Spotlight on Digital Collections: Black History Month

The editorial team at bloggERS would like to use today’s post to highlight exceptional digital collections and initiatives related to the history of Black and African American communities. We celebrate the collections highlighted below, and we also encourage ourselves and our readers to make Black History a year-round priority at all institutions, and a priority bolstered by the labor of all archives workers rather than delegated solely to archives workers of color. We enthusiastically ask our readers to add to the conversation and highlight other Black History collections and initiatives in the comments.

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The HBCU Library Alliance’s Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University is a collection of primary resources from HBCU libraries and archives. These images present HBCUs as cultural, social, and political institutions from the early 1800s until today.

The Black Beauty Archives preserves, documents and celebrates the history of Black Beauty through cosmetics and beauty culture. Their collections include rare vintage beauty ads, magazines, press photos, stamps, and beauty tools; oral histories from beauty professionals and creatives alike are added to the collection on a bimonthly basis.

The W. E. B. Du Bois Papers are digitized in full and available in UMass Amherst Libraries Special Collections & University Archives’ online digital repository, Credo.

The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History collects, preserves and provides access to rare, unique and primary materials concerning people across the African Diaspora, with a concentration on local Atlanta history. 

Harvard Radcliffe Institute’s Schlesinger Library interviewed 72 African American women between 1976 and 1981 for the Black Women Oral History Project. Biographies, photographs, and transcripts as well as audio from the project are available online.

The Library of Congress’s online collections and exhibits include, among many others:

The Free Library of Philadelphia hosts a digital archive of ten historic African American newspapers, and has recently added The History Makers, the country’s largest archive of African American oral history videos.

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s digital collections include exhibitions, books, articles, photographs, prints, audio and video streams, and selected external links for research in the history and cultures of the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora. The Web Archive Collections include websites, online audio and video, blogs, and other media curated around topics relating to the Schomburg Center and Black culture.

The Archives Library Information Center of the National Archives and Records Administration maintains a Black History webpage and an African American History Month Resources page to highlight significant holdings related to Black History. NARA also hosts a monthly #ArchivesHashtagParty on Twitter, this month celebrating #ArchivesBlackEducation.

Umbra Search African American History makes digitized African American history resources accessible through a freely available search tool.

Kennesaw State University Archives hold historical records for the Cobb County Chapter of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), many of which have been digitized and are available online.

The North Carolina State Archives’s African American Education digital collection includes selected documents & photographs from the collections of the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum and the State Archives.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture makes many of its digitized collections and items available online.

Artstor contains a number of collections related to Black History that are open to the public, including:

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