Path Press Archives
Path Press, originally founded in 1969, was one of the first black-owned publishing companies in the United States. Its founders, Herman C. Gilbert and Bennett Johnson (now the Vice President of Haki Madhubuti's Third World Press), launched the press with two publications—the late Frank London Brown's second and final novel, The Myth Maker, and Herman C. Gilbert's first, The Uncertain Sound. The press closed due to financial difficulties, but launched again ten years later with Gilbert's second novel.
The press peaked in 1987, when it published five books, including American Diary, the autobiography of former Chicago Defender editor Enoch P. Waters, and Mary Wilson's To Benji, With Love. However, by the 1990s, the press had begun to concentrate most of its efforts on other aspects of the black media, including black book distribution and film. Nevertheless, despite its brief list of published titles, the press's archive tells a story that is central to the early history of black publishing and black entrepreneurship alike.
The Path Press Archive contains extensive correspondence, manuscripts and other materials relating to The Negotiations, To Benji, With Love, American Diary and its other published titles. It also contains a number of unpublished manuscripts by unknown authors, and well-known authors such as Ellis N. Cose and David Covin. There is also material relating to two unpublished anthologies: one would have been a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.; the other would have been a poetry anthology edited by Margaret Burroughs. Finally, the collection includes a detailed record of the press's business practice, including sales records, MBE certification applications, business prospectuses, and several cases of litigation and Better Business Bureau complaints. There is also information on the press's attempts to produce black films, and detailed records from their years in black book distribution.