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Inventory of the W. Sherman Savage Collection, c.1950-1981
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Summary Report
  • Subject Matter
  • Items of Special Interest
  • Physical Description
  • Bibliography
  • Arrangement of the Collection
  • Related Items

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: W. Sherman Savage Collection,
    Date (inclusive): c.1950-1981
    Creator: Savage, W. Sherman
    Extent: Number of pieces: 598 pieces (excluding teaching materials, ephemera and printed matter).
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    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 URL. 


    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.

    Publication Rights

    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 information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], W. Sherman Savage Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Summary Report

    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 The Journal of Negro History and 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, Blacks in the West (Westport, CT, 1976).

    Subject Matter

    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.

    Physical Description

    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.

    Related Items

    A typescript copy of Dr. Savage's memoirs (c.1979) is separately cataloged as HM 48340.