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Collection Inventory

Series I. Family History and Correspondence, 1885-1991

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects correspondence and biographical information about Wendell Wray’s family. Some materials were in the family for years while other information represents Wray’s efforts to research and compile biographical details about his parents, Mary L. Quarles Wray and Arthur J. Wray. Mary L. Quarles Wray was the daughter of the Reverend Robinson Crusoe Quarles and Mary Quarles. She was a prolific correspondent. Her husband, Arthur J. Wray, was a 1911 graduate of the Tuskegee Institute, and subsequently, Duquesne Light’s first black engineer. More family information can be found in Series XIII.

Box 1 Family History and Correspondence

Series II. Education, 1939-1995

Scope and Content Notes:

This series compiles information related to Wray’s academic career. It begins with his South Hills High School days, extends through his undergraduate career at Bates College and his MLIS at Carnegie Tech, and includes further educational ventures like his time studying at Mexico City College. The series culminates with documentation surrounding the donation of Wray’s extensive book collection to Chatham College. As Bates College and the University of Pittsburgh owned many of the books in his collection, this was a carefully considered decision to maximize his contribution to education. This series includes clippings, yearbooks, student papers, diplomas, commencement materials, transcriptions of speeches and bibliographical information concerning Wray’s book collection.

Box 1 Family History, Correspondence, and Education

Series III. Diaries, Journals, and Planners, 1946-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects Wray's earliest diaries, written in high school as well has his later planners, travel journals and address books. Significant clippings and ephemera are tucked between pages in the diary.

Box 2 Diaries, Journals, and Planners

Series IV. Personal Correspondence, 1939-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects Wendell Wray's voluminous amount of personal correspondence. Wray devoted a great deal of time and energy to keeping in touch with friends and family, and many of his primary correspondents straddle decades. In addition to letters received by Wray, this series includes a number of letters written by Wray to his mother, documenting his activities, ambitions and ideas. Also characteristic of Wray’s habits around correspondence was his tendency to create written notes that would advise the content of his final letters. This was especially true in the last decade of his life. This series includes letters, postcards and drafts.

Box 3-4 Personal Correspondence

Series V. African-American Bibliography and Resources, 1968-1992

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects Wray's work on the subject of African-American bibliography. Wray taught a class called African American Bibliography and Resources at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Library and Information Science. While his class materials are included in this series, his interest in culling and evaluating an African-American bibliography was very deep, and goes beyond this particular class. A proud bibliophile, Wray’s passion for books is manifested throughout his career, and traces of this love can be found throughout the collection. This series includes publications, brochures, book reviews and course materials.

Box 5 African-American Bibliography and Resources

Series VI. Oral History, 1965-1987

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects materials related to Wray's work in the field of oral history and tradition. Even before Alex Haley paid for Wray to attend a 1973 class at Columbia University, his interest in the spoken word was firmly established. Book talks given throughout his academic and professional career were one manifestation of his love for orality. The Columbia class catalyzed his interests, and before leaving New York City, he founded an Oral History Department at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Later, at the University of Pittsburgh, Wray researched and implemented a comprehensive course known as Oral History and Tradition. He also served in a number of advisory and freelance roles in oral history. This series includes transcripts, correspondence around consulting work, course materials, speeches, annotated articles, and a file on recording equipment. Oral history recordings can be found on a variety of formats in Series XIII Sound Recordings.

Box 5-6 Oral History

Series VII. Public Library Work, 1952-1973

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects materials relating to Wray's work at the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh and the New York Public Library System. Wray began working for the Carnegie Public Library right out of graduate school, and he continued there until he was hired by the New York Public Library in 1959. Wray was initially an Adult Group Specialist, overseeing activities oriented for adult audiences. His success in this role led him to temporarily assume the curatorial role at the Schomburg Center for Black Research while the official Chief was on leave. Following upon this success, Wray headed the North Manhattan Project, an outreach program targeted towards disadvantaged communities, based at Harlem's Countee Cullen Library. Included in this series are publications, correspondence, brochures, memorandums, notes for presentations and the North Manhattan Project Pictorial Report.

Box 7 Public Library Work

Series VIII. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 1964-1990

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects materials relating to Wray's work at and around the Schomburg Center. Included are materials from his temporary position as acting Chief in 1964 and 1965, as well as his time as Chief between 1981 and 1983. Wray resigned from the position amidst great controversy over his decision to hire a white archivist, and documentation of this incident exists from all sides. There are also documents relating to the Oral History Department which he established in 1973. Included in the series is correspondence, publications, articles, publicity, memorandums and notes for an unfinished book.

Access Restrictions:

Files in Series VIII concerning candidates and their qualifications for the archival job at the Schomburg Center are also restricted. A signed confidentiality agreement is required for access.

Box 8 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Series IX. University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Science, 1972-1994

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects professional correspondence generated while serving as a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Information Science (SIS). It begins in 1972 while the job was still theoretical, and continues throughout his career at SIS. Following his retirement in 1988, Wray obtained Professor Emeritus status and continued to teach at SIS until his relocation to Oakland, California, in 1995.

Box 9 University of Pittsburgh, School of Information Science

Series X. Other Activities, 1971-1993

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects Wray's varied activities outside of, or in addition to, his primary work. His commitment to his own professional development can be seen in his work with the Black Caucus, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Black History Advisory Group and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, amongst others. Wray also wrote book reviews and made speeches. This series collects correspondence, drafts, reviews, notes for speeches and many versions of Wray's evolving curriculum vitae.

Box 10 Other Activities

Series XI. Publications, 1942-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

This series includes materials which Wray retained following the donation of his personal library to Chatham College (Pittsburgh, Pa.), as well as books acquired following his relocation to California. There is a wealth of books and publications devoted to oral history and black librarianship. Many of these contain Wray’s annotations and notes. Others contain inscriptions from friends and colleagues. Several books, including Early Black Bibliographies, 1863-1918, The Black Librarian in America Revisited, and the Handbook of Black Librarianship feature sections written by Wray.

Box 11-12 Publications

Series XII. Photographs, Slides, and Negatives, 1940-2003

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects photographs of Wray, his family and friends, and his professional colleagues. It also includes a considerable number of negatives, many from his work with the North Manhattan Project. The series also contains a variety of personal and professional slides.

Box 13-14 Photographs, Slides, and Negatives

Series XIII. Sound Recordings, 1964-1997

Scope and Content Notes:

This series collects sound recordings across a number of formats. Wray conducted family oral histories with his mother and many more in a professional capacity. Recordings of North Manhattan project events are included. Formats included in this series are reel to reel, cassettes and micro-cassette.

Box 15 Sound Recordings

Series XIV. Scrapbooks, Photos, and Family Memorabilia, 1911-1991

Scope and Content Notes:

This series includes a number of scrapbooks, diaries, photographs and assorted materials relating to Wray’s family. A 1911 Tuskegee Institute diploma earned by Arthur J. Wray has been removed from this series and is stored separately.

Box 16 Scrapbooks, Photos, and Family Memorabilia