Alex Haley Papers
Scope and Contents
The Alex Haley papers consists of manuscripts including those from his time with the Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life Magazine and Kiwanis Magazine; correspondence, photographs, record albums, and other materials documenting Alex Haley's literary career. The papers also includes fan mail during the popularity of the book and the subsequent television series "Roots", and photographs in Gambia.
Conditions Governing Access
The AleX Haley Papers are open for research.
Biographical / Historical
Alex Murray Palmer Haley was born on August 11, 1921 in Ithaca, New York. He lived with his maternal grandmother in Henning, Tennessee. As a young adult, Haley entered the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939 and was in active service for 20 years. He began his career in writing by composing his shipmates' love letters to their sweethearts.During this time Haley created "The Seafearer", which became the official Coast Guard newsletter. Haley later attained the title of Chief Petty Officer which he kept until his retirement and was the first Chief Journalist in the Coast Guard, the rating having been expressly created for him in recognition of his literary ability.
After his time in the service, Haley became a journalist and wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, Readers' Digest and Playboy Magazine. He interviewed notable figures such as Cassius Clay ( Muhammad Ali), Martin Luther King Jr., Miles Davis, and the head of the Nazi American Party George Lincoln Rockwell, in 1962. His interview of Malcolm X was followed by the book The Autobiography of Malcolm X in 1965.
While growing up in Tennessee, Haley’s childhood was filled with stories of his African ancestor, Kunta Kinte, and how he came to the United States. It was from these oral histories that Haley decided to research his African roots. Haley succeeded in locating the origin of Kunta Kinte, in the village of Juffure in Gambia.
Haley spent years of research to complete the book ROOTS in 1976. The book describes Haley’s ancestors coming from Africa to North America as slaves and their descendants. ROOTS gained Haley international success, he won a Pulitzer Prize and the book was printed in countless languages and sold around the world. In 1977 ROOTS the mini-series was the third highest rated television program of all time; and generated an increasing interest in genealogical research a throughout the United States.
70 Hollinger Boxes
Language of Materials
The Alex Haley papers consists of manuscripts including those from his time with the Saturday Evening Post, Boy's Life Magazine and Kiwanis Magazine. The collection also includes correspondence, photographs, record albums, and other materials documenting Alex Haley's professional and personal life. Fan mail during the popularity of the book and the subsequent television series "Roots", as well as photographs of Alex Haley are also included.
The collection is arranged into six subject related series, in addtiton to three dimensional objects listed as items.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Alex Haley Papers was purchased by Broward County Library on September 26, 2001 from the Heritage Book Shop Inc. The Heritage Bindery acquired the papers from the Alex Haley estate auction in 1992.
This collection received container level processing. This finding aid may be updated to reflect new descriptions as well as acquisitions to the collection.
- Alex Haley Papers
- January 2021
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