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Guide to the Justitia Davis Papers
MS 82  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Separated Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Justitia Davis papers
    Dates: 1901-2000
    Collection number: MS 82
    Creator: Davis, Justitia.
    Collection Size: 2 linear feet (5 boxes + 1 oversized box)
    Repository: African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
    Oakland, CA 94612
    Abstract: The Justitia Davis papers include scrapbooks, photographs, music and theatrical programs, newspaper clippings, artifacts, and certificates that document the life and career of actor and music teacher Justitia Davis. The papers are arranged into three series: Performing arts, Education, and Photographs. The bulk of the papers consist of 467 photographs most of which are personal photographs of Davis’ family and friends in the 1920s-1940s.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    No access restrictions. Collection is open to the public.

    Access Restrictions

    Materials are for use in-library only, non-circulating.

    Publication Rights

    Permission to publish from the Justitia Davis Papers must be obtained from the African American Museum & Library at Oakland.

    Preferred Citation

    Justitia Davis papers, MS 82, African American Museum & Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Sean Heyliger, 11/01/2013.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Singer, actress, pianist, and music teacher Justitia Davis Scott (1918-1976) was born on May 31, 1918 in Oakland, California the daughter of music director and teacher Lillian Jeter Davis and T. M. Davis. After attending schools in Oakland, Davis transferred to Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington during her sophomore year graduating in 1936.
    Following high school, Davis was active in Elmer Keeton’s Bay Area Negro Chorus before landing the lead role of Sulamai in the 1938 Federal Theatre Project’s San Francisco production of Hall Johnson’s Run Little Chillun. Run Little Chillun’s critical and box office success spurred an adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Swing Mikado the following year, featuring Davis in the role of Yum-Yum opposite Jester Hairston. The Swing Mikado production included performances at San Francisco’s Geary Theatre and at the Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island in June, 1934.
    During 1940s, Davis worked as a piano teacher and continued to be active in Elmer Keeton’s Chorus. Her piano students performed recitals at the Chapel of the Chimes throughout the 1940s-1950s and she served as a soloist and co-director of Keeton Memorial Chorus. In the 1960s, she also acted in the role of Mama Younger in a 1961 production of Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun at the University of California Berkeley, and she replaced Gertrude Jeanette in an off-Broadway production of To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Justitia Davis papers include scrapbooks, photographs, music and theatrical programs, newspaper clippings, artifacts, and certificates that document the life and career of actor and music teacher Justitia Davis. The papers are arranged into three series: Performing arts, Education, and Photographs. The bulk of the papers consist of 467 photographs most of which are personal photographs of Davis’ family and friends in the 1920s-1940s. The photographs are arranged into five subseries: Performing arts, Family photographs, 3rd Baptist Church Youth Choir, Syd’s Barbershop, and Assorted.
    The performing arts series includes music and theatrical programs, newspaper clippings, artifacts documenting Justitia Davis' career as an actress and music teacher. The two scrapbooks document Davis' performances in The Swing Mikado and Run Little Chillun and include telegrams, theatrical programs, photographs, and newspaper clippings. The music and theatrical programs include programs of Davis’ student piano concerts at the Chapel at the Chimes during the 1940s and a program from the University of California Berkeley’s production of A Raisin in the Sun in 1962. The education series includes two of Davis’ yearbooks, The Arrow, from Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington in 1934 and 1936 and Davis’ music teacher certificate.

    Arrangement

    Series I. Performing Arts Series II. Education Series III. Photographs

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Davis, Justitia.
    Hall, Marcus, 1904-1977.
    African American families -- California -- Oakland.
    African American theater -- California -- San Francisco.
    African American theater -- History -- 20th century.
    African Americans -- California -- Eastbay -- History.
    African Americans -- California -- Oakland -- Social conditions -- 20th century.
    Johnson, Hall, 1888-1970 -- Run little chillun.
    Oakland (Calif.) -- Social life and customs.

    Separated Material

    13 publications were removed from the collection and added to AAMLO's library collection.