Items of Special Interest
Arrangement of the Collection
Title: W. Sherman Savage Collection,
Date (inclusive): c.1950-1981
Savage, W. Sherman
Extent: Number of pieces: 598 pieces (excluding teaching
materials, ephemera and printed matter).
San Marino, California 91108
Gift of Mrs. Eloise S. Logan, May 5, 1987.
Collection is open to qualified researches by prior application through the Reader
Services Department. For more information please go to following
Course enrollment lists and student papers from Dr. Savage's years as a member of the
History Department at California State College, Los Angeles have been removed from the
collection and are currently restricted until December 31, 2029 in order to protect the
privacy of students in his classes. Another file related to letters of recommendation on
behalf of a fellowship application has also been closed for the same time period.
In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials,
researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In
most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property
rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary
rights In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the
physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further
[Identification of item], W. Sherman Savage Collection, The Huntington Library, San
W. Sherman Savage (March 7, 1890-May 23, 1980) remained deeply involved in education
throughout his adult life, both as a teacher and as a scholar. Born in Wattsville,
Accomac County, Virginia, Savage received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in
1917. He held various teaching positions in Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma,
before becoming professor of history at Lincoln University of Missouri (Jefferson City,
Missouri) in 1921. Despite the racial barriers in place at most universities, Savage also
pursued his graduate studies, becoming the first black graduate of the University of
Oregon (receiving an M.A. in 1925) and the first black to receive a doctorate from Ohio
State University in 1934. Dr. Savage remained at Lincoln University until his retirement
in 1960 as chair of the History Department. As his papers demonstrate, he was regarded
with great respect and affection by his colleagues and by his students at Lincoln
University because of his exceptional dedication to the school and to his teaching.
Thereafter, he taught in the History and Political Science Department at Jarvis Christian
College in Hawkins, Texas until 1966. Following his departure from Jarvis, he and his
wife Roena moved to Los Angeles where he continued to teach as a visiting professor at
California State College, Los Angeles until 1970. He pursued his research and his writing
in the years after his final retirement up until his death in 1980.
As an historian, Savage wrote initially about abolitionism (including a published version
of his doctoral dissertation, "The Controversy Over the Distribution of Abolition
Literature, 1830-1860") but soon became interested in exploring the circumstances of
African Americans in the trans-Mississippi West. He published extensively in
Journal of Negro History
The Negro History Bulletin on aspects
of the subject, served as a consultant to a 1970 television series dealing with the
general topic and eventually made it the subject of his best known book,
(Westport, CT, 1976).
The papers concern Savage's writing and research on African American history, especially
in the California and trans-Mississippi West, his retirement from Lincoln University in
1960 and his subsequent teaching at Cal State LA. There is also material about his
efforts to secure a publisher for his major study, Blacks in the West. The papers in this
collection represent only the latter portion of Savage's career as an historian and
educator. Unfortunately, according to Savage himself, his earlier papers were destroyed
by a tenant who was leasing the Savages' home after his retirement from Lincoln
University (carbon copy of letter to Dr. Michael R. Winston, Moorland-Spingarn Research
Center, Howard University, July 14, 1974, Box 7, folder 10).
Items of Special Interest
Correspondence in 1969 and 1970 between Sherman Savage and various representatives of the
University of Nebraska's educational television station in the course of developing a
television series on African-Americans in the West (see Savage to Larry Long, Box 6,
folder 53 and University of Nebraska, University Television to Sherman Savage, Box 7,
folder 42); multiple drafts of Sherman Savage's major publication, Blacks in the West
(Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1976), Boxes 1 through 3.
Many of the materials are in rather poor physical condition because of the deteriorating
paper upon which the letters or manuscripts were produced or because of previous
circumstances of storage.
A lengthy memorial appreciation of Dr. Savage, written by Lorenzo J.
Greene, appeared in
The Journal of Negro History,v. 66,
n. 1 (Spring 1981).
Arrangement of the Collection
The collection is housed in ten boxes and is separated into five categories of materials:
manuscripts, correspondence, teaching materials, ephemera and printed matter. The
manuscripts are organized alphabetically by author and then by title while the
correspondence is arranged alphabetically by author and then, where necessary, by
addressee. A complete box and folder inventory for the collection has been provided for
the use of researchers.
A typescript copy of Dr. Savage's memoirs (c.1979) is separately cataloged as HM 48340.