Historic Karamu House donates treasured archives to Case Western Reserve University’s Kelvin Smith Library

The Karamu House guest book alone is extraordinary, with such signatories as Martin Luther King Jr., Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, musicians from Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and visitors from across the globe.

The theatre’s historic register—photographs, drawings, programs, posters and the collected letters of Karamu alumnus and playwright Langston Hughes—will soon have a new, permanent home. 

Karamu House, the nation’s oldest African American producing theatre and cultural arts center, is donating its archives to Case Western Reserve University. The special collection will be preserved at the Kelvin Smith Library, where the public will be able to access it for research, education and pure enjoyment. 

“Karamu House has long been an incubator for Black actors, but more importantly a touchstone in the Black community,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Ben Vinson III. “This partnership represents, not only, an incredible opportunity for Case Western Reserve University but for the entire Cleveland community. We are thrilled to share these treasured archives with the world and bring to light the incredible history of the nation’s oldest African American producing theater organization.”

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