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Dorothy Porter Wesley Collection

Identifier: 2003.6

Scope and Contents

The Dorothy Porter Wesley Collection contains manuscript materials, clippings, research files, corresspondence and books documenting Afro-Brazilian, African American, and Afro-Caribbean history and culture. The collection also contains manuscript material including photographs, newspapers, and correspondence documenting the professional life of librarian and bibliophile, Dorothy Porter Wesley.


  • Circa 1905-1995

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Biographical / Historical

Dorothy Burnett Porter Wesley (1905-1995) was a librarian, curator and bibliophile, born on May 25, 1905 in Warrenton, Virginia. Her parents were physician, Hayes Joseph Burnett and tennis player Roberta ("Bertha") Ball Burnett. Wesley was the eldest of four children and grew up in Montclair, New Jersey. She graduated from Miner Normal School, Washington D.C. in 1925 with the intention of becoming a teacher. Wesley worked as a library assistant in the Miner Normal School library where she worked with librarian Lula V. Allan who encouraged her to pursue a career in library science. Wesley enrolled in Howard University in 1926 and received a BA in 1928. After graduation from Howard University in 1928, Wesley began work as a fulltime librarian at Howard University. In 1928 Wesley enrolled at Colombia University's School of Library Science where she received a Master's in Library Science in 1931. In 1930, Wesley began work as curator of the Moorland Foundation, now known as the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, at Howard University and worked to build collections documenting African, African American, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-hispanic history and culture. Wesley worked at the Moorland Spingarn Research Center until her retirement in 1973. After retirement, Wesley worked as a consultant for a variety of insitutions and foundations. Books authored by Dorothy Porter Wesley include Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837 (1971), and Afro-Braziliana: A Working Bibliography (1978). Wesley married artist and art history professor James Amos Porter (1905-1970) and had a daughter, Constance Porter Uzelac (1939-2012). After James Porter's death in 1970, she married former Wilberforce University president and African American historian, Charles Harris Wesley in 1979. Dorothy worked with Charles on a variety of projects including research for a bibliography on abolitionist William Cooper Nell until Charles's death in 1987. William Cooper Nell, Nineteenth-Century African American Abolitionist, Historian, Integrationist: Selected Writings 1832-1874 (2002) was later published by Constance Porter Uzelac in 2001. Dorothy Porter Wesley died in Broward County, Florida in 1995.


150 Hollinger Boxes

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into seven series: Series I. Correspondence, Series II. Professional Papers, Series III. Research Files, Series IV. Personal Papers, Series V. Photographs, Series VI. Printed Materials, and Series VII. Ephemera.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Collection donated by Constance Porter Uzelac.

Processing Information

This collection received container level processing. This finding aid may be updated to reflect new descriptions as well as acquisitions to the collection.

Dorothy Porter Wesley Collection
In Progress
Afua Ferdnance ; Emily Calderon
July 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for uncoded script

Repository Details

Part of the African American Research Library and Cultural Center Repository

2650 Sistrunk Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale Florida 33311 United States