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Langston Hughes photograph with women journalists-addition 1

Identifier: MSS 8870


  • Creation: C. 1952

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Langston Hughes (1902?-1967) was an American writer who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance and made the African American experience the subject of his writings, which ranged from poetry and plays to novels and newspaper columns.

Hughes documented African American literature and culture in works such as A Pictorial History of the Negro in America (1956) and the anthologies The Poetry of the Negro (1949) and The Book of Negro Folklore (1958; with Bontemps). He continued to write numerous works for the stage, including the lyrics for Street Scene, an opera with music by Kurt Weill that premiered in 1947. Black Nativity (1961; film 2013) is a gospel play that uses Hughes’s poetry, along with gospel standards and scriptural passages, to retell the story of the birth of Jesus. It was an international success, and performances of the work—often diverging substantially from the original—became a Christmas tradition in many Black churches and cultural centres. He also wrote poetry until his death; The Panther and the Lash, published posthumously in 1967, reflected and engaged with the Black Power movement and, specifically, the Black Panther Party, which was founded the previous year.

Among his other writings, Hughes translated the poetry of Federico García Lorca and Gabriela Mistral. He was also widely known for his comic character Jesse B. Semple, familiarly called Simple, who appeared in Hughes’s columns in the Chicago Defender and the New York Post and later in book form and on the stage. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel, appeared in 1994. Some of his political exchanges were collected as Letters from Langston: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Red Scare and Beyond (2016).

Source: "Langston Hughes" Britannica. Accessed 4/4/24.


.03 Cubic Feet (1 letter folder)

Language of Materials


Metadata Rights Declarations

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was a gift from Regina Rush to the Small Special Collections Library at the University of Virginia Library on 21 February 2024.

Related Materials

Related to MSS 16783 and other accretions of 8870.

Langston Hughes photograph with women journalists
Ellen Welch
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library Repository

Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library
P.O. Box 400110
University of Virginia
Charlottesville Virginia 22904-4110 United States