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About This Site Scene from Barrelhouse Blues.

In 1991, Katherine Dunham generously donated portions of her massive collection to the Missouri Historical Society (MHS). These items represent many decades of her dance and film career, global activism, and anthropological interest. The site includes a sampling of images of artifacts (dresses, masks, shoes) located in the Missouri Historical Society Museum Collections facility and several photographs that are housed in the Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collection.

This online exhibition is divided into the following sections:

A Life in Profile: includes background biographical information on Katherine Dunham and her immediate family.

Anthropologist: describes Katherine Dunham’s scholarly pursuits and details how her anthropological studies influenced the Dunham Dance Technique.

Dancer: focuses on Miss Dunham’s personal dance career and her significant impact on the art form despite a lifelong battle with arthritis in her legs.

A Life in Profile
Dunham Dance Technique
Film Career
Global Activist
Collections and Conservation

Dunham Dance Technique: provides information on how this dance style developed and why it made such an impact on the dance world.

Film Career: highlights some of the many movies in which Katherine Dunham and her Dance Troupe performed and includes the films that Miss Dunham choreographed.

Global Activist: reveals Katherine Dunham’s stance against social, cultural, and racial inequalities.

Legacy: examines the variety of people that Katherine Dunham influenced throughout her life.

MHS Collections & Conservation: shares the Dunham collections at the Missouri Historical Society and describes the efforts to preserve those holdings.

A special thank you to the Morris Library, Special Collections Research Center at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale; Professor Cheikh Ndiaye, Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Union College, Schenectady, New York; and Ayoka Chenzira, Director of the Digital Moving Image Salon at Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia, for permission to reprint images from their collections on this site. Special recognition to the staff and board of the Katherine Dunham Dynamic Museum, 532 N. 10th Street East St. Louis, IL 62201, for their continued efforts to keep Miss Dunham’s legacy alive.

Katherine Dunham lived a varied and complex life. For this website the Missouri Historical Society chose the themes that we consider best to represent her legendary status. It is impossible for one source to be all-inclusive when describing a person of so many interests. If more detailed information is needed, click on Educational Materials button at the bottom of the introductory web page.

Use of Content

Certain restrictions and copyright laws protect the images, documentation, electronic text, media files, and other resources. The Missouri Historical Society retains the right to text, images, and other information on this site. Other individuals or organizations (as listed on this site) may maintain additional property and copyrights in addition to those of the Missouri Historical Society. Copying or any other form of duplication of any and all protected material on this site is, except for purposes of fair use, expressly prohibited by the Missouri Historical Society.

Fair Use

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Section 107 sets out four factors to be considered in determining whether or not a particular use is fair:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
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The distinction between “fair use” and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

The 1961 Report of the Register of Copyrights on the General Revision of the U.S. Copyright Law cites examples of activities that courts have regarded as fair use: “quotation of excerpts in a review or criticism for purposes of illustration or comment; quotation of short passages in a scholarly or technical work, for illustration or clarification of the author’s observations; use in a parody of some of the content of the work parodied; summary of an address or article, with brief quotations, in a news report; reproduction by a library of a portion of a work to replace part of a damaged copy; reproduction by a teacher or student of a small part of a work to illustrate a lesson; reproduction of a work in legislative or judicial proceedings or reports; incidental and fortuitous reproduction, in a newsreel or broadcast, of a work located in the scene of an event being reported.”

Copyright protects the particular way an author has expressed himself; it does not extend to any ideas, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work.

The safest course is always to get permission from the copyright owner before using copyrighted material. The Copyright Office cannot give this permission.

When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of “fair use” would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered “fair” nor advise on possible copyright violations. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
FL-102, Revised December 2005

The above information is taken directly from the United States Copyright Office website. June 9, 2006.

Users downloading, copying, or otherwise using the material within this website will automatically agree to the terms and conditions listed above and will not thereby violate any copyright or property rights. 

 For questions about this site, contact Lisa Sisley-Blinn, Web Coordinator.


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