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Personal papers of Moses Gunn

Call Number: PP 463


Moses Gunn attended the University of Kansas from 1959-1961 in pursuit of a master's degree, but left to professionally pursue acting and did not finish the required coursework until 1989. He became a well-known actor of stage, film, and television. This collection of papers documents his acting career.


  • Creation: 1959 - 1994


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Moses Gunn

Born in St. Louis, Missouri on October 2, 1929, Moses Gunn left his home at the age of 12 to jump trains. Around high school age, he returned to St. Louis to the care of teacher Jewel Richie, who became like a mother to him.

Gunn attended and graduated from Tennessee State University some time in the 1950s after a stint in the army, where he was stationed in Germany. From 1959-1961, Gunn attended the University of Kansas for a master's degree but did not complete the coursework at that time, leaving early to pursue an acting career in New York City.

In his early years in NYC, Gunn was involved in many national touring stage productions and regional reperatory theaters. In 1964 while at the Antioch Shakespeare Festival, Gunn met Gwen Mumma Landes. The two married in 1966. Gwen already had a daughter, Kirsten, and the couple would eventually have a son, Justin, in 1970.

In 1968, Moses helped co-found the Negro Ensemble Company, which he stayed with until the early 1970s. Also during that decade, Gunn's career began to include roles in television and film production. While Gunn had a prolific career, he was best known for his roles in Shaft, Father Murphy, The Never Ending Story, and several other productions about which information is included in this collection.

In the spring of 1989, Gunn finished his master's degree at the University of Kansas, acting alongside KU professor William (Bill) Kuhlke in I'm Not Rappaport.

In 1991, Gunn began to have health issues associated with his asthma and was in and out of the hospital over the next 3 years. On December 16, 1993, Gunn died.


18.5 Linear Feet (19 boxes + 6 oversize boxes, 1 oversize folder)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

The Moses Gunn collection provides documentation about Gunn's career, including scripts and other working files, head shots and other photographs, contracts, correspondence, newspaper clippings and promotional information, honors and awards, show posters, and other related materials; his travels and personal life, including biographical information and condolence cards to his wife Gwen upon his death; African American life in the United States and other African American actors and celebrities; and information from and about Gunn's involvement with the University of Kansas.

The materials are not organized; documentation about a topic may be scattered across several boxes. The bulk of the collection concerns Gunn's career on stage and screen. Some scripts in the collection may be annotated to various degrees by Gunn; several scripts, however, are not.

Physical Location

PP 463

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Transfer, University of Kansas Department of Theater. Gift, Gwen Gunn.

Separated Materials

Several artifacts were included with this collection but are housed in a separate space in University Archives. Among these items are assorted cufflinks, pins, a mask from Titus Andronicus, and honorary awards.

Guide to the Moses Gunn Collection
Personal papers of Moses Gunn
Finding aid prepared by pb, 2008. Finding aid encoded by pb, 2008. Finding aid revised by jrw, 2015.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Support for processing portions of this collection was provided by the G. Baley Price Spencer Research Library Fellowship Fund.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Personal papers of Moses Gunn, PP 463, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States