The Barry Beckham collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, research material, printed material, and other items.
Manuscripts by Beckham in the collection include drafts of his books My Main Mother (novel, Walker and Co., 1969); Runner Mack (novel, William Morrow and Co., 1972); and Two Years in the Interior (memoir, unpublished, of Beckham’s time spent working for Chase Manhattan Bank); and The Black Student’s Guide to College. Also present is a draft of his play Garvey Lives! as well as stories, speeches, essays, book reviews, outlines, and other short works. In addition, the collection includes writings from Beckham’s student years at Brown University.
Correspondence in the collection dates from 1969 to 2007. There are several personal letters, including invitations, postcards, birthday and sympathy cards, and e-mails from friends, family and acquaintances of Beckham. Professional letters is extensive, dating from the 1960s to the 2000s, with several items from the 1970s. Notable correspondents include R. V. Cassill, John Cheever, Toni Morrison, David Rockefeller, Robert Coover, Bill Cosby, Hoyt Fuller, Robert Grey, Charles Harris, John Hawkes, David Henderson, Gordon Lish, Seymour Peck, Dorothy Day, Gayl Jones, and Phil Petrie.
Research material in the collection consists of numerous files on Chase Manhattan Bank compiled and arranged by Beckham, as well as information used for The Black Student’s Guide to College.
Printed material includes various articles clipped from magazines and newspapers (including Esquire, Intellectual Digest, New York Times, Library Journal, and Black Enterprise) that are book reviews and articles written by Beckham, dating from ca. 1969 to the 2000s; articles which mention Beckham, including many publications and clippings reviewing Runner Mack and My Main Mother; biographical articles about Beckham; letters published in newspapers; programs and flyers for plays and other events (1993-2003); and other items.
Other material in the collection includes papers relating to Brown University and a number of events being hosted by the school; Beckham’s 1965-1966 Brown University ID card; various sports and theater tickets; and a contract between Beckham and the San Francisco Unified School District dated 1998.