This collection contains the papers of American history professor W. Sherman Savage (1890-1980), dating from the 1950s to
1981 and concerning
his 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 Los Angeles.
There is also material about his efforts to secure a publisher for his major study, Blacks in the West.
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).
598 items, plus teaching materials, ephemera and printed matter in 10 boxes
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material,
nor does it charge fees for such activities.
The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the
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.