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Documenting the Black Experience at the University of Dayton

Finding Aids

A finding aid is a guide to an archival collection. It helps researchers find primary and secondary sources relevant to their research. Each finding aid provides historical or biographical context and explains how it is organized and its inclusive contents. Finding aids for the collections at the University of Dayton Libraries special collections can be found on the University Libraries website

Faculty Collections

The Herbert Woodward Martin papers provides a window into the life and career of poet and Paul Laurence Dunbar expert Herbert Woodward Martin. This collection is mostly comprised of material related to his writing and performing career, spanning from the 1970s through the present day. Though there is some material related to his private life and teaching career, the bulk of the material documents his poetry, with several drafts of various anthologies and poems. There are also programs and newspaper articles documenting his performing career, with readings of both his own poetry and Paul Laurence Dunbar's. The collection also includes correspondence, journals that have published Martin's work, posters, audio and video recordings on VHS, cassette tapes, CDS, and nine 7-inch reels of magnetic tape.

For over 25 years, Martin served as a professor and poet-in-residence at the University of Dayton. While there he taught classes on poetry writing and African-American literature. He would routinely appear at university events and read his poetry. 

Documentary film of Herbert Martin's life and work by David Schock

"He is not only a scholar and an outstanding poet in his own right, but he has gone over and above that as a performance artist," said Schock, who was a college student when he first heard Martin perform in 1972. "He also has such humility and joy and really loves people."

Jump Back, Honey tells of Martin's boyhood days in Birmingham, Ala., where he learned the art of storytelling sitting with his family around the heater in the middle room. It tells of his education in Toledo and his early years as a performer in New York City where he shared stages with Bob Dylan, Calvin Hernton, Allen Ginsberg and many others who went on to fame.

The film covers highlights of Martin's own distinguished career. Twice a finalist for The National Series poetry contest, Martin won many awards, including the Mellen Poetry Contest in 1999 for The Log of the Vigilante, a journal of slave captivity. His other published works include poetry, drama, opera libretti and literary criticism. His writings have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals. His seven published collections of poetry include Galileo's Suns, The Forms of Silence and The Persistence of the Flesh.

Sprinkled with performances of both Dunbar's poetry and his own, the film chronicles Martin's journey of first avoiding Dunbar (he was teased as a child for his uncanny resemblance to the famous poet), then forgetting about him ("There were no black writers in the high school textbooks at all," he remembers) to finally forging a bond that crossed a century.


Black Action Through Unity (BATU)

The primary mission of BATU is to serve as a Black Student Union and a representative voice for all Black students at the University of Dayton. On Tuesday, February 11th, 1969, BATU drafted a list of demands with 60 to 65 black students present. These demands included the following: 1. Including a Black studies Institute as an interdisciplinary department of the University with Black personnel comprising the majority of this department's faculty. 2. Increase Black student population to 1,000 by September 1971 by means of Black recruiters and a new University catalogue, both of which are subject to approval by Black Action Through Unity. 3. A nationwide educational program will be established for 50 high-risk Black students per year for the next five years and a general increase in the number of scholarships afforded to Black students. 4. The Graduate Studies Department will make every effort to increase the number of Black graduate students in the University. 5. UD's work-study program shall finance community activities in the Dayton Black community committed by Black Students extending the University influence to the city. 6. Construct and fund an Afro-American Cultural Committee responsible for presenting at least four programs a year to the UD community. 7. A central location consisting of an office and a cultural center be established within the confines of the main campus of the UD. 8. UD shall make every effort to insure open housing for Black students and shall take appropriate legal action in those cases where discrimination can be proved.yton. BATU seeks to positively impact the Dayton community through service, leadership, activism, and unity among members."  Source: Gabriel Gaiusbayode, Timeline: UD Black History milestones on the Black History Month research guide. 2019

University Records

Center for Afro-American Affairs:  includes annual reports, programming, and correspondence

Multiethnic Education and Engagement Center  


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