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Prepared by Anita Clary, February 2022
Descriptive Rules: DACS
Inclusive Dates: 1920-2022
Bulk Dates: 1963-1999
Extent: 6.33 cubic feet (6 record storage boxes, 1 document case, and 1 oversize folder)
Physical Location: 10th floor
Biography of Edward W. Crosby and Shirley Crosby
Biographical Summary: With a background in developing curricula for disadvantaged students, Kent State University alumnus Edward W. Crosby was hired as director of the new Institute for African American Affairs in 1969. Created in response to Black United Students' activism, the Institute was established to create a program of African American Studies, with an aim to foster racial harmony. The Center of Pan-African Culture was created in 1970, and the Department of Pan-African Studies was created in 1976, both under Crosby's leadership. Working with Black United Students and other Kent State University administrators, Crosby played an integral role in expanding Negro History Week into a month-long commemoration, and the first Black History Month in the United States was held at the university in February 1970. Shirley Crosby volunteered countless hours supporting students and youth, both at the university and in the community, through her work with the Center of Pan-African Culture, the African Community Theatre, and other student organizations, all while raising their three sons.
Detailed Biographical Note: Edward W. Crosby (1932-2021) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. A veteran of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Special Category Army Reassigned with Air Force (SCARWAF), Crosby earned a BA and MA in medieval German language and history from Kent State University. He earned a doctorate degree in medieval German literature and medieval European history from the University of Kansas. He taught German and Spanish at several colleges, including Kent State, Hiram College, and Tuskegee Institute, but is most known for his work at Southern Illinois University, Kent State University, and the University of Washington where he worked primarily with Black students who oftentimes needed remediation to support their success in a collegiate environment. East St. Louis provided a real world laboratory where he was able to develop a curriculum tailored to the needs of the Black students enrolled in the Experiment in Higher Education (EHE), one of the first programs in the Unitied States designed specifically for at-risk students.
In July 1969 Crosby was asked to establish the first Black studies program at Kent State University. The Institute for African American Affairs (IAAA), a diversity intensive curricular program, was founded in August 1969. He is now known as the "father of Black History Month" after he helped Black United Students and the Center for Human Relations organize the nation's first Black History Month held on Kent State's campus in February 1970. Crosby was also instrumental in technological innovation at Kent State, and his department was the first to introduce desktop computers and cable TV in the classroom. From 1969 until his retirement in 1993, Crosby led the IAAA, the Center of Pan-African Culture (CPAC), and the Department of Pan-African Studies (DPAS).
Over the years Dr. Crosby developed a national reputation as one of the first leaders of the National Council of Black Studies and other national organizations involved in the establishment of Black studies as a discipline. Following his retirement from Kent State University, Crosby continued his involvement in the education of the Black community, founding the Ida B. Wells Community Academy in Akron, Ohio.
Shirley Crosby (1932- ) was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. She earned a degree in sociology from Ohio University. In support of her husband's efforts at Kent State, Mrs. Crosby volunteered her time and expertise in the Center of Pan-African Culture for over 12 years, serving as advisor, fundraiser, ticket taker, vendor coordinator and organizer of the Pan-African Festival. She acted as advisor to a new organization on campus, Harambee, that was specifically designed to support the activities of the Center of Pan-African Culture, receiving the advisor of the year award in 1994. She was also advisor to Zeta Phi Beta sorority. Known as Mama Crosby, she had a significant impact as a community liaison with the Black communities of Kent, Akron, Cleveland, and Youngstown, as well as students from all around the world attending Kent State University. Edward and Shirley Crosby received lifetime achievement awards for their contributions to the African Community Theatre during its 25th anniversary celebration in 1998.
Sources: Daily Kent Stater Digital Archive, Department of Africana Studies website (History, and People), We Did It Together: A Tribute to the Crosby's 50 Years in Black Education, and biographical notes provided by Kofi Khemet.
Scope and Content: The collection contains biographical information and publications authored or co-authored by Edward W. Crosby and records related to his professional work, including as director of the Institute for African American Affairs and the Department of Pan-African Studies. Also included are programs and photographs from productions of the African Community Theatre, where Shirley Crosby volunteered as house and promotion manager. The subject files contain collected papers and publications, including research papers, occasional papers, student papers, conference proceedings, lectures and speeches, articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, catalogs, directories, government publications, newsletters, periodicals, and reports.
Statement of Arrangement: The Edward W. and Shirley Crosby papers are arranged into the following series:
Separated Material: Selected publications and other works by Edward W. Crosby, including his master's thesis, are shelved separately and cataloged in KentLINK.
Related Material: Additional information about Edward W. Crosby is found in the Kent State University Academic Personnel Records, and additional information for both he and Shirley Crosby can be found in the Kent State University Communications and Marketing records and the University Photographs collection. Several digitized photographs may be found in the Kent State History: Digital Archive. See also the Daily Kent Stater Digital Archive for articles about the Crosbys. Please contact Special Collections and Archives staff for assistance in locating related materials.
Preferred Citation: Edward W. and Shirley Crosby papers. Kent State University Libraries. Special Collections and Archives.
Acquisition Information: The papers in this collection were donated to Special Collections and Archives by Edward W. and Shirley Crosby.
Accruals Note: Only a portion of the Crosby archive has been received to date. Future additions will be made to the collection as materials are received.
Series 1: Biographical Information
Series 2: Works Authored or Co-authored by Edward W. Crosby
Series 3: Southern Illinois University Experiment in Higher Education
Historical Note: Edward W. Crosby was Director of Education for the Experiment in Higher Education program at Southern Illinois University from 1966-1969.
Series 4: National Council for Black Studies
Historical Note: Edward W. Crosby was Vice Chairperson of the NCBS Curriculum and Accreditation Committee from 1989-1991, with a focus on developing an Afrocentric core curriculum for higher education.
Series 5: Kent State University Institute for African American Affairs (KSU-IAAA)
Series 5: Kent State University Institute of African American Affairs (KSU-IAAA)--Continued
Series 6: Kent State University Department of Pan-African Studies (KSU-PAS)
Series 7: Kent State University African Community Theatre (KSU-ACT)
Scope and Content: This series includes programs, publicity materials, and photographs from various productions of the African Community Theatre.
Processing Note: The materials in this series were originally collected and assembled into two large binders and included loose materials. For preservation purposes, the materials have been removed from the binders and put into archival sleeves and folders. The materials are arranged by topic and dates.
Series 8: Audio/Visual Recordings--Cassette Tapes
Physical Location: Audio cassette tapes are in a smaller box within Box 2.
Series 9: Subject Files
Scope and Content: The subject files contain collected papers and publications, including research papers, occasional papers, student papers, conference proceedings, lectures and speeches, articles, books, book chapters, book reviews, catalogs, directories, government publications, newsletters, periodicals, reports, and other print materials.
Arrangement: Files are arranged alphabetically by subject.
Series 9: Subject Files--Continued
Series 9: Subject Files--Continued
Series 9: Subject Files--Continued
Series 10: Portfolio Scrapbook
Scope and Content: This series is a portfolio of publications and print materials that were designed and published by Edward W. Crosby and sons, Darryl L. M. Crosby and Kofi Khemet, and known as HieroGraphics Productions. Materials were produced for the Department of Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, and other on-campus and off-campus entities, and includes flyers, brochures, periodicals, stationery, and event programs.
Processing Note: The materials in this series were originally collected and assembled into a large binder. For preservation purposes, the materials have been removed from the binders and put into archival folders. The folders are arranged in the order they were in the binder.