Inside the Milberg Gallery: Sites of Memory - Genealogies of Black Feminism

The following is the fifth in a series of inside looks at the current exhibition in Princeton University Library’s Ellen and Leonard Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library - “Toni Morrison: Sites of Memory.” 

Curated by Autumn Womack, René Boatman, Jennifer Garcon, Kierra Duncan and Andrew Schlager, the exhibition documents Morrison’s creative process through her research materials, manuscript drafts, day planners, and correspondence. 

Morrison’s impatience with the women’s liberation movement reached its public pitch in a 1971 essay for the New York Times. Though titled “What the Black Woman Thinks About Women’s Lib,” in it Morrison worries if the very category of “the” Black woman can exist without disavowing, ignoring all those unaligned desires and divergent positions which make women different from each other. A category, she worries, encourages “lump thinking,” but without one would thinking ever reach its publics? By locating Black feminism’s particular meaning to Morrison in a sampling of letters she exchanged with other Black women across the 1980s and 1990s, this section affirms Morrison and her addressees inventing themselves differently, and in correspondence, figuring out where and when they fit together, and on what grounds.

Select letters from Toni Cade Bambara to Toni Morrison, circa 1980s. From Toni Morrison Papers at Princeton University Library

Select letters from Toni Cade Bambara to Toni Morrison, circa 1980s. Toni Morrison Papers, Special Collections Princeton University Library. Photographer: Brandon Johnson

The exhibition is open through June 4, 2023 at the Milberg Gallery in Firestone Library. Please visit the website to view the gallery’s opening hours and for information about how to visit.

Discover more through the Discovering Toni Morrison Digital Princeton University Library Portal.

Published May 25, 2023.

Media Contact: Barbara Valenza, Director of Library Communications