Cyrus Colter Papers
Beach Umbrella was Cyrus Colter's first book, published in 1970, when he was sixty years old. A collection of short stories, Beach Umbrella was selected by Kurt Vonnegut to receive the first ever University of Iowa Award for Short Fiction, launching Colter's writing career. In the years that followed, Colter published an expanded volume of short stories called The Amoralists and Other Tales (1988) as well as five novels: The Rivers of Eros (1972), The Hippodrome (1973), Night Studies (1979), A Chocolate Soldier (1988), and City of Light (1993). In 1990, Colter's name was engraved on the frieze of the new Illinois State Public Library, alongside such esteemed writers as Ernest Hemingway, Saul Bellow and Gwendolyn Brooks. Colter's lifetime achievements were honored with the first ever TriQuarterly Award in 1991, and in 1998 he was inducted into the Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent.
The Cyrus Colter Papers consist mainly of material pertaining to Colter's forty-year career as a writer and educator at the Harsh Collection. A smaller body of material pertains to Colter's prior military, legal and political careers. The collection contains multiple versions of hand-annotated manuscripts of Chocolate Soldier and City of Light, as well as two versions of Rivers of Eros, an early version of Hippodrome, drafts of several short stories, one poem, and two reviews. There are also numerous photographs documenting Colter's life as a soldier in WWII, as a lawyer on the South Side of Chicago during the Chicago Renaissance, as the second ever African-American member of the Illinois Commerce Commission, and as a writer.