Explore the Free Library ’s Alice Dunbar-Nelson Digital Resources

E-books offer opportunities to read literature written by the subject of The Rosenbach’s major upcoming exhibition

The Rosenbach, in partnership with a team of consulting curators, exhibition designers, and a Committee of Community Advisers, is hard at work preparing the Fall 2020 virtual exhibition “I Am an American!”: The Authorship and Activism of Alice Dunbar-Nelson.  A collaborative project undertaken with the University of Delaware Library, Museums, and Press, this groundbreaking online exhibition will be the first major public museum exhibition to examine the life and work of this important Harlem Renaissance author, educator, and Civil Rights activist.  I Am an American!” will ask vital questions about how Dunbar-Nelson, an under-studied historical figure, combined creative writing, political advocacy, classroom teaching, and the work of a public intellectual to pursue social justice—right here in the Philadelphia region.  While awaiting the arrival of the virtual exhibition, we at The Rosenbach and the Free Library of Philadelphia invite you to begin exploring Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s writings by checking out these e-books now available from the Free Library: Violets and Other Tales as well as The Goodness of St. Rocque, and Other Stories

Violets and The Goodness of St. Rocque are the perfect books to read if you want to start exploring Dunbar-Nelson’s literary legacy.  They were the first books she published, and together they established her reputation as an important voice in American literature in the late-1800s.  Dunbar-Nelson’s writings defied easy classification.  She actively resisted pressure to abide by cultural expectations of African American women writers in her time and created sophisticated, first-rate literature that garnered considerable acclaim.

First published in 1895, Violets and Other Tales is a collection of Dunbar-Nelson’s poetry, prose, and essays that bridged the narrative styles of the Victorian Age and Literary Modernism.  Dunbar-Nelson’s literary development continued with The Goodness of St. Rocque and Other Stories, published 1899, which contains stories that address topics including domestic violence, sexism, and prejudice.  First editions of both books will appear in “I Am an American!” as will the manuscript of the short story “The Goodness of St. Rocque,” which gave Dunbar-Nelson’s second book its name.  Start reading the books now, in anticipation of seeing historic artifacts connected to Dunbar-Nelson’s life this autumn.

We hope you enjoy these important works now available as e-books from the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Please check The Rosenbach’s website frequently for updates on the “I Am an American!” exhibition.

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