Skip to main content

Special Collections & Archives

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Born in Dayton, Ohio, in 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 would endure through the present day.

To honor Paul Laurence Dunbar's legacy and his connection to Dayton, Mr. William Shepard, the grandson of Dunbar's frequent patron, Dr. Henry Tobey, presented Dr. Tobey's nearly complete, inscribed collection of Dunbar's first edition books to Special Collections and Archives at Wright State University in 1975. In the spring of 1992, Wright State University's main library was renamed in honor of Paul Laurence Dunbar, recognizing not only his significant literary contributions but his importance to Dayton and his friendship with the Wright Brothers, for whom the university is named.

The recognition of Dunbar's legacy continues here, where Special Collections and Archives and the Paul Laurence Dunbar Library offer the opportunity to discover and explore the life and poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar. Established upon the occasion of the rededication of the Wright State University Library in 1992, the Digital Text Collection of a selected group of Dunbar's poetry is intended to encourage the use of and interest in the works of Dunbar. New content and enhancements were made to the site in May 2005 and again in early 2012.