Karamu House Collection from the Billops-Hatch Archives

The collection contains material related to the Karamu House and Theatre from 1925-2007. This artificially created collection created by James V. Hatch and Camille Billops contains correspondence, programs, play scripts, reports, clippings, and interviews related to the Karamu House and the Karamu Theatre.
The Karamu House (Cleveland, Ohio) is a neighborhood settlement that became nationally known for its dedication to interracial theater and the arts. It was founded in 1915 by two young white social workers, Rowena Jelliffe and Russell Jelliffe, with the support of the Second Presbyterian Church, but it soon was popularly known as the Playhouse Settlement. The Jelliffes began producing plays with interracial casts in 1917. In 1920, they sponsored the Dumas Dramatic Club, which was renamed the Gilpin Players, after the noted black actor Charles Gilpin in 1922. A theater was acquired adjacent to the settlement in 1927 and named “Karamu,” Swahili for “a place of joyful meeting,” a name adopted by the entire settlement in 1941.

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