Paul Laurence Dunbar

Born in Dayton, Ohio, on June 27, 1872, Paul Laurence Dunbar was one of the first African American literary figures to garner critical acclaim on a national scale. Although he lived just thirty-three years, Dunbar's contributions in a variety of genres left a legacy that endures today.

In 1975, Mr. William Shepard presented Special Collection and Archives with a nearly complete, inscribed collection of Dunbar's first edition books. The collection originally belonged to Dr. Henry Tobey, Mr. Shepard's grandfather and Dunbar's frequent patron. Mr. Shepard's gift honors Paul Laurence Dunbar's literary legacy and connection to Dayton.

Wright State University's main library was renamed in honor of Paul Laurence Dunbar on May 2, 1992. The remembrance recognizes Dunbar's significant literary contributions, importance to Dayton, and friendship with Wilbur and Orville Wright for whom the University is named. The poetry, songs, biography, and timeline you find here enhances exploration of Dunbar's work and life, and extends Dunbar's legacy to a new generation of readers.

Paul Laurence Dunbar