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The Canaday Center preserves many rare and unique resources that provide opportunities for research in the diverse cultures of the world. The Center has collected rare books by African-American writers since its founding in 1979. These include writers of the nineteenth century, and the Center preserves some scarce volumes from those who published before the Civil War. Also included are writers of the late nineteenth century, including Paul Lawrence Dunbar, who lived in Toledo for a brief period of time.
The Center’s African-American collection is richest, however, in the period beginning with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and extending through the Black Arts movement of the 1960s. The Center holds a significant collection of first editions of African-American writers of these periods, and is particularly strong in its collection of works by women authors. In addition to published works, the Center holds the papers of two important African-American poets—Etheridge Knight, who began writing poetry while serving time in prison; and Herbert Woodward Martin, a graduate of The University of Toledo.
The Center has also made an effort to collect records and printed works of organizations in Toledo that have sought to preserve the cultural history of the city’s immigrant populations, including the Polish, Hungarian, and German communities. In addition, the Center holds the records of organizations that promote cultural exchange. Most important of these is the Association of Two Toledos, the oldest sister-city organization in the world. One of the founders of the association was University of Toledo President Dr. Henry Doermann, and his involvement is evidenced by the university’s motto, which is written in old Spanish rather than the more common Latin, and its seal, which is modeled after the coat of arms of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.
Lastly, some of the Center’s manuscript collections document interesting aspects of international history. These include the papers of Toledo lawyer Gustavus Ohlinger, who traveled to South Africa at the end of the Boer War and captured that time in photographs and a daily journal. They also include an extensive collection of papers of Indian demographer Dr. Sripati Chandrasekhar. Dr. Chandrasekhar was one of the leaders of efforts by India to bring its population growth under control in the 1960s, and his papers document this controversial program.