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College Language Association collection

 Collection — Box: 1-60
Identifier: 0000-0000-0000-0032

Scope and contents

The records of the College Language Association include administrative correspondence, bibliographies, minutes, reports, financial statements, presentations, presidential addresses, press releases, programs, lists, constitutions, publications, literary submissions, photographs and memorabilia preserving one of America's largest, long-standing African American academic organizations.


  • Creation: 1925-1990


Historical note

In 1937, a Lemoyne College professor named Hugh M. Gloster, through correspondence with Gladstone Lewis CHandler, a colleague at Morehouse College, discussed the low-level English proficiency among students at their respective colleges. Gloster believed these problems were commonplace among Negro students, and engaged other English teachers at predominately private "Negro" colleges and universities to form an association which would address the problem from its origins to its current state. In 1937, eight men and women met at LeMoyne and formed the Association of Teachers of English in Negro Colleges (ATENC).

In 1941, the Association broadened its objective to formally include the teaching of literature and foreign language, thus changing its name to the Association of Teachers of Languages in Negro Colleges (ATLNC).

In 1949, the ATLNC officially became the College Language Association (CLA). Since its inception, the CLA developed its constitution, has held annual meetings at host institutions, published a variety of publications - "The News-Bulletin", "Bulletin of the CLA", "CLA Bulletin", "CLA Journal", "CLA Newsletter" and "CLA Notes", and has had active committees, with membership ranks steadily increasing. The CLA continued building upon their objectives stated in the 1941 Constitution: 1) improving the study and teaching of language skills, 2) cultivating the appreciation of literature, and 3) sharing each other's productive interest to the group.

Significant contributions from long standing members includes (but is not limited to) John Frederick Matheus (whose papers constitute a series in the CLA collection), Therman O'Daniel, Lucy Clemmons Grigsby, A. Russell Brooks, Darwin Turner, Charles A. Ray and Nick Aaron Ford.

Carolyn Fowler, author of "The College Language Association: A Social History:, apttly described the great value in studying the CLA in her "Proposal to Research the History of the College Language Association":

Black intellectuals and professionals in the United States have come together in conferences to voice their concerns from their particular perspective. This process began before Emancipation and has continued through the present. It is through the study of such organizations that much of Black intellectual history can most profitably be written.

Fowler goes on to note the significance of CLA's history, and how vital it is to today's and future literary and foreign language scholars to have access to the labors of their predecessors. The rich tradition of Black intellectual history is incomplete without the records of CLA. The debates, the studies, scholarly works, minutes, correspondence, convention records, publications and other archival matter produced by the CLA is testament to the on-going conversation intra- and internationally about the value of literature and language in the African American community.


25.0 Linear feet

Language of Materials



The collection is arranged into eight series: Administrative correspondence; Annual convention; Standing and ad hoc committees; Archives Committee; Publications; Constitution; Literary submissions; and the John Frederick Matheus collection.

College Language Association collection, 1925-1990
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Robert W. Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, Inc. Repository


404-978-2109 (Fax)