New Harlem Renaissance Resource On Britannica Website

Posted on February 3, 1999

The proud and stately poetry of Langston Hughes, the earthy blues of Bessie Smith, and the sober reminiscences of W.E.B. Du Bois can be found online with the launch of "The Harlem Renaissance from Encyclopaedia Britannica." The multimedia exhibit, the latest in a series of topical "spotlights" from Encyclopaedia Britannica, recreates the Harlem Renaissance, which brought growth in African-American culture in New York City in the 1920s.

The release of the website also coincides with the return of the "The Encyclopaedia Britannica Guide to Black History," an in-depth, multimedia look at African-American history from the early 16th century to the present. Both sites have been released for the February observance of Black History Month and will be available free of charge through March.

"Black History Month is a perfect time to mark the achievements of the Harlem Renaissance, one of the most creative movements in American history," said Paul Hoffman, publisher of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. "Our aim is to provide an engaging and enlightening on-line experience that not only teaches you things you didn't know but sheds light on the causes, meaning, and significance of events. The site delivers fascinating insights while using technology and a host of fun, interactive features to bring the era to life."

The Harlem Renaissance was a period of exceptional intellectual vigor, all the more remarkable because it was concentrated in a single neighborhood in uptown New York City. It is often remembered as a literary phenomenon, thanks to writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Claude McKay, but it was much more than that. As the Britannica site observes, "Musicians and composers like Duke Ellington and Eubie Blake, artists and dancers like Aaron Douglas and Josephine Baker, thinkers and leaders like James Weldon Johnson and Alain Locke, and thousands of ordinary men and women turned this 3-mile square area into a furnace of creative expression and intellectual activity that fired the imaginations of African-Americans wherever they lived."