Payne Theological Seminary

The history of Payne Theological Seminary, one of the nation’s oldest African American seminaries is now at your fingertips, thanks to a collaboration between Payne and Princeton Theological Seminary.

With funding from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundation, Payne Theological Seminary is actively digitizing materials from its historical archives and contributing the digitized versions to the Theological Commons. The collection will contain curated, contextualized subcollections of images and textual materials for the study of the history of the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E) denomination and Black Church tradition while chronicling the leadership and legacy of Payne Theological Seminary.

The records available for research include blueprints, handwritten manuscripts, rare books, bulletins and photos that date back to the 1800s which document the establishment of the Black Church in America to the physical changes and developments of a number of AME Educational Institutions.

This unique digital archive is publicly accessible at the Theological Commons.

For information about the project contact Seminary Archivist Shanee’ Murrain at

Ntozake Shange Collection

(Source: Barnard College, Media Relations, Press Release,

Poet, playwright, novelist and black feminist Ntozake Shange’s, Ph.D., earliest work can be traced back to the late 1960s when she was in high school.  This foundational work along with an early drafts of the Obie Award-winning play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” and many others are a part of the significant collection acquired by the Barnard Library Archives and Special Collections.

Shange, Barnard College class of 1970 and former fellow of the Guggenheim Foundation and the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund, decided she wanted her collection to be maintained at the College because it’s where all of her formative artistic, political and intellectual experiences took place.

“I feel as though I came of age as a feminist and an artist at Barnard.  I formed the basis of my critical thinking in English and history classes. I was a member of conscious-raising groups, the antiwar movement and black-student movement.  I got all that I ever imagined from an all-women’s college, and I thought my archives belonged here,” Shange said.

The 31-linear-foot collection tells the story of Shange’s life and career and focuses on issues of race and feminism.  Items range from personal diaries, a quill pen and personal artwork to a photo album from the poetic narrative, “The Sweet Breath of Life: A Poetic Narrative of African American Family” and a typescript manuscript of “Some Sing, Some Cry.”

“We are so incredibly grateful to have such a significant collection where scholars can view personal photos, letters, and annotated books that influenced her work next to published poetry and artwork to literally trace the life of a dynamic writer, like Dr. Shange,” Shannon O’Neill, Barnard College associate director of Archives and Special Collections, said.

For more information about Barnard College and the Shange collection, contact Media Relations at or 212-854-2037.

Rare Copy of David Walker’s Appeal

(Source:  Press release, Emory News Center, Tuesday, March 7, 2016)

A rare first edition of David Walker’s 19th century anti-slavery book, “Appeal,” owned and signed by W.E.B. Du Bois, has been obtained by Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, with a generous grant from the B.H. Breslauer Foundation and additional support from other individuals.

Written and published in 1829 in Boston by Walker, a self-educated African American merchant, “Appeal” is considered one of the most important documents in African American history. Its full title is “Walker’s Appeal, in Four Articles, Together with A Preamble to the Colored Citizens of the World, But in Particular, and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America.”

Only half a dozen copies of early editions of “Appeal” are known to exist, and only two known first editions can be found in libraries, according to the Rose Library’s curator of research Randall Burkett.

The first edition at Emory is stamped with Du Bois’ ownership signature on the title page, and his holograph signature is on the front fly. The book also contains Du Bois’ extensive marginal markings.

“One of the most compelling aspects of this work is that it addresses some of the questions that continue to challenge us today,” says Rosemary Magee, director of the Rose Library.

Kevin Young, curator of literary collections and of the Rose Library’s Danowski Poetry Library, echoed that sentiment in a comment to The New York Times. “The book is testament to a line of black protest and prophecy that stretches from Walker to Du Bois to #blacklivesmatter,” he said. “Seeing it and the markings it’s almost as if Du Bois’s lines in the text make that literal.”

In his autobiography, “Dusk of Dawn,” Du Bois called Walker’s “Appeal” “that tremendous indictment of slavery,” recognizing its importance as the first “program of organized opposition to the action and attitude of the dominant white group.”

According to the late American historian Herbert Aptheker, “Walker’s ‘Appeal’ is the first sustained written assault upon slavery and racism to come from a black man in the United States.” The publication was considered so radical and revolutionary in its call to arms that even abolitionists condemned it as inflammatory.

“The book itself is a landmark of political protest and eloquent articulation of the demand for freedom for people of African descent in the United States,” says Pellom McDaniels III, curator of African American Collections in the Rose Library. “It is as important for African American political and social history as Thomas Paine’s ‘Rights of Man’; it is a demand for freedom and a call to arms.”

To view complete article, go to Emory acquires anti-slavery “Appeal”

Rosa Parks Archive

Source: By Jennifer Schuessler, ArtsBeat, New York Times, February 25, 2016 12:01 am

The Library of Congress has digitized the papers of Rosa Parks, enabling free online access to everything from her first-hand recollections of the Montgomery bus boycott and personal correspondence with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to family photographs, tax returns and a handwritten recipe for “featherlite pancakes.”

(To view entire article visit here: Library of Congress Puts Rosa Parks Archives Online.)

Manning Marable Book Collection

(Source: John Jay College of Criminal Justice, John Jay News, October 4, 2015)

The family of the late Dr. Manning Marable, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who received an honorary doctorate from John Jay College in 2006, has donated his collection of authored books to John Jay’s Prison-to-College Pipeline initiative at the upstate Otisville Correctional Facility (New York).

Marable, who died in April 2011 at age 60, was a professor of African-American studies at Columbia University. He had informed his family that one of his passing wishes was to make his work available to incarcerated individuals. John Jay’s work in educating incarcerated people made it an appropriate choice for receiving the bequest.

Marable was the M. Moran Weston and Black Alumni Council Professor of African American Studies and professor of history and public affairs at Columbia University. He was founding director of African American Studies at Columbia from 1993 to 2003, and directed Columbia’s Center for Contemporary Black History. The author of fifteen books, Marable was also the editor of Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society.   His last book, Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, was published shortly after his death to great acclaim, and earned him the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in History.

To view complete article go to Book Collection of late Historian Manning Marable Donated

Emmett Till

(Source:  by Devin Galetta, Florida State 24/7,  University Communications, Florida State University, September 25, 2015 press release)

Till’s death helped galvanize the civil rights movement in America, and Friday, Aug. 28, marks the 60th anniversary of his murder. Till, 14, was kidnapped, beaten and shot after he allegedly flirted with a white woman.

 “We’re very excited for this project because there is just simply nothing like it,” said Houck, a faculty member in the College of Communication and Information who authored “Emmett Till and the Mississippi Press.” “We’ve spent 20 years accumulating this material, most of which involved travel to Mississippi and archives around the South. It’s long past due that we had a ‘one-stop-archive’ for all things Emmett Till, and with this collection, we’ll finally have that.”

The collection will feature newspaper coverage from the Till murder trial and court proceedings by domestic and international press, and materials from FBI investigations, court records and interview transcripts.

Author Devery Anderson will contribute a comprehensive collection of newspaper articles, genealogical work, interview transcriptions and obscure magazine articles used to write his recently released book, “Emmett Till: The Murder That Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement.” Anderson’s research not only tells the story of the Till case as it unfolded in 1955, but follows the case to the present day, incorporating the FBI’s investigation and source materials, including a complete trial transcript.

Interviews and oral histories gathered by filmmaker Keith Beauchamp for his Emmy-nominated documentary, “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till,” will also comprise part of the archive. Beauchamp’s research was pivotal in convincing the FBI to re-open the case in 2004 — an investigation that resulted in more than 8,000 pages of important material.

“These materials from some of the nation’s foremost Emmett Till researchers will be a great addition to our archives and an outstanding resource for students, researchers and civil rights historians worldwide,” said Katie McCormick, associate dean for Special Collections and Archives.

The collection will be available beginning in 2016 at the Special Collections Research Center at Strozier Library. For updates on the Till collection and further information on FSU’s Special Collections and Archives, visit FSU Special Collections & Archives.

Toni Morrison Papers

(Source: Posted on October 17, 2014 by Don Skemer, RBSC Manuscripts Division News, Princeton University Library)

Princeton University is pleased to announce that the Papers of Toni Morrison, celebrated American author and Nobel Laureate, have found their permanent home in the Princeton University Library. President Christopher L. Eisgruber made the announcement on Friday, October 17, in Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium, during the conference Coming Back: Reconnecting Princeton’s Black Alumni. “Toni Morrison’s place among the giants of American literature is firmly entrenched, and I am overjoyed that we are adding her papers to the Princeton University Library’s collections,” said Princeton President Eisgruber. “This extraordinary resource will provide scholars and students with unprecedented insights into Professor Morrison’s remarkable life and her magnificent, influential literary works. We at Princeton are fortunate that Professor Morrison brought her brilliant talents as a writer and teacher to our campus 25 years ago, and we are deeply honored to house her papers and to help preserve her inspiring legacy.”

Morrison’s papers will be among the most important collections in the Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, which has extensive holdings of modern literary and publishing archives. In the next year, priority will be given to the arrangement, description, cataloging, preservation, and selective digitization of the papers, in order to make them available for research consultation.

The Papers of Toni Morrison contain approximately 180 linear feet of research materials that document the author’s life, work, and writing methods. The papers have been gathered from many locations over time, beginning with manuscripts and other original materials that the Library’s Preservation Office recovered and conserved after the tragic fire in 1993 at the author’s home in Rockland County, New York. Most important are manuscripts, drafts, proofs, and related files pertaining to Morrison’s novels on the African American experience: The Bluest Eye (1970), Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997), Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), and Home (2012). The working materials provide additional evidence of the author’s approach to the physical act of writing.

Also included are similar materials for the author’s play Dreaming Emmett, children’s books, short fiction, song lyrics, an opera libretto, lectures, and non-fiction writing, as well as extensive literary and professional correspondence, fan mail, diaries and appointment books, photographs, audiobooks, videotapes, juvenilia, memorabilia, course materials, annotated student papers, academic office files, and press clippings. Complementing the papers are printed editions of Morrison’s published works and translations into more than twenty languages. Additional manuscripts and papers will be added over time, beginning with the manuscript of Morrison’s forthcoming novel.

(To read the complete press release, see The Papers of Toni Morrison come to Princeton).

Yale Acquires Poetry Records

(Source: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Library News, October 6, 2014)

The Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Yale University has acquired the records of Cave Canem Foundation, among the nation’s most influential organizations supporting African American poetry.

“The Cave Canem archive is an incomparable record of the African American poetry community over the past two decades,” says Nancy Kuhl, curator of poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Library. “We welcome the opportunity to both serve the Cave Canem community as steward and caretaker of its archival record, and to collaborate as partners in preserving and promoting the archive for future poets, readers, students, and scholars.”

Poets Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady founded Cave Canem in 1996 to remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in MFA programs and writing workshops. The organization has become an influential movement with a renowned faculty and a national fellowship of nearly 400 poets. Its programs include an annual weeklong writing retreat, book prizes, community-based workshops, publications and national readings.

“Our records chart the growth of Cave Canem the community and Cave Canem the organization, and also tell the story of a rapidly changing literary landscape,” says Cave Canem’s executive director Alison Meyers. “Our hope is that the archive will help illuminate the essential contributions of contemporary Black poets to American art and thought. We’re very pleased that Cave Canem’s history will live on in the Beinecke’s James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection, a fitting home.”

Cave Canem Foundation archive, which approximately covers from 1997 to 2012, contains paper and digital office files and records, including correspondence, financial reports, and operational materials documenting such activities as fundraising, governance, programming, and publication projects. As part of The James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of African American Arts and Letters, the archive will join a world-class collection of materials documenting African American arts and culture.

(For complete article, see Beinecke Library Acquires Records of Cave Canem Foundation).

Black Film Center Archive

Black film advocate Mary Perry Smith donates large collection to IU’s Black Film Center/Archive

Saturday, April 19, 2014

(Source: News, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, Indiana University.

The Indiana University Black Film Center/Archive has received a donated collection from black film advocate and lifelong educator Mary Perry Smith, co-founder of the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

Smith, born in Evansville, Ind., in 1926 and who currently lives in Oakland, Calif., donated the collection after meeting in 2013 with Michael T. Martin, director of the Black Film Center/Archive, and archivist Brian Graney. Smith recalled that the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame had influenced the establishment of the Black Film Center/Archive in 1981, and said she had provided early mentorship to the center’s founding director, Phyllis Klotman.

This unique collection comprises over 300 linear feet of records, audiovisual materials, publications and memorabilia from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. Included in the collection is the original grave maker of Oscar Micheaux, the first African American filmmaker to produce a feature-length film, in 1919.

The donation and transfer of the collection to Indiana University proceeded with major support from the College of Arts and Sciences, the Indiana University Foundation and Indiana University Libraries.

Once the collection is processed by archivists, it will be made available for researchers at the Black Film Center/Archive, located in the Herman B Wells Library at IU Bloomington. Audiovisual materials in the collection will be processed for digitization through the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative, a $15 million initiative announced by IU President Michael A. McRobbie in October 2013.

“The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame collection is a treasure,” Graney said. “It illuminates the black presence in film history and adds to our historical understanding of the growth of black filmmaking — both Hollywood and independent — over the late 20th century.”

Martin added that the collection will enrich the campus’s growing film culture and provide teaching and research resources for The Media School, which will unite the faculties of the School of Journalism, the Department of Communication and Culture and the Department of Telecommunications on July 1.

“The potential of this collection is enormous, and it will contribute significantly to the film renaissance that’s been ongoing on the IU Bloomington campus,” he said. “It will have a palpable impact on the study of film — in particular black film — and on media in general.”

The Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame is recognized today for its groundbreaking research to document the historical contributions of black artists in film and television, and for its support of independent film and video artists expressing more positive and multi-dimensional black screen images. For 20 years, the organization hosted the annual Oscar Micheaux Awards and other programs including symposia and film festivals.

The donated collection from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame also includes the following unique items:

  • An oil painting of Madame Sul-Te-Wan, an actress in the early 20th century and the daughter of freed slaves.
  • Costumes, including items worn by the dancing team the Nicholas Brothers and American actress, poet and playwright Ruby Dee.
  • Original Hollywood musical scores and arrangements by musician Phil Moore, who became the first African American composer on staff at a major studio when he joined MGM Studios in 1942.

LC Gets Oral History Archive

Library of Congress Gets African-American Oral History Archive

The iconic library has acquired The HistoryMakers archive of iconic interviews detailing African-American life, history and culture.

By: Breanna Edwards

 (Source: The Root, Posted: June 24 2014 4:07 PM)

The Library of Congress is now the home of The HistoryMakers collection, which details the black experience in America, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced on Tuesday.

“The HistoryMakers archive provides invaluable first-person accounts of both well-known and unsung African-Americans, detailing their hopes, dreams and accomplishments—often in the face of adversity,” Billington said in a press release. “This culturally important collection is a rich and diverse resource for scholars, teachers, students and documentarians seeking a more complete record of our nation’s history and its people.”

Consisting of thousands of hours of content and including 14,000 analog tapes, 3,000 DVDs, 6,000 “born-digital” files, 70,000 paper documents and digital files, and more than 3,000 digital photographs, The HistoryMakers is just about the largest project of its type, founder and Executive Director Julieanna Richardson noted.

“The HistoryMakers represents the single largest archival project of its kind since the Works Progress Administration’s initiative to document the experiences of former slaves in the 1930s,” Richardson explained. “This relationship with the Library of Congress represents a momentous occasion for our organization. With the Library of Congress serving as our permanent repository, we are assured of its preservation and safekeeping for generations to come.”

The library was given the digital files with all of the analog tapes, consisting of approximately 2,600 videotaped interviews with black Americans in 39 states.

“The collection is one of the most well-documented and organized audiovisual collections that the Library of Congress has ever acquired,” Mike Mashon, head of the library’s Moving Image Section, said in the release. “It is also one of the first born-digital collections accepted into our nation’s repository.”

The HistoryMakers was launched in the summer of 1999 as a nonprofit research and educational institution, set on creating an archival collection of oral histories. Richardson and her team have been to almost 300 U.S. cities and towns and have traveled as far as Norway in hopes of capturing the missing stories of American history.