The First "Update": Starting a trend and sharing my progress

Hello Harlem Prep alumni and friends,

I hope you all are well! A quick note before I get started: I want to thank each of you who have helped me with this project so far. I am extremely grateful for your kindness and patience in doing so, and for not only taking the time out of your busy lives to speak/write/contact me, but most of all, for entrusting me with your stories of Harlem Prep. I remain deeply humbled by it all.

Thank you for visiting this website and -- finally! -- as promised, I would like to begin providing semi-frequent updates about the progress of this project. These posts will consist of a few things: notes or snippets about what I am writing about or working on, new "discoveries" of photos or documents I have found, or just the sharing of a fascinating document from my collection that you might find interesting. (Also note that when I include links to documents, they will be underlined and in blue, so make sure to click them!)

So, without further ado, here we go! In terms of my writing progress, I am still focusing on finding everything I can about Harlem Prep, particularly speaking with alumni. (Please contact me if you would be willing to share your experiences about Harlem Prep.) I've "collected" and analyzed over 700 documents -- that's a lot, I know! -- pertaining to Harlem Prep, and by the end of this month, going to finish sketching out a chapter-by-chapter outline of what the dissertation/book on Harlem Prep will entail. Perhaps in my next update, I'll be able to share this outline. I'll also go over where I've collected these 700+ documents, too, and talk more about my research process, etc.

In the meantime, however, I want to share a bunch of exciting things I am working on now for this current update:

1) Student records at Park East High School: In 1981, Harlem Prep merged with Park East High School in East Harlem, and I found that most of Harlem Prep's student records are still there in an old basement storage space. I am in touch with some of their staff, who said that I would be able to search for student records. How exciting, right? However, I am unable to access them without your permission, so if you are interested in obtaining copies of your records, please contact me ASAP via e-mail at, and I will look for yours and send them to you if I find them. (For those who have already contacted me, I will be reaching out to you shortly about next steps.)

2) New, amazing pictures of Harlem Prep!: After doing some digging -- and shout out to Peter Hopson (Class of '71) for the tip about Al Burley, the photographer for the Amsterdam News -- I found 27 photos of Ed Carpenter and Harlem Prep students at Cornell University, hidden away in an archive. As of last week, I now have copies of them in beautiful, high quality color, and you can view/download them here yourself. There are some really amazing photographs, so please enjoy! (When you click the link, they may take some time to load. To download them, once the page loads, click the three BLACK DOTS in the top right hand corner of the screen, and then click DOWNLOAD.)

3) "Four Women" film, created in 1971 by Harlem Prep student: After some more detective-like work via the discovery of an old newspaper article, I have found that the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has a 16mm reel of this film. This film, entitled "Four Women," is a 7 minute film of live footage of Prep dancers interpreting Nina Simone's song about Black women, filmed and produced by Harlem Prep student Ilanga Witt. I have made an appointment to view this film on Friday, and will report back! I hope to make a copy somehow, if possible, and if I can, I will certainly share it.

I have much, much more I can share, but I'll leave it here for now! This is just the start, and encourage you to post comments, share this page, or contact me for any thoughts/questions that you might have. (Please sign up at if you have not done so and would like to receive these updates via e-mail.) Thanks again for reading and be in touch!