Skip to main content

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records

Identifier: AR0797

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL) Collection comprises the entire history of the organization, from its beginnings in 1977 at founder Curtis L. King's dining room table to the present. This includes documentation of thirty six seasons of theatrical and concert performances, visual art exhibits, guest lecturers, and community events, as well as the history of the organization, its different locations, and its search for funding from the City of Dallas. Particular highlights of the collection include its annual tribute to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., entitled Black Music and the Civil Rights Movement, which has featured headliners such as Eartha Kitt, Jennifer Holliday, Erykah Badu, Fantasia, Ruben Studdard, and CeCe Winans. Materials also describe TBAAL's engagement with Dallas K-12 students through its Youth Summer Arts program. The collection also documents other recurring events, such as Jazz at the Muse, Comedy at the Muse, Symphony in Black, and a number of events featuring gospel singers. There are also materials documenting the 1993 retrospective on the March on Washington, entitled I Remember..., musical tributes to Michael Jackson and Aretha Franklin, and an evening with Ambassadors from Africa and the Caribbean. Types of media include posters, flyers, and other promotional items for TBAAL's performances; news clippings documenting TBAAL's activities; architectural plans for its current facility in the Dallas Civic Center; Dallas City Council meeting minutes; press releases, grant applications, and correspondence with supporters and celebrities; photographs of performances, lectures, after-parties, and other events; and an extensive collection of audio/visual recordings of TBAAL productions.


  • Creation: 1970-2018
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1985-2018
  • Acquisition: Date acquired: 11/00/2014


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is not restricted.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright for all content in the TBAAL Archive is owned solely by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. Inquiries to obtain permission for commercial and/or non-educational use of materials from the TBAAL Archive should be directed to Curtis King, president, The Black Academy of Arts and Letters.

Biographical or Historical Information

Note written by Robert Lay


260.00 boxes

Language of Materials



A collection of materials of The Black Academy of Arts and Letters (TBAAL), from its beginnings in 1977 to the present, featuring its arts, culture, and outreach activities.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into seven series. Series 1: Audio/Visual Materials comprises 118 boxes of VHS, Betamax, Betacam, Umatic, and digital video recordings as well as audio cassettes of TBAAL events. These materials are arranged by season. Series 2: Administrative Files covers 14.5 boxes of meeting minutes, planning documents for TBAAL's moves, and other materials documenting the day-to-day operation and organizational history of The Black Academy. The files are arranged alphabetically by topic. Series 3: Support Letters comprise 2.5 boxes of correspondence sent both to The Black Academy of Arts and Letters and to founder Curtis King, personally, encouring and expressing support for TBAAL's activities. These materials were originally stored chronologically in a series of binders. This chronological arrangement has been retained. Series 4: Photographs contains TBAAL's extensive (49 boxes) photograph collection. This includes photos taken at TBAAL events, headshots and/or other promotional photographs. The original topical arrangement has been retained. Series 5: Press Files contains newsclippings, announcements, press releases, and TBAAL's newsletter, Pipeline. The files are arranged chronologically in 9 boxes. Series 6: Production Files comprises 41.9 boxes of promotional and planning material for performances and other events sponsored or hosted by The Black Academy of Arts and Letters. The files are arranged into chronological sub-series for each season; files are alphabetical within the season. Series 7: Oversize Materials captures large-format manuscripts that were separated from their original context. All such separations have been documented. In 2021, an accretion was added to the collection. It is arranged into 4 series and includes season 36 to season 41. It starts with series 8 to series 12. Series 8 is audio/visual materials, series 9 is press files, series 10 is production files, series 11 is autographed programs and series 12 is acknowledgement notes/support letters.

Physical Access Requirements

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hours notice prior to use.

Source of Acquisition

Curtis King/The Black Academy of Arts and Letters

Method of Acquisition


Appraisal Information

A team consisting of University of North Texas Special Collections archivists Amanda Montgomery and Robert Lay and TBAAL archivist Ronnika Williams performed an appraisal of the collection February-March 2015. Duplicate materials and sensitive personal and financial information were removed from the collection prior to transfer to UNT.

Accruals and Additions

2014-076. Additional accruals to the collection will be added every two years.

Related Materials

Portions of this collection have been digitized and are available within the "Black Academy of Arts and Letters Materials" collection in the Portal to Texas History.

Processing Information

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Collection was processed by a team of archivists consisting of Robert Lay, Amanda Montgomery, and student assistants Connor Flowers, Liz Hatter, Trista Neeley, and Savannah Bruce. Digitization provided courtesy of the UNT Media Library and Laura Treat. Hosting provided by the Portal to Texas History.

The Black Academy of Arts and Letters Records
Robert Lay, Amanda Montgomery, Connor Flowers, and B. Smith.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of North Texas Special Collections Repository

University of North Texas, Willis Library
1155 Union Circle # 305190
Denton TX 76203 US