Marable was known for writing his many manuscripts freehand—filling sheets upon sheets of yellow loose leaf with his impeccable script—he was in fact a man well ahead of his time with respect to digital humanities. Early on in his tenure at Columbia University, Marable piloted what would be his first of several digital humanities projects, launching a multimedia project that reexamined Du Bois' The Souls of Black Folk.
His commitment to the idea that all knowledge should be public motivated him to write and produce a free column that examined black politics, culture, and current events for nearly thirty years. The column, "From the Grassroots" (later "Along the Color Line), was syndicated in over 320 publications across the globe.
Throughout his career, Marable acted on his belief that theory and practice were inseparable and was active in a broad array of political organizations and an advisor to many more. These included the Institute for the Black World, the Democratic Socialists of America DSA), the National Black Political Assembly (NBPA), the National Black Independent Political Party (NBIPP) and the Committees of Correspondence. In 1998, along with his wife, Leith Mullings, he was one of the co-founders of the Black Radical Congress (BRC).
Influenced by black radical thinkers from DuBois to CLR James to Walter Rodney, Marable's worked from an intellectual tradition that was anti-imperialist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist. These themes were all central to his influential How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America (1983). The third edition, with a Foreward from his wife, Leith Mullings, underscoring its relevance to the current period, was published in 2015, which recently entered its third edition—a testament to its enduring intellectual significance. His written work demonstrated a profound and unique commitment and evolution as a writer, scholar, thinker and political activist. The author of over 30 manuscripts, Marable's other work includes Race, Reform and Rebellion: The Second Reconstruction in Black America, 1945-1982 (1984); Speaking Truth to Power: Essays on Race, Resistance, and Radicalism (1996); Let Nobody Turn Us Around (with Leith Mullings, 2000); Freedom: A Photographic History of the African American Struggle (with Leith Mullings, 2002); and Living Black History: How Reimagining the African American Past Can Remake America's Racial Future (2006).
His final book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was the culmination of a nearly twenty-year investigation of Malcolm X. The acclaimed biography was awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in History and was a finalist for the National Book Award. Documentation of that work is in catalogued in the Malcolm X Project collection, found here (hyperlink). Marable suffered from sarcoidosis for many years, and underwent a double lung transplant in July 2010. He died of complications from pneumonia on April 1, 2011.