The Transcription Centre began its brief but significant life in February 1962 under the direction of Dennis Duerden (1927-2006), producing and distributing radio programs for and about Africa. The organization was created with funding provided initially by the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) to foster non-totalitarian cultural values in sub-Saharan Africa in implicit opposition to Soviet-encouraged committed political attitudes among African writers and artists. The records of the Transcription Centre comprise scripts and manuscripts, correspondence, legal documents, business records, ephemera, photographs, and clippings. Particularly noteworthy is a large file of scripts and script fragments arranged topically as a broadcast and publishing resource, including material not represented elsewhere in the papers. Making up about a quarter of the papers, the correspondence series contains significant evidence of the Transcription Centre's efforts on behalf of African art, writing, and scholarship through broadcasting, conferences, and cultural festivals. The correspondence files include artists (Jimo Akolo, Julian Bienart) and writers (Chinua Achebe, Ezekiel Mphahlele, Rajat Neogy, David Rubadiri), as well as academics and other scholars (Ulli Beier, Sillaty K. Dabo, Gerhard Kubik, Margaret Laurence, Ivan van Sertima). The extensive body of correspondence with Wole Soyinka is especially noteworthy.
Nathan "Babe" Leopold (1904–1971) and Dickie Loeb (1905–1936) were convicted of murder in 1924. There are photographs, many unpublished, of these and other notorious homosexual murderers and victims in the photograph morgue of the New York Journal American. The correspondence between Leopold and Erle Stanley Gardner (1889–1970) in Gardner's "Court of Last Resort" archive provides more insight into the Leopold-Loeb case. Additional unpublished photographs of Leopold are scattered among the correspondence there, along with intriguing third-party correspondence, including a lengthy letter from one of Leopold's fellow prisoners that confirms the continuing homosexual practices and attitudes of both Leopold and Loeb after their imprisonment. There is no finding aid available for these materials.
The papers of Maurice Cranston (1920-1993) span his professional career as an author, free-lance reviewer, and professor of political philosophy. In 1967 Cranston published the influential essay "Human Rights, Real and Supposed." His papers include the page proofs for What are Human Rights? (The Bodley Head Ltd., 1973), as well as subject files related to human rights.
Following a decade of work in post-World War II Europe with various U.S. government offices, Michael Josselson decided to help lead the newly created Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a liberal, anti-Communist organization founded by American and European intellectuals to expose Communist cultural oppression and to oppose all forms of totalitarian rule. As the Administrative Secretary of the CCF, Josselson arranged for financing of organizations that operated as fronts to channel CIA funds. After his resignation, Josselson continued to informally advise former CCF associates who created a new organization, the International Association for Cultural Freedom, which disavowed the CCF and the CIA but continued many of the CCF's programs. Collection documents include research notes, reports, maps and correspondence.
Morris Ernst (1888-1976) was an American lawyer and one of the leading advocates of civil liberties in 20th-century America. Ernst served on President Truman’s Committee on Civil Rights and as counsel to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (and later director emeritus) where he defended individual rights and freedom in numerous landmark federal cases on privacy, libel, slander, obscenity, censorship, birth control, abortion, and labor issues. However, Ernst also feared communist influence and helped establish a loyalty oath policy within the ACLU. In his lifetime, Ernst worked with controversial figures such as birth control activist Margaret Sanger, Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujuillo, and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.
The career and personal life of Ernst are documented from 1904 to 2000 through correspondence and memoranda; research materials and notes; minutes, reports, briefs, and other legal documents; handwritten and typed manuscripts; galley proofs; clippings; scrapbooks; audio recordings; photographs; and ephemera.
Anthropologist and novelst, Oliver LaFarge, helped draft a constitution for the Hopi Indians, which he documented in his 116-page manuscript, Running Narrative of the Organization of the Hopi Tribe of Indians (1936). The LaFarge collection contains papers, manuscripts, and correspondence relating to Indian rights and the Hopi Constitution. The collection also includes works of non-fiction, novels and short stories, and the book A Pictorial History of the American Indians.
Roger Casement (1864–1916) was a consular diplomat, tireless campaigner for human rights, and Irish nationalist who was convicted of high treason and hanged in 1916. Although Casement's homosexuality was not an explicit factor during his trial, it was exploited afterward to discourage any case for clemency. The Ottoline Morrell (1873–1938) collection includes drafts of petitions for clemency for Roger Casement and a general account of his activities from 1914 until his arrest, as well as a small amount of correspondence with Casement's cousin, Gertrude Bannister. The Center also has a copy of Queer People (1922), written by Basil Thomson, Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard, which includes several pages describing his impressions of Casement during his interrogation on Easter Sunday, 1916.
The records of PEN International, a writers' organization, consist of letters and documents dating from 1921 to 1972, including correspondence from writer-members, as well as files relating to the organization's political and social activities. The aims of PEN, as outlined on their website, are to promote literature, defend freedom of expression, and develop a community of writers worldwide. To that end PEN "acts as a powerful voice in opposing political censorship and speaking for writers harassed, imprisoned, sometimes murdered for the expression of their views." The 228 boxes of records at the Ransom Center include materials related to Writers in Exile, BLED (an international gathering organized by the Slovene PEN Centre and the Writers for Peace Committee of International PEN), the Fund for Intellectual Freedom, and the London Fund for Exiled Writers.
Writer Rupert Croft-Cooke (1903–1979) was convicted of gross indecency, like Oscar Wilde. He was one of the more notable victims of the strong police actions against homosexuals in Britain in the 1950s. The circumstances of his arrest and the details of his prison experience are given in his book The Verdict of You All (1955); further particulars of his varied life are found in his correspondence. The manuscript and papers related to the book, plus his letters, are within his archive. No finding aid is available for this collection.
The career of Terrence McNally (1939– ), the author of plays, musicals, and other works, is well documented by the drafts, scripts, correspondence, and production materials in his papers. Several of his works with homosexual characters or that explore the deepening AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s are represented in the collection, including Lisbon Traviata (1985, 1989), Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Corpus Christi (1998), the television movie Andre's Mother (1988, 1990), and others. The materials related to these works, as well as the correspondence McNally received from viewers and readers about the stories he depicts, including letters from the mothers of AIDS sufferers, may be of interest to researchers.