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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Heart and Soul!: The Ellis B. Haizlip Papers

This summer I had the pleasure of reorganizing the Ellis B. Haizlip Papers at the Anacostia Community Museum. The papers, accumulated by Haizlip throughout his adult life, tell the true story of Haizlip's fascinating life as a television producer and of a variety of American social and cultural interests during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Rehoused Haizlip materials.  Photography by Leanna Duncan

Ellis B. Haizlip worked on shows such as Soul!, a variety show featuring notable African-Americans from entertainers to artists to political figures, and Watch Your Mouth!, an educational sitcom designed to encourage an acceptance and appreciation of both diversity and formal English language usage in teenage viewers. He also produced plays and other live events, such as tributes and award ceremonies, and was involved with dozens of political, cultural, and community organizations, including a diverse spread of groups working for racial and LGBT equality. Documents relating to these interests are plentiful within the collection.

Photography by Leanna Duncan
Above is a 1982 flyer calling for a demonstration against a violent attack on Blue’s, a Black gay bar. Notably, the flyer asserts that the attack was motivated by both racism and anti-lesbian/gay sentiment. It cannot be ascertained from the documents whether Haizlip attended this demonstration, or was merely informed of it.

This envelope is part of Haizlip's Stamp collection.  Photography by Leanna Duncan
The program below is from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, of which Haizlip was a board member. It is autographed by Betty Ford. Other notable programs in the collection include a playbill signed by a very young Denzel Washington and one featuring short biographies of Al Pacino and James Earl Jones before they became the household names they are today.

Photography by Leanna Duncan
Besides programs, the collection also features other printed materials, including newsletters and magazines. Additionally, there are many newspaper and magazine clippings dealing with a variety of issues of interest to Haizlip, including South African politics and apartheid, music (ranging from Bob Marley to Duke Ellington to Cindy Lauper), and various domestic columns offering up pot roast recipes and interior decorating trends. The variety of topics addressed in the texts offer up both a picture of the things that interested Haizlip and a fascinating cross-section of the U.S. media landscape in the 1970s and 1980s.

I had a wonderful time exploring the Ellis B. Haizlip Papers and hope that researchers will enjoy them as much as I did!

Leanna Duncan
2013 Summer Intern
Anacostia Community MuseumArchives

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