Russell and Rowena Jelliffe Photographs 

Russell W. (1891-1980) and Rowena Woodham Jelliffe (1892-1992) were social workers who in conjunction with the Second Presbyterian Church Men’s Club of Cleveland, Ohio, founded the Neighborhood Association, popularly known as the Playhouse Settlement, in 1915. Founded primarily to aid African Americans who had migrated to Cleveland from the rural South, Playhouse Settlement offered the usual social services, but gained note for its dramatic and artistic programs. In 1927 the Jelliffes acquired property which was remodeled as a theater and named the Karamu Theater. In 1941, the Settlement was renamed Karamu House. The Jelliffes shared the directorship of Karamu House until their retirement in 1963, after which they served as trustees of the Karamu Foundation. Russell Jelliffe was also an active member of the Urban League, the Cleveland Community Relations Council on Race Relations, the executive committee of the local branch of the NAACP, and the Board of the Cleveland Council of Human Relations. He was involved with the Group Work Council of the Welfare Federation and was a trustee of Oberlin College and the Cleveland Civil Liberties Union. Rowena Jelliffe was involved in the NAACP, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Urban League, the National Theatre Conference, the Board of Trustees of the Cleveland Guidance Center, and the Board of Directors of the American National Theatre and Academy. Both the Jelliffes received numerous honors and awards. The collection consists of individual portraits of Russell and Rowena Jelliffe; individual portraits of those associated with Karamu House, including teachers, instructors, and performers; group portraits that include the Jelliffes and others, including Zelma George, W. C. Handy, Langston Hughes, and Michael White; and views of play productions, instructional classes, and interior and exterior scenes at Karamu House. Also included in the collection are group portraits of the Gilpin Players and Karamu actors in performance.

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