The Barbara Christian Papers, 1967-2000, document Christian's academic career at U.C.
Berkeley. The collection is composed mainly of reprinted articles and bibliographies, research and course
materials, correspondence, and original manuscripts with notes and related materials. Reprinted articles and
research materials include magazine and newspaper articles as well as academic publications. Course materials
are in the form of handwritten notes, syllabi and other class handouts. Correspondence includes letters from
students, colleagues, and authors including Alice Walker.
Barbara Christian was born on December 12, 1943 in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She earned her Ph.D. in English
Literature from Columbia University in 1970; a year later, she became an assistant professor at U.C. Berkeley.
She was a prominent figure in establishing the African American Studies Department, and in 1978 she became the
first African American woman at Berkeley to receive tenure. In 1986, she became a full professor and eventually
received the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1991. She is best known for Black Feminist
Criticism and her study, Black Women Novelists: The Development of a
Tradition. She was one of the first academic professors to focus attention on Toni Morrison and Alice
Walker, among other black women novelists and writers. She edited portions of the Norton
Anthology of African American Literature from the 1970s to the 1990s. The MELUS Award and the American
Book Award were among the many honors she received during her lifetime. She taught at U.C. Berkeley from 1972
until her death on June 25, 2000. She is survived by her daughter, Najuma I. Henderson.
Number of containers: 12 cartons
Linear feet: 15
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be submitted in
writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 94720-6000.
Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to
include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such permission must be obtained from the copyright
owner. See: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html.
Collection is open for research.