Penn State University is hoping to help Cheyney University digitize some of the amazing collection of nearly 400 scrapbooks that William Henry Dorsey created from the 1860s to the turn of the century. William Dorsey knew other Philadelphia African American scrapbook makers as well. I’m honored to be heading to University Park, PA next week to speak about the scrapbooks they spent so much time on, and why they made them. And I’ll have a day in the library to revisit the scrapbooks — who knows what else I’ll find! On my wish list: more information on Dorsey’s friend Joseph W.H. Cathcart, a Philadelphia janitor who made about 150 huge scrapbooks. And is it possible he knew Amos Webber? What about Frank Webb? Learn a bit more about Dorsey from a short article I wrote about his scrapbooks for The Root last year.
Of course Roger Lane mined Dorsey’s scrapbooks for his fine comprehensive history of 19th century black Philadelphia, William Dorsey’s Philadelphia and Ours.