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Special Collections - Black Experience

Manuscript Collections

A Manuscript Collection is a grouping of materials which focuses on an individual, group of people, or organization. Materials can include letters, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, and other memorabilia. Processed Manuscripts are stored in Special Collection's closed stacks and can be requested at the Reference Desk in our Reading Room.

Browse Finding Aids for the Manuscript Collections


  • Sinclair-Donaldson Collection. MS-247
    • The Sinclair - Donaldson Collection includes photographs and ephemera saved by Connie Sinclair, an African-American W.A.C. member who served during WWII. It consists of sepia-toned and black and white photographs taken during training and enlistment, many captioned. Among the images are official Army photos, including women in a mess hall, the Nurse Corp at Fort Huachuca, and Native American soldiers at the same location. Also contained within this collection are military pins, patches, and insignia, including the Pallas Athene and Sinclair’s dog tag; a W.A.C. song book from 1944; and Sinclair’s Service Recognition certificate. Two Service Club scrapbooks from the 1950’s are contained in this collection from Sinclair’s time as director. Also, family photographs, a family record book, letters, poetry, and newspaper clippings from the 50’s and 80’s.

A sampling of photographs from the Sinclair-Donaldson Collection can be found on GettDigital


African American soldiers with missilesMS-247: Sinclair-Donaldson Papers

Photographs and Scrapbooks

  • Courtland Madison, 184th Field Artillery Battalion, Scrapbook. SPOV-002
    • Tipped-in photos include multiple shots of Madison dressed in uniform as well as both informal and professional shots of some of his fellow black soldiers—many apparently taken in France (perhaps after the end of the war). Some of the images show the black servicemen holding pistols and wearing knives; in one, a private poses defensively with a bottle of champagne poised atop a helmet at his feet, seemingly guarding his liquor. Candid shots of the men at their army base in Fort Custer show them enjoying themselves in their downtime, with their pitched tents and barracks often in the background. The men are pictured in groups smiling and laughing; jokingly pointing guns at each other and brandishing hatchets; playing the mandolin; playing catch; smoking pipes, and so on. Several non-military images appear to capture Madison’s family and friends, and include various well-dressed women. The subject in one photo is a French woman, who is identified as Delphine. Other images show African Americans in city environments. One image of a black serviceman is inscribed, “With love Ishmael." 

A sampling of photographs from Courtland Madison Scrapbook can be found on GettDigital