Saturday, August 15, 2015

Langston Hughes' Collection Of Rent Party Cards

Black tenants in Harlem faced discriminatory rental rates and their low salaries made it difficult to pay the rent.  Tenants came up with a novel solution. Rent parties were  held in Harlem in the 1940s and 1950s. Apartments were opened up for a night, charging a fee to guests in return for live music, dancing, and socializing. Food was extra, and the accumulated cash went to help the hosts pay their rent.

Cards were used to adverse the parties but euphemisms were always used to name the parties’ purpose i.e. “Social Whist Party” and “Social Party”.American poet, playwright and social activist Langston Hughes collected "Rent Party Cards". They are held with his papers in Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.



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