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Courtney Thorsson
University of Oregon (Eugene, OR 97403-5219)
The Sisterhood: A Black Women's Literary Organization

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on a circle of African American women writers and how they supported one another's work and careers. The group, which included Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, and Audre Lorde, met regularly in New York in the 1970s.

"The Sisterhood and Black Women's Literary Organizing" is an interpretive cultural history of African American women writers who met in New York from 1977-1978. A photo of some of these women labeled "The Sisterhood" appears frequently online and occasionally in academic books as a source of excitement and inspiration, rarely with any context. Through archival research, I have confirmed that the group was more formal than references to it suggest: they met once a month, kept minutes, and collected dues. Writers Alice Walker and June Jordan founded the group. Members included journalists Margo Jefferson and Phyl Garland; culinary writers Vertamae Grosvenor and Jessica Harris; poets Ntozake Shange and Audre Lorde; and novelist Toni Morrison, who would go on to become the most prominent former member. I use meeting minutes, correspondence, biographies, and interviews to uncover and narrate the everyday work of The Sisterhood to secure publication and publicity for black women writers.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American Studies; American Literature; Gender Studies

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2018 – 8/31/2019