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Wooden clapper from the Cotton Club promoting Ethel Waters

The Cotton Club was Harlem’s premier nightclub in the 1920s and 1930s. While the performers were black, the club only permitted white audiences. In 1933, singer Ethel Waters accompanied by the Duke Ellington Orchestra introduced Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler’s song "Stormy Weather." Her rendition received rave reviews and prompted Irving Berlin to cast her in his musical revue, “As Thousands Cheer,” making her the first African American woman to receive top billing with her white co-stars on Broadway. Objects such as clappers and knockers were commonly found in nightclubs. They were used to make noise or acknowledge a great performance and could also be taken home as souvenirs from the evening.

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12 Total Pages 5 Contributing Members

Mastering notes for the album Things Fall Apart by The Roots

One of the most influential hip-hop groups of this generation is The Roots. Their mixture of jazz and electronic music with live instruments was unique in hip-hop. The Roots’ frontman Questlove wrote these six pages of notes for the group’s fourth album, "Things Fall Apart," showcasing his talents as a producer and songwriter. Recorded from 1997-1999 at the Electric Lady Studios, "Things Fall Apart" steered The Roots in new musical directions and helped raise public awareness on many social issues. Help us transcribe and discover Questlove’s creative thought process as he created this amazing musical composition.

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1 Total Pages 4 Contributing Members

Bottle tag from the Cotton Club

The Cotton Club was Harlem’s premier nightclub in the 1920s and 1930s during the Prohibition Era. The club featured many of the greatest African American entertainers of the era, including Count Basie, Ella Fitzgerald, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, and Ethel Waters. However, while the performers were black, the club only permitted white audiences. Nonetheless, the Cotton Club launched the careers of many African American performers including Fletcher Henderson, who led the first house band in 1923, and Duke Ellington, whose orchestra was the house band from 1927 to 1931. Cab Calloway's orchestra took over for Ellington’s group in 1931 and Jimmie Lunceford’s band followed in 1934. Lena Horne began her career as a chorus girl at the Cotton Club and Bill “Bojangles” Robinson and Sammy Davis Jr. performed as tap dancers. Help us transcribe this bottle tag, which highlights the role of night clubs during the Prohibition Era.

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7 Total Pages 60 Contributing Members

James Brown Guitar

This Epiphone guitar owned by James Brown is signed on all four sides and features messages of praise, thanks, and birthday wishes by notable people including Casey Kasem and Ozzy Osbourne. Transcription of the messages and signatures on Brown’s guitar will help Museum staff update their records with a list of all of the artists that signed the guitar and will allow interested researchers to more easily locate information about this iconic artist. We hope you enjoy transcribing this object and we can’t wait to find out who else left messages for James Brown! Please indicate basic location information- ex. [front, top], [right side, bottom], etc. Don’t worry if messages are duplicated in the photos. Transcribe what you will see and we will clean it up on our end! Example: Front, Top: Howie H More than music to the man (Mr. James Brown) Happy B and many more!

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2 Total Pages 5 Contributing Members

Poster advertising Marlon Riggs In Person!

Marlon T. Riggs (1957 – 1994) was an award winning filmmaker, artist, educator, and gay rights activist. Before dying from AIDS-related complications at age 37, Riggs wrote, produced, and directed eight films and videos. A tenured professor at University of California - Berkely, Riggs was also a scholar interested in identity, politics, censorship, African American cultural production, and documentary film practice. His films addressed questions of cultural memory and race relations in America as well as exploring personal topics such as sexuality and his HIV status. In a celebration of the life of Marlon Riggs and LGBTQ Pride Month, help us transcribe these selections from a collection of artifacts related to Marlon Riggs donated by his former life partner, Jack Vincent. For more information, check out NMAAHC's web portal to explore LGBTQ+ Objects in the NMAAHC Collection.

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2 Total Pages 7 Contributing Members

Poster for A Series of Events Endangered: Art and Performance by Men of Color

Marlon T. Riggs (1957 – 1994) was an award winning filmmaker, artist, educator, and gay rights activist. Before dying from AIDS-related complications at age 37, Riggs wrote, produced, and directed eight films and videos. A tenured professor at University of California - Berkely, Riggs was also a scholar interested in identity, politics, censorship, African American cultural production, and documentary film practice. His films addressed questions of cultural memory and race relations in America as well as exploring personal topics such as sexuality and his HIV status. In a celebration of the life of Marlon Riggs and LGBTQ Pride Month, help us transcribe these selections from a collection of artifacts related to Marlon Riggs donated by his former life partner, Jack Vincent. For more information, check out NMAAHC's web portal to explore LGBTQ+ Objects in the NMAAHC Collection.

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2 Total Pages 5 Contributing Members

Poster advertising the AIDS Memorial Quilt events

Marlon T. Riggs (1957 – 1994) was an award winning filmmaker, artist, educator, and gay rights activist. Before dying from AIDS-related complications at age 37, Riggs wrote, produced, and directed eight films and videos. A tenured professor at University of California - Berkely, Riggs was also a scholar interested in identity, politics, censorship, African American cultural production, and documentary film practice. His films addressed questions of cultural memory and race relations in America as well as exploring personal topics such as sexuality and his HIV status. In a celebration of the life of Marlon Riggs and LGBTQ Pride Month, help us transcribe these selections from a collection of artifacts related to Marlon Riggs donated by his former life partner, Jack Vincent. For more information, check out NMAAHC's web portal to explore LGBTQ+ Objects in the NMAAHC Collection.

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156 Total Pages 131 Contributing Members

Rouzee Family Papers

This collection of financial papers relate to the plantation operations of several generations of the Rouzee Family in Essex County, Virginia. The papers date from the 1790s through 1860.

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2 Total Pages 3 Contributing Members

Letter to Paul Kalmanovitz from the Musicians' Protective Association

Known as “America’s Greatest Sepia Piano Player” and the “Brown Bomber of Sophisticated Songs,” Gladys Bentley (12 August 1907 – 18 January 1960) was an American blues pianist, singer, and performer during the Harlem Renaissance. An African American lesbian, Bentley performed regularly in gay clubs in New York and Los Angeles while dressed in men's clothes. This letter requests payment for Gladys Bentley from the owner of a nightclub in Hollywood. At the bottom is the owner's response that Bentley's performance did not take place due to a police raid that shutdown the club alleging an "indecent performance" was taking place. Regarding a performance in 1947, this letter heralds the beginning of the McCarthy era, during which homosexuals were aggressively persecuted. By 1950, Bentley had stopped crossdressing and wrote an article claiming she had "cured" her lesbianism. In honor of Bentley and LGBTQ Pride Month, help us transcribe this artifact documenting a significant time in LGBTQ+ histories. For more information, check out NMAAHC's web portal to explore LGBTQ+ Objects in the NMAAHC Collection.

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309 Total Pages 34 Contributing Members

“The Girl Graduate – Her Own Book”

Transcribe “The Girl Graduate – Her Own Book” and help us to learn more about Marjorie P. Collins. Collins assembled this scrapbook commemorating her time at Prairie View College (now Prairie View A&M University) in Prairie View, Texas. In 1925, Collins graduated from Prairie View and was elected to become a teacher at the Almeda Road Junior High School, in Houston, Texas. She also worked closely with the National Council of Negro Women. Beyond those facts, we know very little about Collins. With your help, perhaps we can discover more about Collins within in the 190 pages of newspaper clippings, photographs, hand-written entries, printed programs, ribbons, and correspondence relating to her life.

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