What do authors generally hope for the most after years of researching, typing, re-typing, staying up too late and then getting up too early to complete a book and see it through to publication? It is that the book shall be warmly received by the reading public and treated kindly by the critical literary powers that be. The anxiety is not very different from that of a parent sending a child off to school alone for the first time.
Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance was not my first published book but it was the first produced and distributed by a major traditional publisher: Facts On File, now Infobase Publishing. Communication with different scholars, prior to the encyclopedia’s release in September of 2003, revealed they were glad to learn my co-author Sandra and I had taken on the challenge of writing it. They gave me reason to feel optimistic.
A S/heroic Librarian
“As the Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance will broaden the context for students studying the visual arts, it will do the same for students studying any discipline...”
What Ms. Hoaas wrote and shared with us was part of an official request to her facility’s director to make it part of their “Resources in the Humanities.” The kind of technical writing she employed to make the full recommendation came to almost 2,000 words and is something by which I remain impressed. Below is a brief excerpt:
“A recently published resource has come to my attention that will fill a need in this library efficiently and rather inexpensively. It is a source that is unique in that it draws together the many facets of an important and oft studied period in American history, the Harlem Renaissance...
It is because Sandra and I could not have asked for a better welcome from a professional librarian that I am happy to acknowledge Ms. Hoaas’s contribution to the book’s success. The same way a parent might note the positive influence of an early teacher on their child’s growth into an accomplished adult. While I was unable to locate or contact her for this post, I am grateful she recognized what we had worked so hard to do and became one of the project’s valued champions.
Why is all this important during the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance? Because it demonstrates how the work both honored the legacies of pioneering historians like W.E.B. Du Bois, Carter G. Woodson, and Arturo Schomburg, as well as expanded it. Too much African-American history had been on the brink of erasure just as many discovering the need to access to its lessons on resilience, faith, and creative adaptation. Instead of being lost, it has now been preserved and secured in libraries across the globe.
Winner of Choice Academic Title Award, Best History Book Award, and Notable Book of the Year Award for Encyclopedia of the Harlem Remaisssance.