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Literary Arts and Urban Journalism Program Collection

 Collection
Identifier: 221

Scope and Contents

The collection includes material collected and created by David Aaronson, founder of the Literary Arts Program (LAP), regarding the LAP, Urban Journalism Workshop, and other programs in D.C. Public Schools that encourage student artistic expression and publication. Materials include printed material, newsletters, publications, journals, correspondence, and photographs.

Dates

  • 1969-2019, undated

Conditions Governing Access

There are no known restrictions on the use of the material.

Biographical / Historical

Created in 1970 by high school teacher David Aaronson, the Literary Arts Program allowed high school students in the District of Columbia Public Schools to explore the creative arts and gain experience and skills in the media and publishing industry through the creation of a variety of student publications and cultivation of collaborations with prominent publishers and journalists. The publication of student work is central to the program, which has taught students such as Dave Chappelle and Dianne Houston.

An early form of the program began in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 and subsequent uprising. That fall, Aaronson, then an English teacher at Francis Cardozo Senior High School as part of an alternative certification program, solicited submissions of student writing from other members of the English department. This resulted in the publication of Cardozo Raps and Just Rappin in 1969, both of which featured writings that focused on race, racism, and Black Power. In the spring and summer of 1970, Aaronson approached the Secondary School Office of the District of Columbia Public Schools to formalize this encouragement of student writing, resulting in the Literary Arts Program (LAP). The LAP began as a half-day program at a rented row home at 1310 Vermont Avenue NW in which four students from each of the eleven high schools in the district were selected to engage in creative writing, filmmaking, graphic arts, and photography in exchange for two credits in English and Art. David Aaronson acted as coordinator and fiction teacher, and Edward Diggs acted as art teacher. In addition to DC Public Schools and Secondary Office Assistant Secretaries George Rhodes and Vincent Reed, the Literary Arts program received support from the Eugene and Agnes Meyer Foundation, Hattie Strong Foundation, Emergency School Aid Act Program, and Philip Graham Foundation, among others. One of the first publications by the Literary Arts Program is DONT: A Magazine of Art and Literature.

In 1971, Llewellyn “Lew” Berry joined the Literary Arts Program as a photography instructor after working in the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) writing grants and educational brochures. After receiving a grant from the Hattie M. Strong Foundation, he began the Urban Journalism Workshop (UJW) in 1973, which aimed to teach high school juniors and seniors to combine photography and newswriting, resulting in feature news magazine 1310. The UJW operated jointly with the LAP as a half-day program at 1310 Vermont Avenue. Other staff included Brad Stein, Marlene Hoffman, Carolyn Jones Howard, Leigh H. Mosley, Reggie McGee, Juanita Cribb, and Norman Thornton, among others.

In 1975, the LAP and UJW moved to the Lemuel A. Penn Career Center, named for the assistant superintendent of DCPS and Berry’s uncle killed by members of the Ku Klux Klan in 1964. During this time, the Literary Arts program produced several yearly calendars, a children’s book series, a variety of anthologies of poems and short stories, and continued its publication of its yearly arts magazine, each of which was intended to allow students’ voices to reach a broad audience and enhance the community. Collaborations between the Urban Journalism Workshop and the Montgomery, Arlington, and Prince George’s County school districts additionally resulted in the publication of Collaboration, a news magazine. The Urban Journalism Workshop also published at least two photography books.

Perhaps most prominently, though, the Literary Arts Program began the Parent/Child Super Hero Series in 1981. The four-part comic book and its offshoots were intended to provide children with comic book characters that looked like themselves and provide an educational component through reading- and mathematics-based activities. The series was distributed to classrooms by D.C. Public Schools.

In 1986, the programs again moved to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts, where they would continue to publish anthologies of student writing. In addition, the Literary Arts and Media Program formed a collaboration with Time Inc., resulting in the publication Looking for Heroes in which members of the surrounding community and prominent officials were profiled for their activism or altruistic efforts.

Another key collaboration would come in the formation of the Partners in Journalism and the Journalism Advisers Network (sometimes the Journalism Advisors Network). In collaboration with the Multicultural Journalists Association and other leading journalists, the programs allowed high school teachers without formal training in journalism to better sustain their individual schools’ newspaper programs and allowed students to learn from industry professionals. The programs also resulted in a yearly trip to the Columbia Scholastic Press Association Conference, where program students were often the only students of color in attendance. Other journalistic endeavors included a cross-school newspaper, the Inter-High Connection, and the Health in Student Journalism initiative to encourage student journalists to write about health topics.

The Literary Arts and Media Program and Urban Journalism Workshop continue at the school as the Literary Media and Communications Program. However, this collection extends only to the end of Aaronson and Berry’s involvement in the program in the early 2000s.

Extent

11 Linear feet

Language of Materials

English

Arrangement

This collection is arranged into ten series separated by format and intended use, each with unique subseries:

Series 1: Program Records, (1973-2000, undated). This series contains correspondence, newsletters, and printed materials related to the Literary Arts Program, Urban Journalism Workshop, and offshoots and collaborations. Subseries 1: Literary Arts Program, Urban Journalism Workshop, and Literary Arts and Media Program (1973-2000, undated). This subseries contains correspondence, newsletters, proposals, and printed materials related to the main programs, the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop, and their successors. Subseries 2: Parent/Child Super Hero Series and Production (1981, 1994, undated). This subseries contains printed materials, drawings, and garments related to the original comic and the second stage production of the Parent/Child Super Hero Series. Subseries 3: Time/Odyssey Collaboration (1986-1988, undated). This subseries contains printed materials related to the collaboration between the Literary Arts Program and Time Inc./Odyssey and the Looking for Heroes publication. Subseries 4: Partners in Journalism and Journalism Advisers Network (1989-1993). This subseries contains printed materials and a scrapbook documenting the two programs. Subseries 5: Health in Student Journalism (1994). This subseries contains proposals and correspondence related to the Health in Student Journalism initiative. Subseries 6: Carl Perkins Grant (1990-2000). This subseries contains proposals, correspondence, and printed materials related to funding requests and grant applications at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Series 2: Publications (1969-1995, undated): Works published by the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop, primarily consisting of student artwork and writing. Subseries 1: Cardozo Publications (1969). This subseries contains student works published under the direction of David Aaronson before the creation of the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 2: Literary Arts Program Magazine (1973-1978, undated). This subseries contains the annual publication of the Literary Arts Program, showcasing creative writing and artwork from DC Public High School Students. Subseries 3: 1310 (1974-1980). This subseries contains the semiannual publication of the Urban Journalism Workshop. Significant gaps in holdings exist. Subseries 4: Children’s Book Project (1976-1980). This subseries contains children's books written, designed, and produced by high school students at the Lemuel A. Penn Center to involve them with younger children in D.C. schools. Only books with this expressed purpose are included in this subseries; other children’s books are in series 2, subseries 11. Subseries 5: Collaboration (1980-1981). This subseries contains the Metropolitan Area High School Students News Magazine, published by students in D.C. and Arlington, Montgomery, and Prince George’s Counties. Subseries 6: Looking for Heroes (1986-1988). This subseries contains ‘Looking for Heroes,’ the publication that is the result of a collaboration between District of Columbia Public High Schools and Time Inc./Odyssey. Subseries 7: In Tempo (1989, ca. 1994-1995). This subseries contains student writings published at Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the name ‘In Tempo.’ Subseries 8: Parent/ Child Super Hero Series (1981-1983). This subseries contains works published under or related to the Parent/Child Super Hero Series by D.C. Public Schools. Subseries 9: Brochures (1973-1974, undated). This subseries contains printed works advertising the Literary Arts Program, Lemuel A. Penn Center, and McKinley High School. Subseries 10: Calendars (1974-1985). This subseries contains calendars published by the Literary Arts Program and the Lemuel A. Penn Center. Subseries 11: Miscellaneous Publications (1971-1980, undated). This subseries contains published printed works by students that are not a part of an existing series. Series 3: Journals 1970-1972, 1995). This series contains journals written by students as part of their participation in the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 1: Student Journals (1970-1972, 1995). This subseries contains journals written by students of the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 2: Folktale Experience at Hyde Elementary (1995). This subseries contains journals written by students at Duke Ellington School of the Arts during the Folktale Experience project at Hyde Elementary School. Photographs are pasted in. Series 4: Subject Files (1971-2000, 2011-2017, undated). This series contains correspondence, printed materials, and personal writings documenting the lives of specific individuals involved with the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop. Subseries 1: David Aaronson (1992, 2019, undated). This subseries contains manuscripts produced by the founder of the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 2: Lew Berry (1971-2000, 2011-2017, undated). This subseries contains correspondence, printed materials, and manuscripts related to the founder of the Urban Journalism Workshop. Subseries 3: Marta Effinger-Crichlow (undated). This subseries contains printed materials related to the former student. Subseries 4: John H. Parmalee (undated). This subseries contains printed materials related to the former student. Series 5: Newspapers and Clippings (1969-1999). This series contains newspapers produced by the LAP and UJW as well as articles and clippings about the programs. Subseries 1: School Newspapers (1977, 1990-1999). This subseries contains newspapers produced by D.C. Public High Schools. Subseries 2: Clippings (1969-1998). This subseries contains clippings related to Literary Arts Program activities. Series 6: Prints (ca. 1970s-1999). This series contains photographic prints related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop with a variety of subjects and photographers, some of which are unknown. Subseries 1: 1310 Vermont Avenue (ca. 1974, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at 1310 Vermont Avenue, the original location of the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 2: Lemuel A. Penn Center (ca. 1972-1978). This subseries contains photographs taken at or including students of the Lemuel A. Penn Center. Subseries 3: Duke Ellington School of the Arts (ca. 1986-1999). This subseries contains photographs taken at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Subseries 4: Partners in Journalism/ Journalism Advisers Network (1989-1991, undated). This subseries contains photographs of Partners in Journalism and Journalism Advisers Network events and activities. Subseries 5: Aaronson Farm (1992, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at David Aaronson’s farm, usually during class trips. Subseries 6: People (ca. 1970s-1990s). This subseries contains photographs that primarily feature students, staff, guests, and unidentified people. Subseries 7: Projects, Visits, and Locations (ca. 1986-1999). This subseries contains photographs of activities and events related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop, including press conferences and visits to other schools. Subseries 8: Program Art (ca. 1970s, undated). This subseries contains photographs of artwork produced by students in the Literary Arts Program and photographs taken by students. Series 7: Contact Sheets (ca. 1970s-2002). This series contains contact sheets related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop with a variety of subjects and photographers, some of which are unknown. Some contact sheets relate to negatives; these relationships are noted on the individual folder. Subseries 1: Lemuel A. Penn Center (ca. 1974-1986). This subseries contains photographs taken at or including students of the Lemuel A. Penn Center. Subseries 2: Duke Ellington School of the Arts (2002, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Subseries 3: Writing is the Art (1986). This subseries contains photographs taken during the Writing is the Art event. Subseries 4: Time/Odyssey (1985-1988, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken during events related to the Time/Odyssey collaboration or for the resulting publication. Subseries 5: Aaronson Farm (undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at David Aaronson’s farm, usually during class trips. Subseries 6: Dance and Theatre (1994). This subseries contains photographs of dance and theatre performances. Subseries 7: Locations (1988, undated). This subseries contains photographs of various indoor and outdoor scenes. Subseries 8: People (1987-1992, undated). This subseries contains photographs that primarily feature students, staff, guests, and unidentified people. Subseries 9: Unidentified Photographs by Lew Berry (1998, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken by Lew Berry that do not have any other identifying information. Series 8: Slides (1983-1989, undated). This series contains slides related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop with a variety of subjects and photographers, some of which are unknown. Subseries 1: People (1986, undated). This subseries contains photographs that primarily feature students, staff, guests, and unidentified people. Subseries 2: Literary Arts Program (1983, undated). This subseries contains photographs of Literary Arts Program students and events that were originally identified as such. Subseries 3: Productions Photographed by Lew Berry (1989, undated). This subseries contains photographs of unidentified productions taken by Lew Berry. Series 9: Negatives (ca. 1970s-2002). This series contains photographic negatives related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop with a variety of subjects and photographers, some of which are unknown. Subseries 1: 1310 Vermont Avenue (1972, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at 1310 Vermont Avenue, the original location of the Literary Arts Program. Subseries 2: Lemuel A. Penn Center (ca. 1977-1980s). This subseries contains photographs taken at or including students of the Lemuel A. Penn Center. Subseries 3: Duke Ellington School of the Arts (ca. 1980s-2002, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Subseries 4: Literary Arts Program (undated). This subseries contains photographs of Literary Arts Program students and events that were originally identified as such. Subseries 5: Writing is the Art (1986). This subseries contains photographs taken during the Writing is the Art event. Subseries 6: Time/Odyssey (1985-1988, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken during events related to the Time/Odyssey collaboration or for the resulting publication. Subseries 7: Essex Hemphill (1986). This subseries contains photographs taken during a poetry workshop with and visit by Essex Hemphill, poet and former Literary Arts Program student. Subseries 8: Aaronson Farm (ca. 1977, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken at David Aaronson’s farm, usually during class trips. Subseries 9: Dance and Theatre (ca. 1980s-1990s, undated). This subseries contains photographs of dance and theatre performances. Subseries 10: Locations (1983, 1988, undated). This subseries contains photographs of various indoor and outdoor scenes. Subseries 11: People (1976-1992, undated). This subseries contains photographs that primarily feature students, staff, guests, and unidentified people. Subseries 12: Projects (1976-1999, undated). This subseries contains photographs of activities and events related to the Literary Arts Program and Urban Journalism Workshop. Subseries 13: Unidentified Photographs by Lew Berry (1998, undated). This subseries contains photographs taken by Lew Berry that do not have any other identifying information.

Series 10: DVDs (1994, undated). This series contains DVDs produced by Aaronson, including an overview of a Partners in Journalism Workshop in 1994, an unidentified conference, and pictures of students at the Lemuel A. Penn Center.

Custodial History

Gift of David Aaronson, 2020.

Processing Information

The donated materials possessed little original order beyond a rough categorization by program. As a result, materials were first separated by type (records, publications, prints, contact sheets, slides, and negatives) due to preservation needs and subsequently by program, subject, or location. Magnetic scrapbook pages, already unbound, were disassembled, and photographs were removed to a separate series. Where possible, the creator-supplied titles, particularly for photographs and negatives, were retained. When titles were not supplied, an effort was made to provide a sufficiently descriptive title.

Title
Literary Arts and Urban Journalism Program Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Anna Smith
Date
2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, MLK Library Repository

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