Ruben and Dorothy Silver Karamu Collection

Reuben and Dorothy Silver were active in Karamu House, a performing arts center and theater, founded in 1915 as an interracial social settlement in Cleveland, Ohio. During their tenure, the Silvers were instrumental in presenting works by African-American authors such as Langston Hughes and LeRoi Jones, as well as classics from the American theater. Urban unrest in the community surrounding Karamu and the growing popularity of the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s and 1970s forced a reconsideration of Karamu’s goals as they related to interracial theater. During this period, Karamu endured major personnel and financial crises. After leaving Karamu, Reuben served as the chairman of Cleveland State University’s theatre department for seventeen years (1976-1993). Reuben and Dorothy remained active in the theatre community. The collection consists of advertisements, correspondence, documents, directors notes, newspaper clippings, photographs, press releases, reports, scripts, speeches and miscellaneous printed material including Karamu publications, workshop schedules, programs, and handbills. Most of the material contained in this collection is concerned with Karamu House and the Silvers’ roles there as Theater Director and Theater Assistant from 1955-1976. The collection also includes material related to finding a replacement executive director for Reuben and Reuben’s work after leaving Karamu, and letters to family members in Israel.

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