(Media Contact: Rachel Mann, Communications Specialist, 202.238.2631, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://www.howard.edu/newsroom/)
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 www.howard.edu.