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

Hein Slavery Collection

From the Hein web site:

The crisis revolving around race relations in America and the recent events surrounding this crisis have made the Hein Company rethink the idea of financially profiting from the sale of a collection on slavery. As good corporate citizens, Hein realized that a unique opportunity existed to make a positive impact in our community, in our profession and very possibly in a wider arena. Therefore, the decision was made not to charge for this collection, but to provide Slavery in America and the World free to anyone with an interest in the subject: libraries, institutions, students, researchers, or any other entity within our global community. By doing this, the Hein Company will realize a different form of profit by potentially making a difference during this troubling time.  Read the complete announcement here: Slavery in America and the World: History, Culture, and Law.

Search  Hein Online.

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.

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.)

Freedmen’s Bureau Records

Discover your roots and unlock your future.  New digital collection of government documents being released is from the post Civil War Freedman’s Bureau and could help people with slave ancestry find out where they come from.

To help bring thousands of records to light, the Freedmen’s Bureau Project was created as a set of partnerships between FamilySearch International and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Afro­-American Historical and Genealogical Society (AAHGS), and the California African American Museum.

Link to The Freedmen’s Bureau Project.

Rosa Parks Collection

(Source: Todd Spangler, USA Today, September 10, 1014)

WASHINGTON — A collection of more than a thousand items that belonged to the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks — including her Presidential Medal of Freedom —  will be housed by the Library of Congress.

Librarian of Congress James Billington announced Tuesday that the collection would reside at the library on a decade-long loan from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, which purchased the collection from Parks’ estate for $4.5 million in August.

Buffett is the son of billionaire financier Warren Buffett. The items had remained in warehouses for years since Parks’ 2005 death in her adopted home of Detroit at age 92 as her heirs wrangled over the assets.

Parks is best known for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955, sparking a bus boycott considered central to the civil rights movement and the end of government-sanctioned segregation.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award, in 1996.

Parks’ collection is made up of some 1,500 items including personal correspondence and photographs, autobiographical notes, letters from presidents, a Congressional Gold Medal awarded in 1999, clothing, furniture and 200 drawings by schoolchildren and hundreds of greeting cards from individuals thanking her for her inspirational role in the civil rights movement.

 Next spring, items from the collection will be incorporated into “The Civil Rights Act of 1964: A Long Struggle for Freedom,” a year-long exhibit opening today. Library staff will also digitize documents and visual materials and make them available through its website.
(The complete story is available at Library of Congress to house Rosa Parks collection ).

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.

New Digital Acquisition

The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century: Organizational Records and Personal Papers, Part 1 (ProQuest History Vault) consists of primary source documents from the personal papers of African Americans and records of civil rights organizations.  Covering 1895 to 1992, this module focuses on the experiences of individual African Americans, as told through diaries, personal correspondence and more.  Included are the personal papers of Claude A. Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, A. Philip Randolph, and Bayard Rustin.  In addition, the module includes important records from a number of organizations including the American Committee on Africa, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, League of Revolutionary Black Workers, National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs, Revolutionary Action Movement, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference.