[Tuskegee, Al. 1936-1939].  leaves, including five leaves of inscriptions, and numerous mounted theater and school programs, and assorted newspaper clippings and ephemera, with a handful of letters and photographs laid in. Contemporary thick wooden boards, metal hinges, bound with two long screws with wingnuts, front board artfully carved with inset titles reading "TUSKEGEE INST. 39." Minor scuffing to boards. Contents generally sound. Very good. Item #4595
A unique record of a young Arkansas man's experiences during his time at Tuskegee Institute in the late-1930s. According to a slightly later letter here from his father, William J. Bryant was the son of a Little Rock physician named J.B. Bryant. In another letter present here, a retained copy of a letter sent by Bryant to the principal of Cobb Avenue High School in Anniston, Alabama, in seeking a teaching position, Bryant writes that he graduated from Tuskegee in May 1939 with a Bachelor of Science in Education. In yet another retained copy of an undated letter sent to the Registrar of Tuskegee, after graduation Bryant attended graduate school at the University of Arizona where he "put in one semester working toward a Masters in education with special interest on the retarded child."
The material in the present album amounts to an autograph book and scrapbook retained by Bryant over the course of his time at Tuskegee and assembled by him during his final year there. The five pages of inscriptions at the beginning of the book are typically friendly and humorous, written by a variety of Bryant's friends and classmates from a number of states throughout the South, including Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, the Carolinas, and Alabama. A handful of classmates also hail from Illinois, West Virginia, Ohio, and Connecticut. The theater and school programs pertain mostly to events which took place at Tuskegee, such as theater productions, commencements, fraternity events, and more. The more notable events include a performance by famed singer Etta Moten, a concert by the Tuskegee Institute Band, the 1938 Founder's Day Exercises, and a March 1939 visit by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. In addition to the aforementioned letters, four photographs are also laid into the album, though they are not captioned; they feature a young Black man in military uniform (possibly Bryant himself), a young Black woman, a trio of African Americans outside the "Hotel Reeves," and an image of a house. The binding itself adds an extra flair to the album, with the front board reading "TUSKEGEE INST. 39" (with "TUSKEGEE" running diagonal from top left to bottom right). Each of these letters and numbers were carved out with a knife or similar tool and then the inner portions of most of the letters were colored or stained. A wonderful record of Bryant's student life at Tuskegee, with some hint of his future activities as a teacher, and unique materiality in its binding.