ABSTRACT

How does one see Black girlhood in the archive? What do we see when we think of the archive as a space of richness to approach Black girlhood, while still acknowledging archival limitations? Through close readings of archival materials in the Toni Cade Bambara Collection in the Spelman College archives, this paper argues that some African American women writers’ archival collections are places of abundance that provide the opportunity to encounter Black girlhood. Between letters to and from her daughter, Karma Bambara, letters from Audre Lorde, and unpublished speeches and essays, my readings of Bambara’s archive demonstrates that Black girlhood may not be as scarce in the archive as otherwise argued. If we cease to see Black archival exploration of Black girlhood as information about girls and instead see it as a space in which Black girlhood is a vessel that holds some Black feminists’ archival collections, then Black girlhood is difficult to miss in these materials.

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