Percival Bryan: An Unlikely Autograph Collector

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This image of Bryan was probably taken during Attorney General Cummings golf tournament in 1948.

Percival Bryan was a leading autograph collector from Jamaica who settled in the northeast section of Washington, D.C., east of the Anacostia River.  In 1941 Mr. Bryan became a United States citizen and started his career as a driver.  His interest in collecting autographs began while serving as chauffeur for U. S. Attorney General Homer S. Cummings.  F or Bryan, his autograph books provided a record of  the “pulse of the public” and contributed to the nation’s history.

The Percival Bryan collection at the Anacostia Community Museum contains 298 of his autograph books.  Within these books are the signatures of known and unknown individuals, poems, sketches, and a few watercolors.  By the end of his career Bryan was a D.C. cab driver and had collected over 160,000 signatures.  He encouraged everyone from members of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s cabinet to participants in the 1963 March on Washington to make their mark in his books.  Bryan even sought the “John Hancock” of everyday passengers in his cab.  You can help us identify the famous and not so famous signatures in Bryan’s collection by transcribing his very first autograph book.  Select the link  below to look inside  and transcribe!