Remember Maya Angelou through a commemorative exhibit in Harlem

Highlights from a collection of personal materials Angelou donated to the Schomberg Center four years ago are now on display in Harlem

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Maya Angelou in 2002

Maya Angelou in 2002 Photograph: REX USA

If rereading Maya Angelou's poetry has left you wanting more ways to mourn her passing, the New York Public Library is offering Angelou fans a chance to connect with the author through an exhibit of her personal artifacts and manuscripts.


In 2010, Angelou donated over 200 boxes of her private materials to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a unit of the NYPL system. The boxes include personal letters from James Baldwin and Malcolm X, revised drafts of Angelou’s well-known poems and preliminary versions of several books, including her autobiography, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Although Schomberg staff are still working to process and organize the trove of literary treasures, the center opened a pop-up exhibit this morning—Friday, May 30—to display highlights from the collection.


When Angelou donated the archive, she explained that libraries had given her a sense of safety and possibility as a child. Her hope, she said, was that her collection might allow the NYPL to do the same thing for another child. For the next month, visitors interested in exploring Angelou’s work and life can browse through the exhibit in the lobby of the Schomburg Center in Harlem. Although the display will close June 30, the archive is currently available to researchers, and is expected to be fully catalogued within a year.



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