Overview of the Collection
Scope and Content
Overview of the Collection
Title: W. Sherman Savage Collection
Dates (inclusive): Approximately 1950-1981
Collection Number: mssSavage collection
Savage, W. Sherman (William Sherman)
598 items, plus teaching materials, ephemera and printed matter in 10 boxes
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
1151 Oxford Road
San Marino, California 91108
Phone: (626) 405-2129
Abstract: 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.
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.
Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader
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
[Identification of item]. W. Sherman Savage Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
Gift of Eloise S. Logan, May 5, 1987.
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
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).
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).
Scope and Content
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).
Some notable items include 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.
Note: 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.
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
Brown, John, 1800-1859.
Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895.
Leidesdorff, William A. (William Alexander), 1810-1848.
Savage, W. Sherman (William Sherman) -- Archives.
Tubman, Harriet, 1820?-1913.
African American teachers -- United States -- Archives.
African Americans -- California -- History.
African Americans -- West (U.S.) -- History.
Antislavery movements -- United States.
Civil rights -- 18th century.
Frontier and pioneer life -- West (U.S.)
Historians -- California -- Archives.
Historians -- Missouri -- Archives.
Slavery -- United States -- Controversial literature.
Teachers -- California -- Archives.
Teachers -- Missouri -- Archives.
Underground Railroad -- Indiana.
West (U.S.) -- History -- 1848-1860.
Ephemera -- United States -- 20th century.
Journals -- (periodicals) United States -- 20th century.
Letters -- (correspondence) United States -- 20th century.
Manuscripts -- United States -- 20th century.
Offprints -- United States -- 20th century.
Billington, Ray Allen, 1903-1981.
Greene, Lorenzo J. (Lorenzo Johnston), 1899-1988.
Nunis, Doyce B. (Doyce Blackman), 1924-2011.
California State University, Los Angeles.
Greenwood Press (Westport, Conn.)
Lincoln University (Jefferson City, Mo.)
Ohio State University. Department of History.
Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
University of Nebraska--Lincoln. Television Department.