Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Belton, Don mss., ca. 1960-2009, consist of the papers of Indiana University Assistant Professor Don Belton (1956-2009), who taught in the Creative Writing Program in the English Department from July 2008-December 2009. Professor Belton was born on August 7, 1956 to Charles and Dora Belton in Philadelphia, PA. Educated in the Philadelphia school system, his talent, gifts and potential won him a scholarship to William Penn Charter School. Belton earned a B.A. from Bennington College in 1981 and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Hollins College in 1982.

Professor Belton's publications include the highly-regarded novel Almost Midnight (1986). He was also the editor of the anthology Speak My Name: Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream (1996), considered a groundbreaking contribution to representations of black male experience. He published widely in in literary reviews, literature anthologies, cultural journals, popular magazines and newspapers, including The Philadelphia Inquirer, Black Film Review, Artpaper, Transition, The Utne Reader, and The Indiana Review. Prior to coming to IU Bloomington, Belton taught at Shippensburg University, the University of Michigan, Macalester College, and the University of Pennsylvania. In addition, he had been a fellow at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference at Middlebury College, Macdowell and Yadoo artists' colonies, the Rockefeller Center in Italy, and the Center for Media Studies at Brown University.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Journals; II. Notebooks; III. Writings; IV. Correspondence; V. Professional; VI. Courses; VII. Research; VIII. Miscellaneous; IX. Photographs; X. Artwork; XI. Audio-Visual; XII. Postcards; XIII. Memorabilia; XIV. Additions.

Journals consist of hardbound diaries featuring regular handwritten entries by Don Belton covering the years 1984-2009. Notebooks consist of spiral pads, with handwritten entries also by Belton, covering the years 1967-2008. The journals contain mainly personal reflections whereas the notebooks tend to feature ideas for writing and teaching, although there is occasional overlap between these topics.

Writings include drafts, proofs, and print materials for the works of Don Belton and other authors. Correspondence includes letters from: Chinua Achebe; Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; William Kennedy; Jonathan Lethem; Terry McMillan; Jane Meara; Theoharis C. Theoharis; Paule Turner. Professional files include Belton's contract and agreements, conference and workshop materials, and materials for promotion and tenure. Course materials include class notes and exercises, student papers, projects, and assignments, course descriptions, and syllabi for classes taught by Belton.

Research files are comprised of articles and other writings collected by Don Belton pertaining to his wide-ranging personal and professional interests, including African-American culture, black masculinity, GLBT studies, blues, jazz, pop and hip-hop music, cinema, Toni Morrison, Diana Ross, and James Baldwin. Miscellaneous files include Belton's elementary school grades, financial records, newspaper clippings, magazines, ephemera, and assorted personal notes. Photographs include images of Don Belton, James Baldwin, and several of Belton's personal photo albums. Artwork includes Belton's loose-leaf sketches and sketchbooks. Audiovisual includes audiocassettes and videocassettes, some featuring readings and interviews conducted by Belton, others containing copyrighted material.

The Postcards series consists of a voluminous assortment of picture postcards collected by Don Belton over the years, and arranged by Belton according to "People, Places and Favorite Things," "Writers, Other Creative Artists and Athletes," "Music Artists," and "Vintage Places and Holidays." Memorabilia includes a string-less violin, an alligator head (preserved by taxidermy) filled with index cards featuring literary terms and used presumably for classroom exercises, and a bulletin board with assorted paraphernalia collected by Don Belton.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2010

Collection size: 25,000 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.