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August Wilson at his birthplace. (Photo by Bill Wade)

The University of Pittsburgh Acquires August Wilson Archive

The Pittsburgh playwright’s archive will reside in a state-of-the-art home in the university’s Hillman Library.

PITTSBURGH: The University Library System at the University of Pittsburgh has acquired the archive of the late playwright and Pittsburgh native August Wilson. The August Wilson Archive was acquired through the help of Wilson’s widow, Constanza Romero, executor of the playwright’s estate.

“This acquisition is about more than bringing August Wilson back home to Pittsburgh,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in a statement. “This archive deftly puts the experiences of Black Americans beneath an intimate magnifying glass and unpacks themes of injustice and inequity that are just as relevant today as when Wilson’s first play debuted. The University of Pittsburgh is proud to do our part in keeping August Wilson’s brilliance—for those in Pittsburgh and far beyond—alive, and we are deeply grateful to Constanza for entrusting us with this task.”

Wilson is best known for the American Century Cycle, a collection of ten plays about the Black experience in each decade of the 20th century. All ten of the plays have had Broadway productions, and two earned Wilson the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

The processing of the August Wilson Archive, which includes more than 450 boxes of materials, will begin in 2021. The materials include scripts, photographs, productions materials, speeches, essays, and items that document his career and interests from the 1960s to the 2010s. The August Wilson Archive will reside in a state-of-the-art home in Hillman Library’s renovated Archives & Special Collections. The archive will include physical and digital exhibition space, an expansive reading room, and a large classroom, allowing for hands-on interaction with these and other materials.

The archives will significantly augment the Pittsburgh legacy of Wilson’s life and work, already celebrated through the August Wilson African American Cultural Center and August Wilson House, the playwright’s childhood home on Bedford Avenue in the Hill District.

“This exceptional archive will inform and inspire scholars everywhere for decades to come,” said University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd in a statement. “It is the ultimate testament to August Wilson’s enormous contributions to the literary world. Growing up in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, the city helped to shape his brilliant creative vision. I find it particularly meaningful, then, to have the collection come home—and we are proud to house it in Hillman Library.”

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