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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.
Archival processing of the Robert L. Russell Interview with John Mason Brewer was made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
|Abstract||Audio recordings of a biographical interview with John Mason Brewer (1896-1975), a Black folklorist known for his work on African American tales and folklore, who was born in Texas. Recorded by Robert L. Russell in March 1967 at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. The collection also contains supporting documentation, including field collection cover sheets prepared by former library staff. Supporting documentation indicates that the interview was conducted for an article that Russell wrote on Brewer.|
|Creator||Russell, Robert L.|
|Curatorial Unit||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Folklife Collection.|
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Little is known about Robert L. Russell, who was presumably a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student when he recorded his interview with John Mason Brewer.
John Mason Brewer, Black folklorist, son of J. H. and Minnie T. Brewer, was born in Goliad, Tex., on 24 March 1896. His sister, Stella Brewer Brooks, an authority on Joel Chandler Harris and the Uncle Remus tales, shared his interest in folklore. His mother Minnie was an influence to her children's educational pursuits, having taught in the public schools of Texas for fifty years. Brewer attended the Black public schools in Austin and in 1917 received a B.A. from Wiley College in Marshall. He joined the army in 1918, became a corporal, and spent a year in France as an interpreter (he spoke French, Spanish, and Italian). He then returned to a career as a teacher and principal in Fort Worth. He eventually moved from secondary schools to colleges. He was working for an oil company in Denver, Colo., when he began writing stories and poems, first for the company trade journal and later for a monthly journal called The American Negro. In 1926 he was a professor at Samuel Huston (now Huston-Tillotson) College in Austin, where he met University of Texas professor J. Frank Dobie, who influenced him to turn from publishing his own poetry to collecting and publishing Black folklore. In 1950 Brewer received an M.A. from Indiana University, and in 1951 an honorary doctorate from Paul Quinn College in Waco. John Mason Brewer was the first Black member of the Texas Folklore Society and published in six of its annual volumes. He became the first Black member of the Texas Institute of Letters in 1954, after being chosen one of twenty-five best Texas authors by Theta Sigma Phi, for The Word on the Brazos: Negro Preacher Tales from the Brazos Bottoms of Texas, and also was the first Black member of the American Folklore Society to serve as vice president for the society. He received grants for research from the American Philosophical Society, the Piedmont University Center for the Study of Negro Folklore, the Library of Congress, the National Library of Mexico, and the National University of Mexico. Brewer's publications include The Word on the Brazos, Aunt Dicy Tales (1956), Dog Ghosts and Other Negro Folk Tales (1958), Worser Days and Better Times (1965), and an anthology, American Negro Folklore (1968), for which he won the Chicago Book Fair Award in 1968 and the Twenty-first Annual Writers Roundup award for one of the outstanding books written by a Texas author in 1969. Notable among several early volumes of poetry and history are Negrito (1933) and Negro Legislators of Texas (1936); both were reprinted in the 1970s. After ten years of teaching at Livingstone College in North Carolina, Brewer returned to Texas and finished his career at East Texas State University in Commerce (currently Texas A&M University-Commerce), where he was distinguished visiting professor from 1969 until his death. He died on 24 January 1975, and was buried in Austin.
Sources: Byrd, James W. "BREWER, JOHN MASON," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fbrbb), accessed 8 January 2021.Back to Top
Open reel audio recordings of a biographical interview with John Mason Brewer (1896-1975), a Black folklorist known for his work on African American tales and folklore, who was born in Texas. Recorded by Robert L. Russell in March 1967 at Livingstone College in Salisbury, N.C. The collection also contains supporting documentation, including field collection cover sheets prepared by former library staff. Supporting documentation indicates that the interview was conducted for an article that Russell wrote on Brewer.Back to Top
Processing information: Titles and descriptions compiled from SFC database and supporting documentation.
|SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20142/1808||
Biographical interview with J. Mason Brewer, Livingstone College, Salisbury, N.C., 11 March 1967 #20142, Series: "Robert L. Russell Interview with John Mason Brewer, 1976." FT-20142/1808
1/4" Open Reel Audio
|SFC Audio Open Reel FT-20142/1650||
Interview with Professor J. Mason Brewer, Livingstone College, Salisbury, N.C., 12 March 1967 #20142, Series: "Robert L. Russell Interview with John Mason Brewer, 1976." FT-20142/1650
1/4" Open Reel Audio
Processed by: Anne Wells and Meredith Kite, January 2021
Encoded by: Anne Wells, January 2021
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Archival processing of the Robert L. Russell Interview with John Mason Brewer was made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.Back to Top