Karamu House archives is now available online!

Karamu House dancer

In 2021, Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library acquired the archive from Karamu House, the oldest African-American producing theater in the United States known for nurturing the careers of Ruby Dee, Robert Guillaume and Langston Hughes.

The archive consists of records of the administration, governance, educational services and creative output of this unique cultural hub, including 100 years of theatre, dance and music productions. All of the records are now searchable through this online guide.

“The collection was lovingly curated by Karamu House staff and volunteers for many years before it came to the Kelvin Smith Library,” said Eleanor Blackman, senior archivist for Special Collections. “Our work included housing the materials in archival quality boxes and folders, arranging the records to reflect the work of their creators and creating an online guide to the collection in ArchivesSpace, our collection management platform.”

Users can navigate the collection using keyword searches including names, dates, activities and performances. Users may also search by format, whether that be Board of Trustees minutes, photographs, posters, marketing materials or other types of items.

In addition to searching the finding aid online through ArchivesSpace, users are encouraged to create an account in Aeon, our requesting and scheduling portal through which appointments can be made to use materials from the archive.

Questions? Please contact the KSL reference desk at kslspecialcollections@case.edu, or 216.368.0189. The Karamu House materials can be used in the Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections Hatch Reading Room, located on the second floor of the library. Reading room hours are 10 a.m. to noon and 1–4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.