Researching Hip Hop Culture

By Graham Bryant ’13

(Source: William & Mary News & Events, April 5, 2013)

Antiquated manuscripts, rare books and memorabilia from the William & Mary’s storied history are all among the items one would expect to find when searching through Swem Library’s Special Collections.

Among the letters, artifacts and other scholarly records from ages past, researchers will soon be able to discover such artifacts as SMILES Crew’s first boombox or a cassette tape of Mighty MCs recordings.

On April 19, Special Collections will launch the William & Mary Hip-Hop Collection, the most comprehensive collection of its kind devoted to chronicling Virginia’s hip-hop past from the 1980s to the present through oral histories, recordings, publications and other ephemera created by Virginia-based artists, collectives and businesses.

“We, as an institution, have been collecting music for a century. What prompted the vision of starting a hip-hop collection is the need to look at the space we are at in the history of hip-hop,” said Amy Schindler, university archivist and Acting Marian and Alan McLeod Director of the Special Collections Research Center.

“Hip-hop has been around since the 1970s, and we’re in a space now where some of the early people are no longer with us. We need to work with people now to get that history,” she added.

NOTE:  Graham Bryant’s complete article can be viewed at New collection documents Virginia’s hip-hop history.

African American Photograph Collection

(Source:  By Maureen McGavin and Elaine Justice, June 1, 2012, Emory University Media Relations, Emory News Center)

A rare collection of more than 10,000 photographs depicting African American life from the late 19th and early 20th centuries has been acquired by Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) from photo collector Robert Langmuir of Philadelphia.

The images range from the 1840s – the beginning of photography – to the 1970s, with most of the photos falling in the post-Civil War to pre-World War II era. They include nearly every format, from daguerreotypes to snapshots, and cover a wide range of subject matter. A number of the photos were taken by African American photographers, a topic in itself.

“This collection sparkles with intelligent insights into the lives and cultures of the African American experience over many decades,” says Emory University Provost Earl Lewis, also a professor of history and African American studies. “Its breadth is incredible, its depth is considerable, and its sheer beauty is breathtaking.”

“Scholars from many disciplines will find this collection to be a treasure trove for peering behind the veil and seeing the inner worlds of life in America,” says Lewis. “I am proud that we can add this collection to our library.”

Randall K. Burkett, curator of MARBL’s African American Collections says the collection “complements virtually every other collection we have, whether it’s in music, art, literature, dance, business, civil rights – any aspect of late 19th and 20th century American culture. This is going to be a signature collection for us, and I know it will attract other collections.”  For complete article click here: Emory acquires vast African American photo collection. 

William Blair Jr. Papers

Press Release

2 Jun, 2012 00:02 CET

(Media contact: Bridget Lewis,, University of Texas at Arlington, 817-272-3317)

 ARLINGTON, Texas — The University of Texas at Arlington Special Collections Library has been named the repository of an extensive collection of newspapers, photos and personal memorabilia from William “Bill” Blair Jr., a former Negro League baseball pitcher, a Dallas civic and business leader and founder of the Elite News.

Blair, who is 90, will sign the deed of gift at 10 a.m. Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at The University of Texas at Arlington Central Library, in the Sixth Floor Atrium, 702 Planetarium Place. The event is open to the public.

Blair said he is making his personal holdings available to the public with hope that others may learn from his experiences.

“There are people who are not interested in anything until it happens to them,” Blair said. “But if you read and see photos, you learn.”

Ann Hodges, special collections program coordinator, negotiated acquisition of the William Blair Collection with W. Marvin Dulaney, chair of the UT Arlington Department of History, and Brenda McClurkin, the library’s historical manuscripts archivist. The records hold particular importance for the North Texas region, Hodges said.

“The acquisition of the William Blair Collection greatly enhances Special Collections’ holdings of African-American archival materials,” Hodges said. “This collection will allow us to preserve the story of a living legend in the African-American community for generations to come.”

Dulaney said the acquisition is another signal that the University intends to be a focal point for African-American studies. Dulaney helped plan the new UT Arlington Center for African American Studies, which officially launches this fall.

“We want to be a repository for major African-American items and let people know this is where items of importance should go,” Dulaney said. “The Blair Collection fits into UT Arlington’s mission to promote African-American history, studies and research about issues of significance to all African Americans.”

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.

New Moorland-Spingarn Director

Press Release

(Media Contact:  Rachel Mann, Communications Specialist, 202.238.2631,,

WASHINGTON (February 24, 2012) – Howard Dodson Jr., a national leader in the movement to preserve African-American history, has been named the new director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and director of the Howard University Library System.  Dodson retired last year from his position as director of Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture after 27 years of service.

“Dodson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise as the new leader of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and University Libraries,” said Howard University President Sidney Ribeau. “He will be instrumental as we execute our research agenda and preserve our cultural treasures.”

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is recognized as one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. As one of Howard University’s major research facilities, the MSRC collects, preserves, and makes available for research a wide range of resources chronicling the Black experience.

“We have too few centers that are documenting the global Black experience. Moorland has been one of the most important ones for nearly 100 years,” Dodson said.

Its collections include more than 175,000 bound volumes and tens of thousands of journals, periodicals, and newspapers; more than 17,000 feet of manuscript and archival collections; nearly 1000 audio tapes; hundreds of artifacts; 100,000 prints, photographs, maps, and other graphic items. The collections are used by scholars, museums, students, and other researchers from Howard University and throughout the world. Information provided by the MSRC is regularly used in exhibitions, video productions, news programming, and a wide range of publications.

Dodson’s immediate priorities at Howard University include increasing Moorland’s hours: providing twenty-four hour service in Founders Library, and enhancing the interior environments of both. He also plans to expand access to collections and make the libraries more active partners in student learning and university research. Finally, he plans to revitalize and upgrade the University’s library system, the newest member of the Washington Research Library Consortium.

Dodson is credited with extending the reach and reputation of the Schomburg Center through major exhibitions and acquisitions. Today, the Center is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world.

Dodson became chief of the Schomburg in 1984. Under his direction, the Center’s holdings doubled to 10 million. Acquisitions included the collections of Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou. Publishing projects Dodson spearheaded have included numerous microform editions of collections of original documents, a six-volume encyclopedia of African American history and culture, and a 30-volume collection of writings by African-American women.

Under Dodson’s stewardship, the Schomburg Center has been an innovator in using the Internet to increase access to library materials. He enhanced the quality of the Schomburg Center’s exhibitions, public programs, and special events. Attendance tripled to 120,000 people per year.

Dodson was born in Chester, Penn., in 1939. He graduated from West Chester State College in 1961 with a degree in social studies and secondary education and in 1964 received a master’s degree in history and political science from Villanova University. Dodson joined the Peace Corps in 1964, serving for two years in Ecuador and later as a national Peace Corps staff member. He then entered a doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley where he focused on the comparative history of slavery in the Western Hemisphere.

Through the years, Dodson has lectured widely on various topics nationally and internationally. His books include Becoming American: The Africa-American Journey; In Motion: the African-American Migration Experience; Jubilee: the Emergence of African-American Culture; and The Black New Yorkers: The Schomburg Illustrated Chronology.

In recognition of his contribution to the development of the Schomburg Center, Dodson has been awarded honorary doctorates by Villanova University (2007), the City University of New York (2004), West Chester State University (2004), Adelphi University (2004) and Widener University (1987). In 2010, Dodson was designated a New York City “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.


Howard University is a private research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 24 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site at