Harold Courlander

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Harold Courlander_table_infobox_0

Harold CourlanderHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_0_0
BornHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_1_0 September 18, 1908

Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S.Harold Courlander_cell_0_1_1

DiedHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_2_0 March 15, 1996(1996-03-15) (aged 87)

United StatesHarold Courlander_cell_0_2_1

OccupationHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_3_0 Novelist, folklorist, anthropologistHarold Courlander_cell_0_3_1
LanguageHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_4_0 EnglishHarold Courlander_cell_0_4_1
Alma materHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_5_0 University of MichiganHarold Courlander_cell_0_5_1
GenreHarold Courlander_header_cell_0_6_0 Folklore, non-fiction, fictionHarold Courlander_cell_0_6_1

Harold Courlander (September 18, 1908 – March 15, 1996) was an American novelist, folklorist, and anthropologist and an expert in the study of Haitian life. Harold Courlander_sentence_0

The author of 35 books and plays and numerous scholarly articles, Courlander specialized in the study of African, Caribbean, Afro-American, and Native American cultures. Harold Courlander_sentence_1

He took a special interest in oral literature, cults, and Afro-American cultural connections with Africa. Harold Courlander_sentence_2

Life and work Harold Courlander_section_0

Courlander was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of noted American painter, David Courlander of Detroit, Michigan. Harold Courlander_sentence_3

Courlander received a B.A. in English from the University of Michigan in 1931. Harold Courlander_sentence_4

At the University of Michigan, he received three Avery Hopwood Awards (one in drama and two in literary criticism). Harold Courlander_sentence_5

He attended graduate school at the University of Michigan and Columbia University. Harold Courlander_sentence_6

He spent time in the 1930s on a farm in Romeo, Michigan. Harold Courlander_sentence_7

There, he built a one-room log cabin in the woods where he spent much of his time writing. Harold Courlander_sentence_8

With the prize money from the Hopwood Awards, Courlander took his first field trip to Haiti, inspired by the writings of William Buehler Seabrook. Harold Courlander_sentence_9

In 1939, he published his first book about Haitian life entitled Haiti Singing. Harold Courlander_sentence_10

Over the next 30 years, he traveled to Haiti more than 20 times. Harold Courlander_sentence_11

His research focused on religious practices, African retentions, oral traditions, folklore, music, and dance. Harold Courlander_sentence_12

His book, The Drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitian People, published in 1960, became a classic text for the study of Haitian culture. Harold Courlander_sentence_13

Courlander also took numerous field trips to the southern United States, recording folk music in the 1940s and 1950s. Harold Courlander_sentence_14

From 1947–1960, he served as a general editor of Ethnic Folkways Library (he actually devised the label name) and recorded more than 30 albums of music from different cultures (e.g., the cultures of Indonesia, Ethiopia, West Africa, Haiti, and Cuba). Harold Courlander_sentence_15

In 1950, he also did field recordings in Alabama later transcribed by John Benson Brooks. Harold Courlander_sentence_16

In the 1960s, Courlander began a series of field trips to the American Southwest to study the oral literature and culture of the Hopi Indians. Harold Courlander_sentence_17

His collection of folk tales, People of the Short Blue Corn: Tales and Legends of the Hopi Indians, was issued in 1970 and was quickly recognized as an indispensable work in the study of oral literature. Harold Courlander_sentence_18

From 1942-43, during World War II, Harold Courlander served as a historian for the Air Transport Command for the Douglas Aircraft Project 19 in Gura, Eritrea. Harold Courlander_sentence_19

Courlander then worked as a writer and editor for the Office of War Information in New York City and Bombay, India, from 1943-46. Harold Courlander_sentence_20

From 1946 until 1956, he worked as a news writer and news analyst for the Voice of America in New York City. Harold Courlander_sentence_21

He was an information specialist and speech writer for the U.S. Harold Courlander_sentence_22 Mission to the United Nations from 1956–1957. Harold Courlander_sentence_23

He was a writer and editor for The United Nations Review from 1957–1960. Harold Courlander_sentence_24

From 1960 until 1974, Courlander was African specialist, Caribbean specialist, feature writer, and senior news analyst for the Voice of America in Washington, D.C.. Harold Courlander_sentence_25

Roots and plagiarism Harold Courlander_section_1

Courlander wrote seven novels, his most famous being The African, published in 1967. Harold Courlander_sentence_26

The novel was the story of a slave's capture in Africa, his experiences aboard a slave ship, and his struggle to retain his native culture in a hostile new world. Harold Courlander_sentence_27

In 1978, Courlander filed suit in the U.S. Harold Courlander_sentence_28 District Court for the Southern District of New York, charging that Alex Haley, the author of Roots, had copied 81 passages from his novel. Harold Courlander_sentence_29

Courlander's pre-trial memorandum in the copyright infringement lawsuit claimed: Harold Courlander_sentence_30

The lawsuit did not allege that The African's plot was copied in its entirety, as the two novels differ in many plot points. Harold Courlander_sentence_31

Courlander's novel depicts a successful revolt on the slave ship, a shipwreck in the French colony of Saint-Domingue, a fugitive life as escaped slaves, recapture by French troops, and then transport to New Orleans in 1802. Harold Courlander_sentence_32

Haley's novel begins before the American Revolution, depicts disease striking down the slaves before they could revolt, and shows the ship arriving successfully in the British colony of Maryland. Harold Courlander_sentence_33

The copying in Roots was in the form of specific ideas and passages. Harold Courlander_sentence_34

For example, strikingly similar language is used to describe an infestation of lice on the slave ship: Harold Courlander_sentence_35

Harold Courlander_table_general_1

Courlander, The AfricanHarold Courlander_header_cell_1_0_0 Haley, RootsHarold Courlander_header_cell_1_0_1
To the damp sick foulness in the belly of the ship there came to be added another torture—lice. ... They crawled on the face and drank at the corners of the eyes. ... If the fingers caught the predator, it was killed between the fingernails.Harold Courlander_cell_1_1_0 But the lice preferred to bite him on the face, and they would suck at the liquids in the corners of Kunta's eyes, or the snot draining from his nostrils. He would squirm his body, with his fingers darting and pinching to crush any lice that he might trap between his nails.Harold Courlander_cell_1_1_1

In his Expert Witness Report submitted to federal court, Professor of English Michael Wood of Columbia University stated: Harold Courlander_sentence_36

During a five-week trial in federal district court, presiding U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Ward stated, "Copying there is, period." Harold Courlander_sentence_37

Passages from The African were found stapled to a manuscript page from Roots. Harold Courlander_sentence_38

However, Alex Haley maintained throughout the trial that he had not even heard of The African until the year after Roots was published, and speculated that someone else had given him the photocopied passages. Harold Courlander_sentence_39

After the trial, Joseph Bruchac, an instructor in black and African history at Skidmore College, stated that he had recommended Courlander's novel to Haley when he visited Skidmore in 1970. Harold Courlander_sentence_40

Bruchac remembered driving home three miles to fetch his own copy of The African and give it to Haley, who promised to read it "on the plane." Harold Courlander_sentence_41

Courlander and Haley settled the case out of court for $650,000 and a statement that "Alex Haley acknowledges and regrets that various materials from The African by Harold Courlander found their way into his book, Roots." Harold Courlander_sentence_42

Family life Harold Courlander_section_2

Courlander married Ella Schneideman in 1939. Harold Courlander_sentence_43

They had one child, Erika Courlander. Harold Courlander_sentence_44

They later divorced. Harold Courlander_sentence_45

Courlander married Emma Meltzer June 18, 1949. Harold Courlander_sentence_46

They had two children, Michael Courlander and Susan Jean Courlander. Harold Courlander_sentence_47

Selected bibliography and discography Harold Courlander_section_3

Novels Harold Courlander_section_4

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_0

  • The Caballero, 1940.Harold Courlander_item_0_0
  • The Big Old World of Richard Creeks, 1962, 1990.Harold Courlander_item_0_1
  • The African, 1967, 1977, 1993.Harold Courlander_item_0_2
  • The Mesa of Flowers, 1977, 2006.Harold Courlander_item_0_3
  • The Master of the Forge, 1983, 1996.Harold Courlander_item_0_4
  • The Son of the Leopard, 1974, 2002.Harold Courlander_item_0_5
  • The Bordeaux Narrative, 1988, 1990.Harold Courlander_item_0_6
  • Journey of the Grey Fox People (reissue of The Mesa of Flowers), 1977, 2006.Harold Courlander_item_0_7

Nonfiction Harold Courlander_section_5

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_1

  • A Treasury of African Folklore, 1975, 1995.Harold Courlander_item_1_8
  • A Treasury of Afro-American Folklore, 1976, 1995.Harold Courlander_item_1_9
  • Tales of Yoruba Gods and Heroes, 1973, 1974, 2001.Harold Courlander_item_1_10
  • The Heart of the Ngoni: Heroes of the African Kingdom of Segu (with Ousmane Sako), 1982.Harold Courlander_item_1_11
  • The Drum and the Hoe: Life and Lore of the Haitian People, 1960, 1985, 1988.Harold Courlander_item_1_12
  • Negro Folk Music, U.S.A., 1963, 1992.Harold Courlander_item_1_13
  • Haiti Singing, 1939, 1973.Harold Courlander_item_1_14
  • Big Falling Snow (with Albert Yava), 1978, 1982.Harold Courlander_item_1_15
  • Hopi Voices: Recollections, Traditions and Narratives of the Hopi Indians, 1982.Harold Courlander_item_1_16
  • Negro Songs from Alabama (music transcribed by John Benson Brooks), 1960, 1963, 1988.Harold Courlander_item_1_17
  • The Fourth World of the Hopis, 1971, 1987, 1999.Harold Courlander_item_1_18
  • Shaping Our Times: What the United Nations Is and Does, 1960.Harold Courlander_item_1_19
  • Vodoun in Haitian Culture (in Religion and Politics in Haiti), 1966.Harold Courlander_item_1_20
  • On Recognizing the Human Species', '1960.Harold Courlander_item_1_21

Folklore and folktales Harold Courlander_section_6

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_2

  • The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories (with George Herzog), 1947, 1987.Harold Courlander_item_2_22
  • The Hat-Shaking Dance and Other Ashanti Tales from Ghana, 1957, 1985.Harold Courlander_item_2_23
  • Olode the Hunter and Other Tales from Nigeria, 1968, 1996.Harold Courlander_item_2_24
  • The King's Drum and Other African Stories, 1962, 1990.Harold Courlander_item_2_25
  • The Crest and the Hide and Other African Stories of Heroes, Chiefs, Bards, Hunters, Sorcerers and Common People, 1982.Harold Courlander_item_2_26
  • The Fire on the Mountain and Other Ethiopian Stories (with Wolf Leslau), 1950, 1995.Harold Courlander_item_2_27
  • People of the Short Blue Corn: Tales and Legends of the Hopi Indians, 1970, 1995, 1998.Harold Courlander_item_2_28
  • The Tiger's Whisker and Other Tales from Asia and the Pacific, 1959, 1995.Harold Courlander_item_2_29
  • Terrapin's Pot of Sense, 1957, 1985.Harold Courlander_item_2_30
  • The Piece of Fire and Other Haitian Tales, 1964, 1992.Harold Courlander_item_2_31
  • Kantchil's Lime Pit and Other Stories from Indonesia, 1950.Harold Courlander_item_2_32
  • Uncle Bouqui of Haiti, 1942.Harold Courlander_item_2_33
  • Ride with the Sun, 1955, 1983.Harold Courlander_item_2_34

Plays Harold Courlander_section_7

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_3

  • Swamp Mud, 1936.Harold Courlander_item_3_35
  • Home to Langford County, 1938.Harold Courlander_item_3_36

Articles Harold Courlander_section_8

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_4

  • "Musical Instruments of Haiti", The Musical Quarterly, July 1941.Harold Courlander_item_4_37
  • "Profane Songs of the Haitian People", Journal of Negro History, July 1942.Harold Courlander_item_4_38
  • "The Ethiopian Game of Gobeta", The Negro History Bulletin, October 1943.Harold Courlander_item_4_39
  • "Gods of the Haitian Mountains", Journal of Negro History, July 1944.Harold Courlander_item_4_40
  • "Abakwa Meeting, Guanabacoa", Journal of Negro History, 1944.Harold Courlander_item_4_41
  • "Notes from an Abyssinian Diary", The Musical Quarterly, July 1944Harold Courlander_item_4_42
  • "Dance and Dance-Drama, Haiti", The Function of Dance, Human Society, 1944.Harold Courlander_item_4_43
  • "Incident, the Valley of Gura", The Negro History Bulletin, 1947.Harold Courlander_item_4_44
  • "Gods of Haiti", Tomorrow, Autumn 1954.Harold Courlander_item_4_45
  • "The Loa of Haiti: New World African Deities," 1955.Harold Courlander_item_4_46
  • "Three Sonike Tales", African Arts, November 1978.Harold Courlander_item_4_47
  • "Roots, The African, and the Whiskey Jug Case", The Village Voice, April 9, 1979.Harold Courlander_item_4_48
  • "Recording in Cuba in 1941", Resound: A Quarterly of the Archives of Traditional Music, July 1984.Harold Courlander_item_4_49
  • "Recording in Alabama in 1950", Resound: A Quarterly of the Archives of Traditional Music, October 1985.Harold Courlander_item_4_50
  • "Reflections on the Meaning of a Haitian Cult Song", Bulletin Du Bureau National D'ethnolgie, 1986.Harold Courlander_item_4_51
  • "Kunta Kinte's Struggle to be African", Phylon, December 1986.Harold Courlander_item_4_52
  • "Recording in Eritrea in 1942-43", Resound: A Quarterly of the Archives of Traditional Music, April 1987.Harold Courlander_item_4_53
  • "Some N.Y. Recording Episodes", Resound: A Quarterly of the Archives of Traditional Music, October 1988.Harold Courlander_item_4_54
  • "The Emperor Wore Clothes: Visiting Haile Selassie, 1943", The American Scholar, March 1989.Harold Courlander_item_4_55
  • "Recollections of Haiti, the 1930s and '40s", African Arts, April 1990.Harold Courlander_item_4_56
  • "Recording on the Hopi Reservation, 1968-1981", Resound: A Quarterly of the Archives of Traditional Music, April 1990.Harold Courlander_item_4_57
  • "How I Got My Log Cabin", Chronicle: The Quarterly Magazine of the Historical Society of Michigan, 1991.Harold Courlander_item_4_58

Awards, grants, fellowships, and honors Harold Courlander_section_9

Courlander received numerous awards, grants, and fellowships during his lifetime, including: Harold Courlander_sentence_48

Harold Courlander_unordered_list_5

  • The Newbery Honor Book Award in 1948 for his book The Cow-Tail Switch and Other West African Stories (with George Herzog)Harold Courlander_item_5_59
  • Guggenheim Fellowships and Grants in 1948, 1953, and 1958Harold Courlander_item_5_60
  • Wenner-Gren Foundation Grants for Anthropological Research in 1956, 1960, 1962, and 1970Harold Courlander_item_5_61
  • Franz Boas Fund Grant, 1939Harold Courlander_item_5_62
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal Nomination for Contributions to Children's Literature in 1979Harold Courlander_item_5_63
  • American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults" list in 1969 for his book The AfricanHarold Courlander_item_5_64
  • Parents' Choice "Remarkable" Award in 1982 for his book The Crest and The HideHarold Courlander_item_5_65
  • The Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Michigan in 1984Harold Courlander_item_5_66
  • Avery Hopwood Award in Drama, 1931Harold Courlander_item_5_67
  • Avery Hopwood Award in Literary Criticism, 1931Harold Courlander_item_5_68
  • Avery Hopwood Award in Literary Criticism, 1932Harold Courlander_item_5_69
  • American Philosophical Society grants-in-aid for work regarding Haiti and Africa, 1946, 1953, 1957Harold Courlander_item_5_70
  • The Viking Fund grant-in-aid for study of African-American folk music in southern U.S., 1949Harold Courlander_item_5_71
  • American Council of Learned Societies research and publication grants, 1939, 1940, 1953Harold Courlander_item_5_72
  • Ford Foundation publication grant, 1958Harold Courlander_item_5_73
  • American Library Association's "Notable Children's Books" list for The Son of the Leopard, 1975Harold Courlander_item_5_74
  • American Library Association's "Notable Children's Books" list for The Crest and the Hide, 1982Harold Courlander_item_5_75
  • Notable Children's Trade Books in the Field of Social Studies for The Crest and the Hide, 1982Harold Courlander_item_5_76


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold Courlander.