Henry T. Sampson Jr. donates collection of historical African-American culture to Jackson State University

JANS – California resident Henry T. Sampson Jr., son of the late H. T. Sampson Sr., former executive dean of Jackson State University, recently donated an expansive collection of historical materials to the university. Called the Dr. Henry T. Sampson Jr. Collection of African American Culture, the collection is the largest independently held collection of its type. It consists of original and rare silent and sound films, photographs, minstrel and movie posters, sheet music, audio and video recordings and out-of-print books. This collection relates to the historic contributions of African Americans to motion pictures, the performing arts, music, radio and television broadcasting in the U.S. between 1865 and 1970. It will be housed on the fifth floor of the campus library that bears Sampson’s father’s name.

“I donated the collection to Jackson State University in order to archive and preserve it at a permanent location so that it will be available for use by students and professors as well as outside researchers of African-American history,” Sampson said. “The materials were acquired during a period of over 40 years of my research, the results of which have been published in five books that I have authored.”

Though Sampson is credited with being the first African American in the United States to earn a doctorate degree in nuclear engineering and served as a research chemical engineer at the U.S. Naval Weapons Center in California, he is a respected writer and film historian. His works include the book, Blacks in Black and White: A Source Book on Black Films, which examines often overlooked African-American filmmakers and entertainers from the first half of the 20th century, and The Ghost Walks: A Chronological History of Blacks in Show Business, 1865-1910.

“We are extremely proud and honored to secure this historic and valuable collection of African-American materials,” said Evangeline W. Robinson, executive director of the JSU Development Foundation. “The collection will enhance study and research at Jackson State in the areas of African-American history and film, television, radio and theatre history.”

For Sampson, who was raised in Jackson, Miss., donating the collection to Jackson State was based on family ties and his knowledge of the university’s high educational achievements. “The H.T. Sampson Library, where the collection will be held, being the center of the Jackson State University’s academic research facilities, is therefore, the appropriate location to house my rare and unique collection,” added Sampson.

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