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Ed Bullins Collection

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRR
Date: 13 Nov 2006

Biographical History

Ed Bullins was born July 2, 1935, in Philadelphia, PA, the son of Edward and Bertha Marie (Queen) Bullins. Although an excellent student, in junior high school he was transferred to an inner city school and joined a gang, but a near-death from a street-fight stabbing altered his outlook. Still unsure of his calling, he worked several jobs and then joined the U.S. Navy (1952-55). After his discharge from the Navy he left Philadelphia for Los Angeles, where he earned his G.E.D. and began to seriously work on his writing. He studied at a number of colleges including Los Angeles City College, San Francisco State College (now University), New York School of Visual Arts, New School Extension, Vista College, and University of California Berkeley Extension.

Bullins began writing plays as a political activist in the mid-1960s; he also served as associate director of Harlem's New Lafayette Theatre and edited the theater magazine, Black Theatre. He and a few other young black activists (including Huey Newton and Bobby Seale) created a militant cultural-political organization called Black House, and when Newton and Seale formed California's Black Panther Party, Bullins served as its Minister of Culture. Bullins' plays, exploring the disillusionment and frustration of ghetto life, were written expressly for and about blacks and he was a militant member of the black arts movement, at one point advocating cultural separatism between races. Although he was outspokenly dismissive of white aesthetic standards ("It doesn't matter whether they appreciate it. It's not for them."), mainstream critics praised his work; in the 1970s Bullins won three Off-Broadway Awards for distinguished playwriting, a Drama Critics Circle Award, and several prestigious Guggenheim and Rockefeller playwriting grants.

He eventually received a B.A. from Antioch University (1989) and an M.F.A. from San Francisco State University (1994). In his forty-year career he has written more than ninety plays, started several theatre companies, and been a founding member of several writing workshops. He has also written under the names Kingsley B. Bass and Kingsley B. Bass, Jr.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ed Bullins Collection consists of typescripts. First is a collection of ten one-act plays. All but one of the plays (The Game of Adam and Eve) were later published, though the published versions are not necessarily identical to the versions which appear in this collection. Second is Miss Marie.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


Bullins, Ed.

Associated Titles

A minor scene.
Dialect determinism.
How do you do.
It has no choice.
Miss Marie.
The Gentleman caller.
The corner.
The corner.
The game of Adam and Eve.
The helper.
The man who dug fish.
The theme is blackness.


African American dramatists.
American literature -- African American authors.
Black Arts Movement -- United States.
One-act plays -- American.
Radicalism in literature.
Revolutionary literature -- American.

Genres and Forms

Scripts (documents)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ed Bullins Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Adah C. Blackman Fund, Oct. 2006.

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