University of Pittsburgh Acquires the Extensive Archives of Playwright August Wilson

The University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh has acquired the archive of the late playwright and Pittsburgh native son August Wilson, best known for his unprecedented American Century Cycle — 10 plays that convey the Black experience in each decade of the 20th century. All 10 of the plays have had Broadway productions and two earned Wilson the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Wilson’s grandmother moved to Pittsburgh from North Carolina in 1932. August Wilson was born in 1945 and called Pittsburgh home until 1978.

Processing of the collection — more than 450 boxes of materials — will commence in early 2021. The items document a wide array of Wilson’s career and interests from the 1960s to 2010s. Included are scripts and production materials of his American Century Cycle plays, Wilson’s personal library and music collection, artwork, poetry, unpublished work including non-Cycle plays, speeches, essays, and interviews. Materials range from audio recordings, awards and degrees, books, correspondence, newspapers, and magazines to notebooks, writing tablets, photographs, posters, production designs, props, scripts, and video recordings.

Kornelia Tancheva, Hillman University Librarian and director of the University Library System, calls the August Wilson Archive “the most significant archival collection the University of Pittsburgh has acquired to date. It is an immense asset for researchers at Pitt, as well as nationally and internationally. It presents unprecedented opportunities for engagement for our students and the local community, including the local schools. The August Wilson Archive supports our mission of preserving and making accessible the cultural heritage of the region, the country, and the world, and specifically our focus on underrepresented voices and the cultural production of African American artists.”

“This exceptional archive will inform and inspire scholars everywhere for decades to come,” added Ann E. Dudd, provost and senior vice chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh. “It is the ultimate testament to August Wilson’s enormous contributions to the literary world. Growing up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the city helped to shape his brilliant creative vision. I find it particularly meaningful, then, to have the collection come home — and we are proud to house it in Hillman Library.”

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