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Hughes Allison Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MG Allison-(Main)

Scope and Contents

The contents of the collection are as follows:

Box 1: a folder entitled "Playbills and Theater Programs" consists mostly of material on New York productions, but also includes a program for a concert by Kirsten Flagstad at the Mosque Theatre (December 21, 1938) and the "Symphony Magazine" of the Essex County Symphony Society, Stadium Festival Concerts series (June 1940), announcing the program for the first concert, which featured Marian Anderson (June 3, 1940); a small folder of clippings relating to race relations (1948-1967); a copy of "New Jersey Highlights," published by the WPA of NJ, with an article on the construction of Newark Airport, and an article on the Federal Theatre Project located at 1060 Broadway in Newark (March-April 1937); several folders of clippings, including a "New Jersey Herald News" article by Allison regarding the Newark Library's banning of "anti-Negro" children's literature (August 11, 1951) and many items relating to "The Trial of Dr. Beck" (1937-1941, 1969); correspondence, including fan letters (1937, 1946-1948); 2 folders of photographs, including photographs of Harry Posey in uniform, taken in Newark (ca. 1940-1945); and Allison's daily diary with occasional entries (1968)

Box 2: contains early family photographs, including daguerreotypes and cartes-de-visite; an envelope containing notes, addresses, and phone numbers, some of which appear to be regarding a dispute with the Newark Housing Authority (ca. 1966-1970); several notebooks, including one with notes of conversations with Newark Public Library officials regarding "anti-Negro" literature (1951); an address book; a daily calendar, with notations of appointments (1970); copies of a program and study guide for "Trouble in the Mind," by Alice Childress, which was presented at the NPL (Feb-Mar 1998); copies of the Negro Digest (1949); a copy of The Challenge, published in Boston (Spring 1935); a pamphlet from the New Jersey Department of Education, Division Against Discrimination (1954-1955); a folder with a copy of a formal complaint, and a small amount of correspondence regarding the curtailment of services at the Springfield Branch of the NPL (1962-1963), and a cv of Elitea Buckley Allison (ca. 1980s).

Box 3: contains a Barringer High School yearbook, "Tabard Inn," with notes and signatures of teachers and students (1930); an Upsala College yearbook, "The Upsalite," (1931, Allison's freshman year); 4 CDs of an interview with Hughes (undated); family photographs, most unidentified, and school photographs from Greenville, South Carolina (1896-1897, and undated) including a daguerreotype of a child

Box 4: contains a folder of correspondence, documents, photographs, clippings, 2 cassette tapes, and other materials regarding the designation of 15 Wallace Street, the Allisons' home, as a site for urban renewal (1967-1975); a folder of family correspondence and ephemera including Hughes' eighth grade report card (1919-1974); 4 folders of printed material, including a copy of "Metropolis," published in Newark (December 1934); Negro Digest with "Imposture," by Allison (March 1949); three issues of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, with stories by Allison (1948-1949); and a few copies of True Story, and Challenge: A Literary Quarterly, among other items.

Box 5: contains 1 folder of correspondence, which includes letters regarding various writing projects in which Allison was involved, including "It's Midnight Over Newark" (1941, 1974); 2 folders of clippings, a flyer, and program of Allison's play "It's Midnight Over Newark," performed at the Mosque Theatre (May 23, 1941); 5 folders of material related to "The Trial of Dr. Beck" including flyers, programs, and a photographs of Hughes and Elitea Allison at the 1969 performance (1937, 1969); clippings (1937, 1981); correspondence, including contracts (1937-1938, 1969-1974); reviews (1937); and other production-related documents (1937, 1980-1981); 1 folder of articles regarding or mentioning Allison's work; 1 folder of materials from an NPL exhibit contains the manuscript of "The Trial of Dr. Beck," with annotations; 2 letters from H. A. Josephson regarding productions of "The Trial of Dr. Beck" (1937); a photograph of Allison as a child; 3 photographs of cast members and others in involved in "Beck," etc.

Box 6: includes 3 folders of correspondence: 1.) Incoming and outgoing correspondence with editors and others, including copies of manuscripts and project proposals (1932-1958, 1986), and letters to and from Countee Cullen (1937-1945); 2.) General correspondence (1938-1995), including correspondence regarding WPA writing projects (1938-1939) and employment (1944); correspondence with Countee Cullen regarding a joint writing project (1944); and 3.) Personal and family correspondence, including letters between his parents, Aesop P. Allison and Jennie Hughes Allison and correspondence between Hughes and Elitea Allison (ca. 1904-1950s). A folder of Allison's manuscripts contains short stories, "Stranger than Fiction," and "The Adventures of Joe Hill: Corollary and Imposture"; radio scripts "Samson and Delilah," and untitled; "Bound in Brown," an early collection of poetry, with drawings; an article, "Of Bigger, Richard and Me" that was rejected by the New York Times (1942); and the play, "It's Midnight over Newark." Another folder contains notes on a hearing regarding school segregation and discrimination (1954), among other material; a notebook with dialogue between Joe Hill and others; a synopsis of a story; and research information regarding "Negro plays" from the WPA (1938).

Box 7: contains a folder labeled "Inter-racial Council of Newark," with a preliminary report, by Allison, "On Discrimination against Negro Physicians at the Newark City Hospital" and related materials (1940-1941); a folder of minutes and meeting material of the Citizens Committee for Inter-racial Unity," with a proposal for a "Constitutional and Revision Law re: Discrimination against Negroes and other Minority Groups in New Jersey" (1943); a folder with minutes, notes, by-laws, and other material related to the Negro Community Council (ca. 1943); and a folder with material relating to Councilman Irvine I. Turner, including statements by Allison supporting Turner (1953-1960); a folder labeled "African American Cultural material" contains a statement "Concerning Conditions Affecting the Negro Population of the City of Newark" (ca. 1940s), a report on conditions in the Third Ward, prepared by the Essex County Prosecutor's Office (1943), and the program of a Public Press Conference sponsored by the New Jersey Herald News (1951); a folder with 2 manuscripts by Countee Cullen; a folder with 2 True Story radio scripts (1936-1937) and 2 manuscripts by others; a folder with 3 Christmas cards from Veronica Paichu Johns; and a notebook with brief drafts for short stories and notes regarding urban renewal as it affected the Allisons

Box 8: consists of a folder of clippings, including articles on Allison's writings and his activism, and some biographical information (1940-1974); a folder labeled "Mystery Writers of America," containing correspondence regarding writing projects and other matters, and membership materials (ca. 1948-1966); a folder labeled "Miscellaneous," with editorial correspondence, personal documents, and notes (1937-1974). Folder "Allison found 2019" contains Flier for the Trial of Dr. Beck at Henry St. Playhouse, Flier for Mass Meeting Against Race Discrimination Hiring Doctors at City Hospital (Jul 2, 1945).

Oversize Box: An unnumbered "Kodak" box contains three oversize photographs: 1 production photograph of "The Trial of Dr. Beck," with negative; and 2 school group photographs of the Bergen Street School, with Allison in the back row (1924). Also included is a copy of Collier's magazine.

Oversize Photograph File: contains 3 photographs of Allison, 1 of Elitea Buckley Allison, and 3 related to Allison's play "The Trial of Dr. Beck"

NOTE: See also the Cummings New Jersey Information Center's collection, MG Nwk, Newark Associations Collection, Box 3, for copies of WPA radio scripts by Hughes Allison.


  • 1930 - 1981

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.

Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.

Biographical / Historical

Hughes Allison (1908-1974), author, playwright, and journalist, was born in Greenville, North Carolina, but moved to Newark with his family in 1919. In Newark his mother, Jennie Hughes Allison, became the executive secretary of the Sojourner Truth Branch of the YWCA, and his father, Aesop Patrick Allison, worked in the insurance business. Allison was a student at Bergen Street Grammar School, graduated from Barringer High School, and attended Upsala College. In 1940 Allison married Elitea ("Lee") Buckley (b. 1913), a children's librarian at the Newark Public Library.

Allison's first published work was a short story that appeared in Challenge Magazine in 1935. He later became a regular contributor to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, and True Story; and created over 2,000 radio scripts, some of which were written with his mentor, William Gordon Rapp. Over the years Allison also wrote for the National Service Bureau, the New Jersey WPA Information Service Bureau, and the New Jersey Writers Project. In 1937 the Federal Theatre produced, in Newark, Allison's play, "The Trial of Dr. Beck," which subsequently moved to Broadway. In 1941 Allison's "It's Midnight in Newark," a dramatization of the lack of African-American doctors and nurses in Newark Hospitals, opened at the Mosque Theatre. In the 1950s Allison wrote a series of articles for the Newark Evening News regarding school segregation in southern New Jersey.

Allison and his wife lived at 15 Wallace Street in Newark for many years. In the 1970s, as a result of an urban renewal initiative, their neighborhood was deemed blighted and their home was among many scheduled for demolition. The Allisons fought this decision, but were unsuccessful in saving the building.


3.36 Linear Feet (9 boxes and 1 oversize file of photographs)

Language of Materials