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W. Sherman Savage Collection: Finding Aid
mssSavage collection  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
This collection contains the papers of American history professor W. Sherman Savage (1890-1980), dating from the 1950s to 1981 and concerning his writing and research on African American history, especially in the California and trans-Mississippi West, his retirement from Lincoln University in 1960 and his subsequent teaching at Cal State Los Angeles. There is also material about his efforts to secure a publisher for his major study, Blacks in the West.
Background
W. Sherman Savage (March 7, 1890-May 23, 1980) remained deeply involved in education throughout his adult life, both as a teacher and as a scholar. Born in Wattsville, Accomac County, Virginia, Savage received a bachelor's degree from Howard University in 1917. He held various teaching positions in Mississippi, North Carolina and Oklahoma, before becoming professor of history at Lincoln University of Missouri (Jefferson City, Missouri) in 1921. Despite the racial barriers in place at most universities, Savage also pursued his graduate studies, becoming the first black graduate of the University of Oregon (receiving an M.A. in 1925) and the first black to receive a doctorate from Ohio State University in 1934. Dr. Savage remained at Lincoln University until his retirement in 1960 as chair of the History Department. As his papers demonstrate, he was regarded with great respect and affection by his colleagues and by his students at Lincoln University because of his exceptional dedication to the school and to his teaching. Thereafter, he taught in the History and Political Science Department at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas until 1966. Following his departure from Jarvis, he and his wife Roena moved to Los Angeles where he continued to teach as a visiting professor at California State College, Los Angeles until 1970. He pursued his research and his writing in the years after his final retirement up until his death in 1980. As an historian, Savage wrote initially about abolitionism (including a published version of his doctoral dissertation, "The Controversy Over the Distribution of Abolition Literature, 1830-1860") but soon became interested in exploring the circumstances of African Americans in the trans-Mississippi West. He published extensively in The Journal of Negro History and The Negro History Bulletin on aspects of the subject, served as a consultant to a 1970 television series dealing with the general topic and eventually made it the subject of his best known book, Blacks in the West (Westport, CT, 1976).
Extent
598 items, plus teaching materials, ephemera and printed matter in 10 boxes
Restrictions
The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.
Availability
Course enrollment lists and student papers from Dr. Savage's years as a member of the History Department at California State College, Los Angeles, have been removed from the collection and are currently restricted until December 31, 2029 in order to protect the privacy of students in his classes. Another file related to letters of recommendation on behalf of a fellowship application has also been closed for the same time period.