Dr. Janelle Hobson interviews Dr. McClaurin about “Curating History” and Building a Legacy with the Black Feminist Archive


 Spring 2018 

women’s studies/LEGACY

Irma McClaurin’s new Black Feminist Archive offers activists the chance to determine their own legacy.

By Janelle Hobson

Success EASILY FOLLOWS IRMA McClaurin, black feminist activist, anthropologist, poet,  leader, mentor and professor. A recent recipient of an award by the National Women’s Studies Association–an organization she helped transform into a shining example of women-of-color leadership, scholarship and activism–McClaurin is now committed to transforming history with the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive, a collection she has spearheaded at her alma mater, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

“I’m in good company,” McClaurin says, noting that the papers of famed African American scholar W.E.B. Du Bois are included in the special collection at Amherst, donated by his widow, Shirley Graham Du Bois.  This library “looks at the whole life of a person.  They don’t just collect the work of Du Bois but also the women who were part of his life.”

It is the documentation and preservation of whole lives that motivates McClaurin to build on what she began with the Black Feminist Anthropology. Edited by McClaurin, this collection created a legacy of black women working in the field of anthropology, from Zora Neale Hurston to her own scholarship.  She is now seeking materials from black feminist activists and ordinary black women to comprise the archive at Amherst.

Read the entire interview in the Spring 2018 of Ms. Magazine.