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Barbara Kukla Papers (1901 - 2012)
RepositoryNewark Public Library, Charles F. Cummings New Jersey Information Center
Collection IDMG Kukla
Size11.26 linear feet (15 document boxes and 3 oversized boxes)
Collection Description
Barbara J. Kukla was born in Kearny, NJ in 1940 and grew up in North Arlington, NJ. Her interest in journalism began when she was twelve years old and started writing for The Viking Saga, the student newspaper paper at North Arlington High School, from which she graduated in 1958. During her senior year, she was the paper's editor-in-chief. After graduating from Bloomfield College in 1963, she worked for the Bloomfield Independent Press and The Herald-News of Passaic before moving to The-Star Ledger in Newark, where she spent nearly thirty-seven years, mostly as editor of the popular "Newark This Week" section. She was also the paper's Sunday city editor for seven years.

Early in her career, Kukla interviewed Viola Wells, a Newark singer known as Miss Rhapsody who introduced her to many people in the Newark community, especially its jazz artists. Kukla's first book, "Swing City: Newark Nightlife 1925-1950" (Temple University Press, 1990) is dedicated to Miss Rhapsody. Reissued as a paperback by Rutgers University Press in 2002, it is considered the authoritative work on the Newark jazz scene.

Kukla received an MA from Rutgers University in 1984. Among other interests, she is an authority on the history of jazz in Newark, and author of two books on the subject: "Swing City: New-ark Nightlife, 1925-1950" (1990) and "America's Music: Jazz in Newark" (2015). She has also published "Defying the Odds: Triumphant Black Women of Newark" (2005) and a volume of autobiography, "Newark inside My Soul: A 50-Year Memoir" (2012), and produced six calendars about prominent Newarkers. She has lectured widely in Newark and New Jersey and has been the recipient of an honorary degree from Essex County College and numerous civic awards.

As a charter member of the Newark Public Schools Historical Preservation Committee, she also wrote the Newark Public Schools Directory of Distinguished Alumni in 2016. For many years, Kukla operated the Friends of Barbara Kukla Scholarship Fund, which raised $50,000 to aid Newark Public School children, and she sponsors a jazz competition for young musicians. She is a member of Bethany Baptist Church. Kukla has one daughter, Dashanta Faucette-Knight, and one granddaughter, LaFire Faucette.

NOTE: Selected material from this collection has been digitized, and can be accessed at
Collection Contents
Contents include clippings, flyers, leaflets, programs, other ephemera, photographs, and oversized items such as newspapers and posters related primarily to Barbara J. Kukla's career as an author and journalist. The collection is made up largely of subject files, most of them grouped by topics (music, African-American heritage and history, education, religion, politics, etc.) with a focus on Newark. The bulk of material dates from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Newark-related material in the collection is as follows:

Box 1, Biographical research material on Newark gospel singers: Janice Harrison Aikens; Banks Brothers, Dennis Bines, and the Revival Temple Mass Choir; WNJR / Bernice Bass; Madeline Bell; the Rev. Milton Biggham; Alberta Bradford; Alex Bradford; Delores Branch; the Rev. Elton T. Byrd; Janice Carr; Jean Cheek; Linda Morton Clayton; Coleman Brothers; Crusade Choir; Alvin Darling; Cookie Price Drayton; Felicia Moss Eaton; Annette Evans; A. Curtis Farrow; Hattie Fields; Francine Finley; Gwen Nelson Fleming; Vincent Freeman; Frierson Brothers; Yvette Glover; Gospel Clefs; Donnie Harper; Drinkard Sisters / Cissy Houston; Nancy Jackson Johnson; Marie Knight; Dr. Albert J. Lewis, Jr.; Anna Lundy Lewis; Donald Malloy; Stephanie Minatee and Jubilation; Brenda Mitchell; Morgan Singers; Ann Drinkard Moss; Joshua Nelson; Cyndi Bell Pinkney; Connie Pitts - Sisters; Danny Rhodes; Lawrence Roberts; Tuell Sisters (Faye Adams); Ronnie Williams; and the Rev. Peter Winstead

Box 2, Subject Files: African American Heritage Parade Committee; Black History Week -- Essex County Community College; Gospel, "A Gala Celebration Honoring Professor Leon Lumpkins"; Gospel, "Rejoice! Newark Gospel Greats" calendar [2012]

Box 3, Subject Files: Jazz, "Faces and Places: A Century of Newark Jazz" calendar [2016]; Jazz, Newark clippings; Jazz, "Newark Songbirds : Jazz through the Years" calendar [2011]; pamphlet, "John Cotton Dana: An Address by Frank Kingdon"; NJPAC material, including Arts Education (6 slides), "NJPAC Celebrates the Life of Sarah Vaughan," flyers, programs, and schedules

Box 4, Subject Files: NJPAC material, including Performing Arts magazines, "Absolut JazziLose Jazz Shrines," Quarterly Calendar, "Teachers Resource Guide for Kwanzaa Festivals," and Spotlight and Gala featuring Lionel Richie; New Jersey Symphony Orchestra programs; Newark Black Film Festival; Newark Museum events and "Narratives of African-American Art and Identity: The David C. Driscoll Collection at the Newark Museum"; Newark Public Library, John Cotton Dana distinguished lecture by Barbara Kukla; and WBGO periodicals

Box 5, Community Leaders and Groups: William Ashby; Mary and Reynold Burch; Walter D. Chambers; Kenneth E. Peterson; Charles Whigham; Connie Woodruff; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Black United Fund; Black Women United for ACES; Essex-West Hudson Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Masonic Temple (Bethany Lodge No. 31); National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women's Clubs, The North Jersey Unit

Box 6, Community Leaders and Groups: Newark Athletic Hall of Fame programs; Newark Best Friends; The New-Ark Community Coalition, press release; Newark Landmarks materials; New Jersey Federation of Colored Women's Clubs /National Association of Colored Women's Clubs; North Ward Educational and Cultural Center; Urban League of Essex County; WISOMMM, Inc. / African American Education and Cultural Resource Center; YM-YWCA; and Zonta Club of Essex County

Box 7, Education: Dr. E. Alma Flagg and Family, Marion Bolden, Phillip Haggard, and Zachary Yamba; Alpha Kappa Alpha - Beta Alpha Omega Chapter of, Scholarship Dinner Dance; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity - Eastern Regional Convention, president Thomas Flagg; "Black History and the Newspaper," instructional unit by C. J. Hatcher; Essex County College, Dr. J. Harry Smith, Keynote Address; Essex County College, 32nd Annual Commencement; Iota Phi Lambda Sorority, Phi Chapter presents Awards Luncheon, pamphlet (honors several Newark teachers); Malcolm X. Shabazz High School; National Organization of African-American Administrators; National Sorority of Delta Phi Kappa, Delta Pi Chapter 18th Annual Citation Breakfast; New Jersey Association of Black Educators, memo to Howard Green from Janice Harris Jackson; Newark Arts Education Programs;

Box 8, Education: Newark Board of Education , Handbook for Teachers; Newark Public Schools; "Newark Stars on Parade"; Newark Teachers' Strike, anti-strike flyer; Newark Teacher's Union, "The Future of Public School Education"; Weequahic Alumni Association, Alvin Attles Scholarship Fundraising Dinner

Box 9, Politics: Hugh Addonizio; Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones, includes correspondence; John Caufield; Mildred Crump; Kenneth A. Gibson; Frank Hague, speech; Sharpe James

Box 10, Politics: Wynona Lipman; Donald Payne; George Richardson; Larrie Stalks; Craig A. Stanley; Donald Tucker; Calvin West; Harry Wheeler; and Subject Files: City of Newark publications, brochures, pamphlets; Minority Contractors and Craftsmen Trade Association; and Newark Citizens' Advisory Board, conference

Box 11, Subject Files: Newark City Council, including John Thomas's address re: the Crispus Attucks Day Parade, and election material; Newark Mayoral Election, including Addonizio v. Gibson run-off, campaign literature, handbills, etc.; and TEAM mixer

Box 12, Religion: African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. John W. P. Collier Jr.; Bethany Baptist Church; Central Presbyterian Church, retirement banquet honoring the Rev. Henry Cade; Metropolitan Baptist Church; The New Hope Baptist Church, "Founder's Day anniversary and mortgage burning"; Newark churches, pastors, and religious leaders; Philemon Baptist Church --52 Years; Saint Michael's Russian Orthodox Church, Ninetieth Anniversary; Trinity/St. Philip's Cathedral ; and Union Baptist Church, 90th Anniversary

Box 13, Miscellaneous Biographical: funeral programs and cards; Newark and New Jersey Women - biographical materials; obituaries; and programs

Box 14, Miscellaneous Conferences and Newark, general: New Jersey Historical Society, Preserving the Built Environment; Newark Urban Conference; Newark Peace Education Summit; Women's Issues Conferences; Black Historic Places Survey (Newark); Ironbound booklets /ads; James M. Baxter Terrace: A Souvenir Book of Love; Kenney Memorial Hospital; Krueger Scott Mansion; Lists; Luso-Americano, "Celebracao do 75 Aniversario"; Merlin Archive Wire Photograph Copies with News Wire Captions (mostly Newark); Newark, Hagstrom Map; Newark History pamphlets; Newark History, photocopies of Newark Evening News articles; Newark Riots 1967, excerpt (pp. 74 -85) from Tom Hayden's "Rebellion in Newark"; Newark Women, Narrative for Tableaux Newark Women of the Century, by Mariana H. Barker; clippings, including Kawaida Tower; "The Puerto Ricans in Newark"; and UMDNJ, Newark Agreements and Collected Concerns

Box 15, photographs: Arts and Culture; Athletes; CFCNJIC copies; Community Groups and Community Leaders; Education; Emily Miles fashion shows; Al Henderson Photos; Sharpe James; Martin Luther King and related (Newark Walk for Understanding, Black Panthers reaction); Law and Military; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Newark Boys Chorus; Newark Museum; Newark Places; People; Politicians; Keisha Knight Pulliam; Religion -- Pastors and Churches; and Ralph Villani

Oversize 1, Black History Week poster (ECC); City of Newark Sponsored Events (programs, press release, First Night and Let's Celebrate); Gospel calendar materials; Newark - Education; Newark, a City on the Move calendar

Oversize 2, Newark Arts; Newark City Life - Newark Collaboration Group; Newark Public Schools (calendar, "State Run Newark Schools in Chaos," Marion Bolden sign, Community News); Politics - Newark Monthly (Calvin West ad); Star Ledger clippings (Knowing Newark, Newark This Week, arts, and Black History month)

Oversize 3: issues of New Jersey Herald News; Newark Evening News - Gibson Wins; and Newark Star Ledger
FormatsDigital materials; Photographic materials; Textual materials
SubjectsAfrican-American History / Civil Rights; Education; Music; Politics and Government; Women's History
Time Periods20th Century; 21st Century
Access policyOpen for research
Finding AidYes
Finding Aid URL