Historic Agreement: Cal State Dominguez Hills New Home to Mayme Clayton Collection


Cal State Dominguez Hills’ University Library will be the new home to the Mayme A. Clayton Collection of African American History and Culture.

In a new partnership facilitated by Supervisor Ridley-Thomas, who has championed the preservation of the Mayme. A Clayton Collection of African American History and Culture that chronicles African American history in the United States, the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum (MCLM) has signed an historic agreement with California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) to be the new home of its groundbreaking collection. The MCLM collection of African American history and artifacts will now be held and exhibited on the CSUDH campus for the public and students to view.

“This collection of African American history and culture is a vital thread in the fabric of Los Angeles County and our nation as whole,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “With Cal State Dominguez Hills serving as a responsible steward for the collection, future generations will be able to know the joy, excitement and inspiration of seeing these artifacts and learning from them,” he added.

Mayme Clayton in 1973. Photo by Art Rogers, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times Photographic Archive, UCLA Library.

Once received, CSUDH will carefully catalogue and archive the collection to make the works and artifacts more accessible to the public than ever before. The campus is a well-suited recipient for the collection as it is rooted in social justice with a diverse demographic of students. Housing the collection at the university will provide more opportunities for the power of education to evoke transformative change in dismantling individual and systemic racism.

“Anchoring the collection at the CSUDH campus is a profound statement regarding the ability of a community entity to entrust a valued family heirloom to an institution of higher education,” said CSDUH President Thomas A. Parham. Parham envisions the university serving as a model of critical discourse and analysis on the topics of race and culture that ultimately lead to change and inspiring other institutions to do the same.

“When individuals have access to materials that invite them to challenge their biases and assumptions and enables them to enhance their knowledge base about people of different cultures, the collection then serves as an empowering community asset,” said CSUDH’s University Library Dean Stephanie Brasley.

Providing students, scholars, and the public access to these relics will encourage conversation and action surrounding equity and justice. As important dialogue and advocacy continue, community and regional leaders are listening. Recently, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the first-of-its-kind anti-racist motion for LA County. To advance similar policies, it is crucial to have comprehensive historical resources like this collection to share and reference in paving a way forward for equity.

The collection of over 2 million rare books, films, documents, photographs, artifacts, and works of art were gathered over the course of 40 years by MCLM’s founder Mayme Agnew Clayton, Ph.D. (1923-2006) who recognized that African American contributions are foundational to American history and must be highlighted accurately. Dr. Clayton was also cognizant of the vulnerability of these treasures to be lost, destroyed, and retold erroneously.

With its new home at CSUDH, Dr. Clayton’s collection will be taken care of and responsibly shared with utmost diligence. “I cannot think of a better way to honor Dr. Mayme Clayton’s vision and legacy—who I had the pleasure of knowing—than to return her collection to their university roots,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.