Retired professor of history at Morgan State University, scholar of the history of African Americans in the motion picture industry, prolific author of books and articles on the subject, and script writer. The papers of Thomas Cripps date from 1839 to 2009, and are arranged into three divisions: films, photographic stills of African American actors and productions, and professional papers, the largest group. Taken as a whole, the films, movie stills, research files, and publication files document Cripps's investigations into representations of racial and ethnic stereotypes in popular culture, particularly in film, but also touch on other issues such as gender in popular culture, portrayal of race in Nazi Germany, and the social dimensions of African American life in the U.S. during the 20th century. Other materials stem from college-level courses taught by Cripps on these same topics, and include many of the visual resources he used in his classes. Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.
The Thomas Cripps collection dates from approximately 1839 to 2009, with the bulk of the materials dating from 1940-2009, and is arranged into three main divisions: films, photographic stills of African American actors and productions, and professional papers, which is the largest group of the three (closed pending processing). The materials as a whole can be used to study a variety of themes and subjects: racial or ethnic stereotypes in popular culture (chiefly African American, but also Jewish, Irish, and Asian); American and European television culture, broadcasting, and advertising; African American artists; African American film-makers, most notably Oscar Micheaux; U.S. political and social events in the 20th century, including the Depression and the Civil Rights Movement; educational institutions for African Americans; and the teaching of African American history in U.S. higher education. There are significant research materials on Nazi Germany propaganda and the portrayal of race in the party's films.
The thirty-seven films found in the Films Series consist of film shorts, clips from feature films, newsreels, "Soundies," and television commercials, and were collected by Cripps for their portrayals of African Americans, performance by African Americans, or production by African Americans from the turn of the century into the late 1960s 1970s. He also collected filmic materials reflecting other racial and ethnic stereotypes, as seen in the Ethnic Films reel. There are viewing copies for all films.
The Still Photographs Series consists of hundreds of publicity stills and other images taken from U.S. and British feature films featuring African American actors from the silent film era through the 1970s. Many entries, which have been retained from the original envelope labels, carry titles from individual films, but other prints were arranged by Cripps into topical categories such as "Black Athletes," "Jungle Pix," "Silent Films," and "Exotic Primitives."
Cripps's professional papers, a very large group, are closed to access pending processing. They are currently loosely arranged into these series: Correspondence, Dissertation and Research, Morgan State University, Other Papers and AV Materials, Subject Files, and Writings. Beyond the topics discussed above, the materials also document grant proposals written by Cripps; his early dissertation work; coursework in a variety of settings; and his many publication projects.
Acquired as part of the Archive of Documentary Arts at Duke University.