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Harold Wright Cruse Papers

Identifier: aarl99-001

Scope and Contents

The Harold Wright Cruse Papers hold the documents, correspondences, photographs, and ephemeral materials of scholar and writer Harold Wright Cruse. This collection consists of twelve series: Personal Papers, Correspondence, University of Michigan, Harold Wright Cruse Writings, Speaking Engagments, Organizations, Research Files, Ephemera, Writings by Others, Printed and Published Materials, Photographs, and Audiovisual. The Personal Papers consist of materials that span from Cruse's career as a journalist and film technician to his monumental trip to Cuba. The remaining series cover Cruse's time as a lecturer and scholar at various institutions and organizations.

The Ephemera collection holds personal and professional materials that relate to Cruse's family, friends and professional acquaintances. The Photographs collection holds photographs ranging from the 1940s to the 1990s of Cruse inside and outside of the classroom, family, friends, and contemporaries.


  • Majority of material found within 1940 - 1999

Conditions Governing Use

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction. Restrictions apply as indicated. Audio-visual material does not include access copies for part or all of the material. Researchers will need to consult with staff before requesting audio-visual material.

Biographical / Historical

Harold Wright Cruse, was born March 8, 1916 in Petersburg, VA to Hanson Cruse and Katie (Thomas).Raised in Harlem, New York, from the age of five, Cruse was educated in the public schools of Queens and Manhattan. In 1941 Cruse served in the US Army during World War II, he was deployed to North Africa, Italy, and the British Isles.

After WWII Cruse went on to receive his certification from the Brooklyn Film Institute, which trained him to become a film technician. In the 1950s Cruse wrote many plays, potential novels, short stories, and articles, many of which he submitted to reputable publications. Having been a literary and drama critic for the Daily Worker, a newspaper of the Communist Party USA and a co-founder of the Black Arts Theatre and School in Harlem, NY with LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka), Cruse gained notoriety for his critique of Afro-American culture and politics and what he viewed as appropriation of Afro-American culture.

Cruse who was self-educated wrote an influential book titled "The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual," which during the mid-1960s and 1970s was popular during the height of black nationalism and the push for black studies programs in colleges and universities nationwide. With the popularity of this title, Cruse was hired to teach at the University of Michigan where he became one of the first African American professors to gain tenure. Cruse taught at the University of Michigan from 1968 to 1984, and he continued to guest lecture at various institutions well into the 1990s.

Cruse died on March 25, 2005, of congestive heart failure, he was survived by his wife Mara Julius, and his two sisters: Shirley Toke and Catherine Jones both of Virginia.


129.5 Linear Feet