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Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Exhibition

Exhibition at the Roger Williams University Library
In conjunction with the

Fifteenth Annual Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Lecture
The 75th anniversary of the publication of Richard Wright’s Native Son


Richard Wright’s Native Son:  Then and Now

Dates: February 1 - March 31, 2015

Online exhibition featuring selected items from the library exhibition as well as additional items: Birss Online Exhibit site

Library exhibition featuring items courtesy of:

Yale Collection of American Literature
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
New Haven, Connecticut

Kent State University Libraries
Special Collections and Archives
Kent, Ohio

Library of Congress
Prints and Photographs Division
Washington, DC

Douglas and Judith Krupp Library
Bryant University
Smithfield, Rhode Island

Redwood Library
Newport, Rhode Island


Sponsored by: The Professor John Howard Birss, Jr. Memorial Library Fund

 Prepared by:
Professor Christine S. Fagan
with assistance from Assistant Professor Lindsey Gumb, Heidi Benedict, Megan Lessard, Christopher Truszkowski and Liz Hanes
Roger Williams University Libraries

Featured items:

  • First edition of Native Son published by Harper & Brothers (1940)
  • Cover art from various editions of Native Son
  • Facsimile letter written by Richard Wright to his boyhood friend, Joe Brown, in anticipation of the publication of Native Son
  • Facsimiles of Carl Van Vechten photographs of Richard Wright and Richard and Ellen Wright
  • Facsimiles of an unpublished article written in 1950 for Ebony entitled “I Choose Exile” and associated correspondence
  • Farm Security Administration photographs of South Side Chicago in the 1930s, the setting of the novel
  • Flickr photographs of protests in response to recent events in Ferguson, Missouri and New York City
  • Richard Wright’s obituary, The New York Times, November 30, 1960

Additional resources produced by the Library in support of this event include:


Richard Wright and Native Son:  A Selective Bibliography
Compiled by Adam Riccitelli

Featured Collection:

Selected titles by and about Richard Wright are located on the Featured Collection display case near the New Books Collection