Christian reports to Benjamin Quarles

Christian reports to Benjamin Quarles


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes





Letters from the

Archives of Marcus Bruce Christian

From & To Friends, Colleagues, & Wife




Books by Marcus Bruce Christian

Song of the Black Valiants: Marching Tempo / High Ground: A Collection of Poems  / Negro soldiers in the Battle of New Orleans

 I Am New Orleans: A Poem / Negro Ironworkers of Louisiana, 1718–1900 /  The Liberty Monument

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Letter 27

Christian Reports to Benjamin Quarles

on War Information Center & WPA Project





April 2, 1943 

Dr. Benjamin Quarles, Chairman

Library Board

Dillard University 


Dear Doctor Quarles: 

A period of a month and a half has elapsed since I made my last report to you concerning the activities of the War Information Center.

In my last report the fact was mentioned that I had organized and opened the center. After opening the center I was able to accomplish a few things in calling it to the attention of the public. Towards this end editors of the local Negro press have given me all of the cooperation that was promised, some things which I mentioned in my report at that time. A few news items have also appeared in the local white press.

As much of this was in the nature of calling the attention of the public to the center, I shall enumerate a few of the things accomplished. Several days after the opening of the center I was able to have Mr. Samuel Hoskins, city editor of the New Orleans SENTINEL, come out and look over our office. He later wrote a lengthy article on the activities of the center and the material it had to offer to the general public.

Since that time I wrote five or six poems, news releases, and articles for the local Negro press which covered several columns, and received front-page or editorial-page positions. I also appealed to OPPORTUNITY Magazine of New York, asking its editors that whenever mention is made of me in regard to five separate items of mine that they are going to publish . . . . The demand of one of the newspapers that I write exclusively for its own publication and my deeper immersion into the writing and editing of the first draft of the last remaining chapters of THE NEGRO IN LOUISIANA have caused me to suspend for a time my activities in regard to newspaper copy.

One of the news releases written for the local Negro and white press was a short article on a display of early Negro newspapers and magazines, etc., which I had arranged in the the display case in the name of the Dillard University Library. My  other activities were directed to devoting some time to inquiries coming into the center for facts and material, and then receiving and arranging between 100 and 200 pamphlets, booklets and mimeographed releases.

The center has also written to several agencies for booklets, etc., and in connection with this hundreds of pieces of material have been received and place upon our free distribution table where the supply has steadily diminished. Doctor Daley of the Romance Language Department also kindly donated to the center nearly a hundred copies of booklets on Inter-American relations. These were also distributed to students and persons visiting the center.

As much of my time during the last month has been devoted to the history manuscript, it is well that I tell you something of what has been attempted and accomplished. I understand that it has been suggested that I might better employ my time in writing the remaining part of the manuscript by removing myself to the room adjoining the Art Department.

I had several reasons for preferring to finish the study where I am now located. The fact that I would either have to close the War Information Center during the time I should be upstairs, or else leave it open for hours at a time with no one to supervise it, was an added factor in my decision to remain where I am now. I understand that I was to receive some student aid, but I have learned that it may be difficult to do so.

My wife, who is yet to be assigned to me on that basis, has already been doing voluntary work in the typing of the last draft of the chapter which I am now bringing to a close. I have about completed the first draft of this chapter upon which she is working, and the second chapter–with a few small editions–is expected to be completed within the present month. This will then leave me free for the cataloging of the material on cards, which will bring to a completion my duties under the contract.

In this manner I shall devote approximately one month to organizing and opening the center; two months to the actual writing of the manuscript; and one month to indexing or cataloging the material on cards. I am mailing you an extra copy of this report, asking that you will please pass it to Dean Moses so that he will know of the progress made thus far in writing the manuscript which I am to present to you both on May 31, 1943. I should be glad to receive any suggestions that you or he may have on any phases of the work mentioned here.


Marcus B. Christian, Director

War Information Center 


<<—Previous                Next–28->>

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Selected Letters  Selected Diary Notes

Memories of Marcus B. Christian (CainsChristian’s BioBibliographical Record    Introduction to I AM NEW ORLEANS 

A Theory of a Black Aesthetic   Magpies, Goddesses, & Black Male Identity

Activist Works on Next Level of Change   Intro to I Am New Orleans   Letter from Dillard University

A Labor of Genuine Love  Letter of Gift of Photos   Letters from LSU and Skip Gates

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Negro Iron Workers of Louisiana: 1718-1900

By Marcus Bruce Christian


Study of the blacksmith tradition and New Orleans famous lace balconies and fences.

Acclaimed during his life as the unofficial poet laureate of the New Orleans African-American community, Marcus Christian recorded a distinguished career as historian, journalist, and literary scholar. He was a contributor to Pelican’s Gumbo Ya Ya, and also wrote many articles that appeared in numerous newspapers, journals, and general-interest publications.

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Marcus Bruce Christian

Selected Diary Notes / Selected Poems  / Selected Letters


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Debt: The First 5,000 Years

By David Graeber

Before there was money, there was debt. Every economics textbook says the same thing: Money was invented to replace onerous and complicated barter systems—to relieve ancient people from having to haul their goods to market. The problem with this version of history? There’s not a shred of evidence to support it. Here anthropologist David Graeber presents a stunning reversal of conventional wisdom. He shows that for more than 5,000 years, since the beginnings of the first agrarian empires, humans have used elaborate credit systems to buy and sell goods—that is, long before the invention of coins or cash. It is in this era, Graeber argues, that we also first encounter a society divided into debtors and creditors.  Graeber shows that arguments about debt and debt forgiveness have been at the center of political debates from Italy to China, as well as sparking innumerable insurrections. He also brilliantly demonstrates that the language of the ancient works of law and religion (words like “guilt,” “sin,” and “redemption”) derive in large part from ancient debates about debt, and shape even our most basic ideas of right and wrong. We are still fighting these battles today without knowing it. Debt: The First 5,000 Years is a fascinating chronicle of this little known history—as well as how it has defined human history, and what it means for the credit crisis of the present day and the future of our economy.  

Economist Glenn Loury  /Criminalizing a Race

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 5 April 2010 




Home   Selected Diary Notes  Selected Letters   Selected Poems   Marcus Bruce Christian  Education & History

Related files: Historiography and African Americans: Benjamin Quarles   Quarles Bio-Chronology    Negro in the American Revolution   Dent complains of Christian’s Progress on WPA material

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