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Beaver Library collection offers 600 African-American autobiographies

1/28/2013 —

The African-American Autobiography Collection, located at Penn State Beaver Library and honoring Russell C. Brignano, professor emeritus of English, contains more than 600 African-American autobiographies. The book titles in the collection represent a variety of professions and experiences. They include "Mirror to America" by renowned scholar and historian John Hope Franklin, the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jackie Robinson's life story in "I Never Had It Made," "Brother Ray: Ray Charles' Own Story" and famous poet Nikki Giovanni's "Sacred Cows and Other Edibles."
The collection can be viewed in The CAT, the online catalog, by using the Advanced Search feature and indicating under "In Library" -- "Penn State Beaver" and under "Location" -- "Beaver-African-American Autobiography." All titles are available for delivery to any Penn State library location via the "I want It" button in The CAT.
Brignano, who is now retired, is a recognized scholar of African-American autobiography. The prime force behind the collection, he helped to develop it and donated many of his own books. In 1990, the Penn State Equal Opportunity Planning Committee gave $5,000 to support book purchase, and the collection continues to grow with acquisitions through the Libraries monograph fund and donor support. The collection enhances awareness of the importance of this literature and allows the campus to offer courses designed to explore African-American contributions to literature, the arts and society.
Brignano, a member of the English Department at Penn State from 1975 to 1996, taught composition and rhetoric, and American and African-American literature and humanities. He also has pursued scholarly research into baseball literature, a personal passion. The author of numerous articles, bibliographies and book reviews, Brignano is the author of two books: "Richard Wright: An Introduction to the Man and His Works" and "Black Americans in Autobiography: An Annotated Bibliography of Autobiographies and Autobiographical Books Written Since the Civil War."
For more information, contact Marty Goldberg, head librarian, Beaver Library, at mxg35@psu.edu or call 724-773-3791.

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