When Death Means the Loss of an Archive
By DANIEL J. WAKIN
Published: May 18, 2005
Joe Nash's vast archive on black dance in America made him a leading figure in the dance world. It also may have helped kill him.
Last Thanksgiving, he stumbled over a pile of materials in his packed apartment in a West Harlem housing project. As he fell, he clutched at a stack of books, which tumbled down on him, according to Rashidah Ismaili AbuBakr, a friend who took care of him. Mr. Nash, a lecturer and essayist whose flowing African robes made him a familiar figure at dance events in New York, lay on the floor for five days, until friends heard his cry for help, she said. "Every single room was storage - his bathroom, his bedroom," Ms. AbuBakr said. "He just had enough space to lay down."