About this Site
Within the physical parameters that define Harlem, between the years of 1917 and 1935, artists, writers, dancers, musicians, activists, philosophers, and patrons went to the same parties, danced at the same clubs, and lived and worked on the same streets. As a result, many of the works produced during this period were results of collaborations between artists, and of the influence, encouragement, and inspiration of individuals living and working in Harlem.
Drop Me Off in Harlem is a Web-based resource for teachers and students that explores the themes and works that emerged when creative and intellectual voices intersected during the Harlem Renaissance. The site contains three main sections:
- Faces of the Renaissance: a collection of "cards" that discuss influential individuals and works and their intersections with other individuals and works.
- A Place Called Harlem: an interactive map of prominent cultural, social, and political establishments in Harlem.
- Themes and Variations: a series of features that provide an in-depth look at seminal works, and important themes and threads that emerged during this period.
Each section contains a wealth of primary sources to read, listen to, and watch. You can jump straight to the various multimedia offerings through the link to our Media Player to experience the sights and sounds of the Harlem Renaissance. Visit our Classroom Activities section to find out how Drop Me Off in Harlem can provide a wealth of enriching learning opportunities for middle school and high school students.
How did we decide which faces and places to highlight in this site?
Who would you meet if you were actually dropped off in Harlem between 1917 and 1935? Countless artists, scholars, activists, and patrons flourished during the Harlem Renaissance. The individuals highlighted in Faces of the Renaissance were selected not only for their artistic, financial, and intellectual contributions to the Harlem Renaissance, but also for their connection to Harlem, itself. Each person featured in the site lived in Harlem and/or produced works influenced by Harlem between the years of 1917 and 1935, and shared connections with other prominent individuals in Harlem.
In an effort to capture the mood and spirit of Harlem, individuals were chosen in part because they were inspired by the place, itself—this site features painters and composers whose works reflect a place or event in Harlem and poets and essayists who wrote about some aspect of Harlem life.
The places you will encounter in our interactive map are representative of important social, artistic, and political establishments in Harlem. They also allow you to actually see and visualize the physical spaces where the many faces of the Renaissance intersected.
The following individuals and institutions have granted permission for use of the images below.*
- Image of Eubie Blake, Shuffle Along chorus girls, and Shuffle Along publicity photo courtesy of the Maryland Historical Society.
- Image of Cab Calloway courtesy of the Archives of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University.
- Images of Cullen, Gilpin, McKay, Mills, Lafayette Theatre, Fauset, and Harlem After Midnight are courtesy of the Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. (From top left): Ethel Waters in As Thousands Cheer, 1933; portrait of Countee Cullen [photographer: James L. Allen]; Charles Gilpin in The Emperor Jones; portrait of Claude McKay [photographer: James L. Allen]; portrait of Florence Mills [photographer: White Studios]; The Lafayette Theater on the opening night of Voodoo MacBeth; Jessie Redmon Fauset; Lobby Card, advertisement from Oscar Micheaux's Harlem After Midnight.
- Above images courtesy of the Art & Artifacts Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. (From left) Aaron Douglas. Aspects of Negro Life: Song of the Towers, [oil on canvas], 1934; Meta Warrick Fuller. The Awakening of Ethiopia, c. 1910. [sculpture].
- Fire!! New York, vol. 1, no.1, Nov 1926, cover, courtesy of the Manuscripts, Archives, & Rare Book Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
- Image of Duke Ellington, the Cotton Club, the Cotton Club dancers, Cotton Club matchbook, Cotton Club menu, "Brown Sugar" sheet music, Duke Ellington at the piano, the manuscript of Ellington's "Black Beauty," Brunswick Record Label, and Ellington composing courtesy of the Duke Ellington Centennial Celebration.
- Image of Marcus Garvey and the masthead of Negro World courtesy of The Marcus Garvey and UNIA Papers Project, UCLA.
- Image of Palmer Hayden courtesy of the Smithsonian Archives of American Art, Papers of African American Artists.
- Images of Fletcher Henderson, Bessie Smith, Earl "Snakehips" Tucker, the interior of Connie's Inn, and the Renaissance Ballroom courtesy of the Frank Driggs Collection.
- Images of Langston Hughes, Charles S. Johnson, James Weldon Johnson, Zora Neale Hurston, Paul Robeson, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Carl Van Vechten by Carl Van Vechten, courtesy of the Van Vechten Trust.
- Image of James P. Johnson courtesy of the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University.
- Images of Alain Locke and Sterling Brown courtesy of the Moorland-Springarn Research Center of the Founders Library at Howard University, Washington, DC.
- Image of Augusta Savage courtesy of the Green Coves Springs City Council, Green Coves Springs, FL.
- Image of William Grant Still, the manuscript of Afro-American Symphony, courtesy of Still Going On. Celebrating the Life and Times of William Grant Still. Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University. Used with permission of Judith Anne Still.
- Image of Wallace Thurman courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
- Image of James VanDerZee, Self-portrait, 1918; Group Portrait in the Dark Tower, 1929; Abyssinian Baptist Church, 1927; and Couple in Raccoon Coats, 1932: All Photographed by James VanDerZee; © Donna Mussenden VanDerZee, all rights reserved.
- Images of the James VanDerZee Studio, Harlem Branch YMCA, Countee Cullen Branch of the New York Public Library, and Mother A.M.E. Zion Church used with permission of the New York City Department of City Planning.
- Image of the Savoy Ballroom courtesy of George Karger/Pix Inc./Timepix.
- Image of the Tree of Hope courtesy of Hansel Mieth/Timepix.
- Image of one page of the manuscript, "Gentleman Jigger," by Richard Bruce Nugent courtesy of Thomas H. Wirth.
- Image of Arna Bontemps courtesy of the Arna Bontemps Museum, Alexandria, Louisiana.
- Image of Selma Burke's bust of Duke Ellington courtesy of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Image of the cover of James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones (illustration by Aaron Douglas) and The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Aaron Douglas courtesy of The Walter O. Evans Foundation for Art and Literature.
- Image of Leon James and Willa Mae Ricker demonstrating a step of The Lindy Hop courtesy of Gjon Mili/Timepix.
- Image of the covers of Opportunity Journal courtesy of The National Urban League.
- Augusta Savage in her studio working on The Harp courtesy of the Morgan and Marvin Smith Photograph Collection, Photographs and Prints Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.
- Image of A'Lelia Walker courtesy of the A'Lelia Bundles/Walker Family Collection.
- Image of the Shuffle Along manuscript courtesy of the Library of Congress.
- Aaron Douglas with Arthur Schomburg and the Song of Towers mural (1934), courtesy of the Works Project Administration Collection.
- Cover of Messenger magazine (July 1918), courtesy of Thomas Fleming.
- Cover of Survey Graphic: "Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro" courtesy of the Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia.
* Acknowledgment of known copyrighted items is given on unnamed items when possible. All other images on this site are believed to be in the public domain. To report the copyright status of an uncredited image, e-mail and acknowledgments will be given or the image will be removed.
Excerpt and Reprint Credits
- Excerpt of "Criteria of Negro Art" by W. E. B. Du Bois: Reprinted with permission of Dr. David Graham Du Bois and the W. E. B. Du Bois Foundation. From The Portable Renaissance Reader, edited by David Levering Lewis (New York: Penguin Books, 1994). Originally in Crisis, October 1926.
- "The Weary Blues" by Langston Hughes: Reprinted with the permission of the Harold Ober Associates, Inc., on behalf of the Estate of Langston Hughes.
- Excerpt of "How it Feels to be Colored Me" by Zora Neale Hurston: Reprinted with the permission of the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.
- "If We Must Die" by Claude McKay: Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.
- Excerpt of Negro Life in New York's Harlem by Wallace Thurman: Excerpted from Wallace Thurman's Negro Life in New York’s Harlem (Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1928).
Sources & Citations
- Bowser, Pearl, Jane Gaines, and Charles Musser, ed. Oscar Micheaux and His Circle: African-American Filmmaking and Race Cinema of the Silent Era. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2001.
- Erlewine, Michael, Vladimir Bogdanov, Chris Woodstra, and Scott Yanow, ed. All Music Guide to Jazz. San Francisco: Miller Freeman Books, 1998.
- Gioia, Ted. The History of Jazz. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1997.
- Krasner, David. A Beautiful Pageant: African American Theatre, Drama, and Performance in the Harlem Renaissance, 1910-1927. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002.
- Lewis, David Levering, ed. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.
- Lewis, David Levering. W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963. New York: Owl Books, 2001.
- Lewis, David Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue. New York: Penguin Books, 1979.
- Miers, Charles, ed. Harlem Renaissance: Art of Black America. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1987.
- Smith, Jessie Carney. Black Firsts: 4,000 Groundbreaking and Pioneering Historical Events. Detroit: Gale Research, 2003.
- Taylor, Billy. Billy Taylor's Taylor Made Piano. Dubuque, IA: Wm. C. Brown Publishers, 1982.
- Watson, Steven. The Harlem Renaissance: Hub of African-American Culture, 1920-1930. New York: Pantheon Books, 1995.
ARTSEDGE wishes to thank the following individuals and organizations for their assistance during the development of "Drop Me Off in Harlem."
- A'Lelia Bundles
- David Levering Lewis, Ph.D.
- Tom Rowland, Unimusic
- Ruth Ann Stewart
- Jo Tanner, Ph.D.
- Billy Taylor, Ph.D.
- Sr. Francesca Thompson
- Donna Mussenden VanDerZee
- Fraidy Cat A/V
- The ARTSEDGE Teachers Advisory Council
Site design and development
- A Place Called Harlem map by Planit Agency