Alice Browning Papers
Alice Browning was a writer and publishing entrepreneur, best known as the founding editor of Negro Story magazine (1944-1946) and the founder of the annual International Black Writers Conference (1970-present). A lifelong teacher at Forrestville Elementary School in Bronzeville, Browning studied for a Master's Degree in English at Columbia University in 1940. Frustrated by the lack of venues in which to publish her own writing, Browning teamed with her friend Fern Gayden, a social worker who had been a member of Richard Wright's South Side Writer's Group in the late 1930s. With the help of Gayden and Parkway Community House director Horace Cayton, Browning secured permission to reprint Wright's short story "Almos' a Man." Borrowing $200 from her husband Charles P. Browning, an executive at the Chicago Defender, she and Gayden printed and distributed the inaugural issue of Negro Story (pictured), which appeared in May 1944.
The Alice Browning Papers at the Chicago Public Library, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature consist in manuscripts, serials, pamphlets, photographs, and ephemera from throughout Browning's life, concentrated chiefly from 1968-1985, the years when she was organizing the International Black Writers Conference. They include a complete run of Negro Story and a nearly-complete run of Browning's later publication endeavor, The Browning Letter, as well as a complete manuscript of Browning's unpublished novel Chicago Girl, which she wrote in the 1940s.