Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs

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Special Collections and Archives

Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs

The Special Collections & Archives reading room is closed, and all in-person (physical, face-to-face) services are suspended from now through the fall 2020 semester. We are here to help! Please contact us to discuss how we can best serve you during this time.

Special Collections and Archives

Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs

Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs

Finding Aid

Prepared by Haley Antell, November 2019


Descriptive Rules: DACS
Origination: Tolliver, Lafayette
Inclusive Dates: 1967-1971
Extent: 1.0 cubic foot (1 document case, 1 oversized box)
Physical Location: 10th floor
Language of Materials: English


Abstract: Lafayette Tolliver graduated from Kent State University in 1971. He was a photographer and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater and the Chestnut Burr. This collection is comprised mainly of Tolliver’s photographs, which document black student life in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


Biographical Note: Lafayette Tolliver attended Kent State University from 1967-1971, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in photojournalism. He served as a photographer and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater campus newspaper and the Chestnut Burr yearbook. Tolliver also photographed activities sponsored by black student organizations, was one of the founding members of Black United Students (BUS), and a member of the fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha. Tolliver was an eyewitness to the shootings at Kent State on May 4, 1970, and provided oral testimony to the Commission on KSU Violence. He received his JD from the University of Toledo College of Law and went on to become a civil rights attorney, practicing in Toledo, Ohio.

Scope and Content: The Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs are comprised mainly of photographic negatives, prints, and slides, totaling over one thousand images taken by Tolliver during his time as a student at Kent State University. The images document black student life in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and include photographs of demonstrations organized by Black United Students (BUS), student activities in the arts, athletics, fraternities, and community service. The collection also contains newspaper clippings related to black student life on campus, BUS, and copies of Tolliver’s column “Basic Black,” which appeared in the Daily Kent Stater. Also included is a small amount of correspondence and a scrapbook.


Acquisition Note: The Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs were donated to Kent State University Special Collections and Archives by Tolliver in 2014.

Related Material: Lafayette Tolliver’s oral testimony to the Commission on KSU Violence is located in the Commission on KSU Violence records, Series 4: CKSUC: Audio-Visual materials, Subseries 1: Audio Recordings.


Arrangement: The Lafayette Tolliver papers and photographs are organized into two series:


Series 1: Lafayette Tolliver papers
Arrangement: This series is arranged alphabetically by type of material.

Box 1
Folder -- Contents

  1. Clippings: Daily Kent Stater, 1968
  2. Clippings: Daily Kent Stater, 1969
  3. Clippings: Daily Kent Stater, 1971
  4. Clippings: The Militant, May 30, 1969
  5. Clippings: Various Sources, undated
  6. Correspondence: Tolliver, Lafayette, 1968-1970; undated
  7. Poster: SDS, undated
    Scope and Content: Poster printed by the Kent State chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), which features an image from the Black Student Walkout in November, 1968
    Physical Location: This item is located in Oversized Box 1.
  8. Publication: KENT magazine, April 1969
    Scope and Content: Volume 2, Number 7. Contains an interview of Lafayette Tolliver regarding black student life at Kent State University.
    Physical Location: This item is located in Oversized Box 1.
  9. Scrapbook: Tolliver, Lafayette, 1968
    Physical Location: This item is located in Oversized Box 1.
  10. Writings: Tolliver, Lafayette, 1968-1971
    Scope and Content: Contains articles from “Basic Black,” Lafayette Tolliver’s column in the Daily Kent Stater.

Series 2: Lafayette Tolliver photographs
Alternate Form Available: A selection of images have been digitized and are available to view online in the Lafayette Tolliver Digital Collection.
Scope and Content: This series includes over one thousand negatives, transparencies, and photographic prints taken by Lafayette Tolliver circa 1967-1971. The bulk of the images are 35mm black and white negatives, but there are a small number of 35mm color negatives, and 35mm color slides. The series also contains large format negatives, large format transparencies, and black and white photographic prints, most of which originated from the 35mm negatives in the collection.
Arrangement: The photographs are arranged alphabetically by format and by subject.

Box 1
Folder -- Contents

  1. Negatives, 35mm: Alpha Phi Alpha, circa 1967-1971
  2. Negatives, 35mm: Baraka, Amiri, 1969; 1971
    Scope and Content: Includes images of Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), speaking at Kent State.
  3. Negatives, 35mm: Black United Students, 1968-1971
    Scope and Content: Includes images from the Black Student Walkout, “Free the BUS Two” protest, rally for Fred “Ahmed” Evans, a silent protest on the steps of the Administration Building, and a birthday party for BUS President Erwind Blount.
  4. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 1 of 6)
  5. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 2 of 6)
    Scope and Content: Includes images of students at Kuumba House.
  6. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 3 of 6)
  7. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 4 of 6)
  8. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 5 of 6)
  9. Negatives, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Events, circa 1967-1971 (folder 6 of 6)
  10. Negatives, 35mm: Community Service, 1969-1970
    Scope and Content: Contains images of BUS members tutoring students from McElrath, a community in Ravenna, Ohio, at the Black Cultural Center known as Kuumba House.
  11. Negatives, 35mm: Dance Performances, circa 1969-1971
  12. Negatives, 35mm: Gregory, Dick, 1969
  13. Negatives, 35mm: Martin Luther King Junior Memorial, April 1970
  14. Negatives, 35mm: Ohio Army National Guard and ROTC Building, May 1970
    Scope and Content: Contains images of the burned down ROTC building and the Ohio Army National Guard on the Kent State campus in the days leading up to May 4, 1970. Includes a few images of students gathered near Taylor Hall and the Victory Bell.
  15. Negatives, 35mm: Olatunji, Babatunde, February 1970
  16. Negatives, 35mm: Sports, circa 1969-1971
    Scope and Content: Includes images of the Brothers Together intramural basketball team.
  17. Negatives, 35mm: Think Week, 1969
  18. Negatives, 35mm: Unidentified Rallies or Protests, circa 1969-1971
  19. Negatives, 35mm: Vietnam War Protests, 1969; 1971
  20. Negatives and Transparencies, Large Format, circa 1967-1971
    Scope and Content: Most of the negatives and transparencies originated from the 35mm negatives in this collection.
  21. Photographic Prints: circa 1967-1971
    Scope and Content: Most of the prints originated from the 35mm negatives in this collection.
  22. Slides, 35mm: Campus Scenes and Portraits, circa 1967-1971