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Peter Graham Collection Relating to Paul Robeson

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 24 Jan 2018

Biographical History

Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was an African-American singer, actor, and political activist.

Robeson was born in 1898 in Princeton, New Jersey. He attended Rutgers College on an academic scholarship, where he was not only the sole black football player but also the only black student enrolled. After earning his degree (1919) he attended Columbia Law School, graduating in 1922. He worked briefly as a lawyer but soon turned to acting where he found great success on stage and screen, performing on Broadway, in Hollywood, and before heads of state including a command performance at Buckingham Palace. He was also deeply involved in the civil rights movement; among other things he spoke out against fascism and apartheid, founded the American Crusade Against Lynching, and campaigned for Progressive Party nominee Henry Wallace across the Deep South in 1948. His political activities led to him being blacklisted during the McCarthy era.

His awards and recognitions include the NAACP's Spingarn medal (1945), recognition by the United Nations General Assembly (1978), a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award (1998), induction into the College Football Hall of Fame (1995) and the American Theatre Hall of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Peter S. Graham (1939-2004) was an American librarian, writer and professor. He held positions at Columbia University, Indiana University and the Research Libraries Group, and was University Librarian at Syracuse University (SU) from 1998 to 2003. He also taught English and textual studies at SU from 2000 to 2003, and throughout his career served on numerous advisory boards and governing bodies for organizations relating to libraries, books and scholarly publication. In his early twenties he became involved in the civil rights movement, participated in sit-ins and protests, and was once arrested with Stokely Carmichael. He worked for Bayard Rustin as office manager during the organization of the 1963 March on Washington.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Peter Graham Collection Relating to Paul Robeson contains correspondence, educational material, and memorabilia related to the African-American singer, actor, and political activist.

Correspondence contains only two items; one is a note to Peter and Lew Graham from Robeson's granddaughter Susan.

Educational material contains a study guide to Robeson's life and legacy, published by the Robeson Foundation.

Memorabilia contains brochures and maps from various venues, material relating to centennial celebrations (1998), clippings, programs (including one from Robeson's grandson's memorial service), and a few miscellaneous items.

Arrangement of the Collection

Alphabetical by type.


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


Graham, Peter S.
Robeson, Paul, 1898-1976

Corporate Bodies

Columbia University -- Student strike, 1968.
Paul Robeson Foundation.
Rutgers College.


Actors -- United States.
African Americans -- Civil rights.
African Americans.
Singers -- United States.


United States -- Politics and government -- 1945-1989.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Instructional materials.
Programs (documents)

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Peter Graham Collection Relating to Paul Robeson,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Unknown; probably gift of Peter Graham, circa 1999.

Table of Contents


Educational materials