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Herbert Woodward Martin Papers

Identifier: UASC-038

Scope and Contents

The Herbert Woodward Martin papers provides a window into the life and career of poet and Paul Laurence Dunbar expert Herbert Woodward Martin. This collection is mostly comprised of material related to his writing and performing career, spanning from the 1970s through the present day. Though there is some material related to his private life and teaching career, the bulk of the material documents his poetry, with several drafts of various anthologies and poems. There are also programs and newspaper articles documenting his performing career, with readings of both his own poetry and Paul Laurence Dunbar's.

The collection also includes correspondence, journals that have published Martin's work, posters, audio and video recordings on VHS, cassette tapes, CDS, and nine 7-inch reels of magnetic tape.


  • 1895 - 2015
  • Majority of material found within 1963 - 2015

Biography of Herbert Woodward Martin

Herbert Woodward Martin was born in October of 1933 in Birmingham Alabama, to a foundry worker and a homemaker. At the age of twelve, he and his family moved to Toledo, Ohio, where much of his extended family lived.

In 1960, Martin spent time in New York City, working for a publishing house. This helped expose him to other writers, giving him the confidence to first read his writing in a coffee-house in Manhattan. There, Martin would make connections with the poetry world that he would maintain for the rest of his career. He received a Bachelor’s of Arts in English from the University of Toledo in 1964. He continued his education at the Bread Loaf school of English at Middlebury College, attaining a Master of Letters in 1972. In 1979, he received a Doctorate of Arts from Carnegie-Mellon University, with his dissertation The Log of the Vigilante.

In 1972, Martin hosted a celebration of Paul Laurence Dunbar in celebration of the centennial of the poet’s birth. Dozens of prominent African-American poets found their way to the University of Dayton to celebrate Dunbar and his poetry. It was at this event that Martin was awakened to the Dunbar’s poetry. Throughout the rest of Martin’s career, he was tied irrevocably to Paul Laurence Dunbar. Martin would routinely perform as the Dayton native, aided by a physical resemblance. Martin would wear period costume and would perform Dunbar’s poetry and sing hymns, bringing Dunbar’s words to life.

For over 25 years, Martin served as a professor and poet-in-residence at the University of Dayton. While there he taught classes on poetry writing and African-American literature. He would routinely appear at university events and read his poetry.

Martin married Elizabeth Susan “Sue” Altman in 1979. They have two daughters and currently reside in Dayton, Ohio.


7.25 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



The Herbert Martin collection is divided into eleven series.

Missing Title

  1. Series 1: Events
  2. Series 2: Publications
  3. Series 3: Correspondence
  4. Series 4: E-Mail
  5. Series 5: Dunbar Material
  6. Series 6: Class Material
  7. Series 7: Personal Papers
  8. Series 8: Press
  9. Series 9: Writings
  10. Series 10: Writings by Others
  11. Series 11: Audiovisual Material
  • Poetry Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
  • Poets, American Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University Libraries Repository

300 College Park Dr.
Dayton Ohio 45469-1360