Founded in 1972, the Hatch-Billops Collection houses an extensive archive of African American memorabilia and exists as a direct result of the 1965 “open admissions” policy at the City College of New York, where James Hatch was teaching theater history. Today the collection’s mission is threefold: to collect and preserve primary and secondary resources in the black cultural arts; to provide access to these materials to artists, scholars, and the general public; and to develop programs in the arts that would use the materials in the collection. This essay examines the importance of archiving black American culture and the lives of Hatch and Camille Billops, the artists who have made it their life’s work.

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