A new exhibition, “The First Books of Manuscrit” at the National Museum of African American History and Culture is opening in Washington, D.C. — it is the first time in more than a decade that a collection of manuscripts has been housed in a museum.
The exhibit features thousands of handwritten and illuminated manuscripts, some dating to the 1600s.
They range from religious documents and social commentary to religious texts, poetry and hymns.
The collection is housed in the Smithsonian’s National Museum and Gardens in Washington and is a collaborative effort between Smithsonian museums, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Libraries and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Geddes, a retired professor emeritus of classics at the University of Missouri, is curator of manuscripts and is also the author of the recently published book “The Book of Negroes: From the Beginning to the End of the 19th Century.”
He has written about the oral tradition of writing and oral history for more than 20 years, most recently a history of the South at the Southern Historical Society, an exhibition for the Smithsonian African American Museum.
Kelleher, a professor of African studies at the New York University, has published extensively on oral history in America.
He is the author, most notably, of “The African-American Manuscript: Writing, Memory and the Making of the Modern State,” published in 2012.
He recently published a book of essays on the history of African Americans at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.