Apr 14, 2015 - Sale 2380

Sale 2380 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 5,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,000 - $ 3,000
(AFRICAN-AMERICANS.) Archive of journalist Billy Rowe. Hundreds of items (0.8 linear feet), including 302 photographs (loose and in albums) * 11 letters to and from Rowe * 63 typescripts and carbon copies of "Billy Rowe's Note Book" and other columns, 1939-1968 * 2 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, 1937-41 * 11 press releases received by Rowe, 1942-46 * and more, all housed in a large wooden trunk, 17 x 33 x 16 inches, stenciled "Billy Rowe, War Correspondent, U.S.A."; condition varies, with a general musty odor and wear to scrapbook pages. Vp, 1918-97, bulk circa 1938-50

Additional Details

William L. "Billy" Rowe (1913-1997) was one of the most influential journalists in the African-American community during the mid-20th century, most notably as author of the widely syndicated "Billy Rowe's Note Book" column for the Pittsburgh Courier from 1935 to 1951, and later for the Amsterdam Times in New York City. He also headed a public relations firm in partnership with boxer Joe Louis, and served as a deputy Police Commissioner in New York in the 1950s, the first African-American to hold that post. His wife Isadora "Izzy" (Smith) Rowe was also a popular columnist.
The collection includes two letters Rowe wrote to his mother Josephine while covering World War Two. On 14 October 1944 he wrote: "At night when even the filthy jungle seems to find a place for insects and pests, you can't help but wish stronger for home. . . . I'm now attached to the army in the Southwest Pacific under General MacArthur and will soon be in a position to get some real stories. I've been angling for this for a long time." Carbon copies of the original typescripts for dozens of installments of "Billy Rowe's Note Book" are found loose or in a looseleaf binder. Most date from Rowe's Pittsburgh Courier prime, 1939-1950, with a handful from his later work in New York, 1968-71. Most of the columns relate to music, film, sports, and theater. The collection also includes scrapbooks of Rowe's early columns and press photography, one with a $5 receipt for the first photograph he sold back in 1937. The extensive collection of photographs includes both professional and family shots, including photographs of his wife's family dating back to 1918. Another highlight is a program titled "A Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.," Carnegie Hall, 27 January 1961.
The Rowes has ongoing contact with Cuba; his firm did some work for the Castro regime in 1959. This collection includes a 1946 letter from one of Rowe's Cuban readers who passes on gossip on the performers passing through Havana. It also includes 4 pages of typed minutes from a small club of American women which Isadora Rowe helped form in Havana in 1961, bearing the unlikely name "Lying, Eating, Drinking and Damageing Everybodies Reputation from Coast to Coast and Friends of Revolutionary Cuba Society." They described themselves as "the Ladies Auxiliary to Louis and Rowe" (the publicity agency), promised to "learn some Spanish" and bring "damaging information to each meeting that has happened in their city to smear someone other than a member." One member proposed raising money to buy shoes for the children of Cuba. A more detailed inventory of this substantial archive is available upon request.