Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world's leading
research facilities devoted to the preservation of materials on the global
African and African diasporan experiences. A focal point of Harlem's cultural
life, the Center also functions as the national research library in the
field, providing free access to its wide-ranging noncirculating collections.
It also sponsors programs and events that illuminate and illustrate the
richness of black history and culture.
The Schomburg Center's collections first won international acclaim in
1926 when the personal collection of the distinguished black scholar and
bibliophile Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was added to the Division of Negro
Literature, History and Prints of the 135th Street Branch of The New York
Schomburg subsequently served as curator of the division from 1932 until
his death in 1938. The division was renamed in his honor in 1940, and
in 1972 it was designated as one of the Research Libraries of The New
York Public Library.
General Research and Reference Division
The General Research and Reference Division contains more than 15o,ooo
volumes and 85,ooo microforms. Primarily in English, they also include
works in a variety of African and European languages. Although weighted
heavily toward the humanities and social sciences, the division's collections
also comprise resources covering medicine and the natural sciences. In
addition, it offers more than 6,ooo serials, including 4oo black newspapers
and 1,ooo current periodicals from around the world. The Ernest D. Kaiser
Index to Black Resources is one of the Schomburg Center's most unique
finding aids, providing more than 179,000 citations to articles in thousands
of issues of black magazines and newspapers.
Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division
The Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division enables researchers
to work directly with unique, original source materials. The collection
has grown through the years, beginning with the rare treasures from Arturo
Alfonso Schomburg's personal holdings. Today, it contains more than 3,900
rare books, 580 manuscript collections, and 15,ooo pieces of sheet music
and rare printed materials. These include the original manuscript of Richard
Wright's Native Son; the papers of Dr. Robert Weaver, the first
black United States cabinet oficer; Gustavus Vassa's autobiography, which
provides evidence for Granville Sharp's attack on slavery in the British
colonies in 1796; and records of the Civil Rights Congress.
Art and Artifacts Division
The Art and Artifacts Division houses one of the most comprehensive
collections of black artists' work in a research center. It includes paintings,
sculptures, works on paper and textiles, and material culture. It contains
more than 20,000 items from Africa and the African Diaspora. The collection
is particularly strong in art produced during the Harlem Renaissance and
WPA periods. This includes murals by Aaron Douglas, a leader of the Harlem
Renaissance. Black American artists are represented by 19th-century figures
such as Edward Mitchell Bannister and Henry Ossawa Tanner, and 20th-century
figures such as Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence,
and Romare Bearden.
Photographs and Prints Division
The Photographs and Prints Division includes collections of images
from mid-18th-century graphics to contemporary documentary and art photographs.
The more than 500,000 items include portraits of many prominent 19th-
and 20th-century black artists, political figures, actors, musicians,
athletes, and social activists. The collection also documents black life
throughout the world including scenes from Africa and the slave era through
the 20th-century Americas. Among the photographers represented are James
VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, Edward Steichen, Coreen Simpson, Bert Andrews,
and Chester Higgins.
Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division
The Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division offers a broad range
of audiovisual documentation of black culture including music, oral history
recordings, motion pictures, and videotapes. Its resources include early
radio broadcasts and recordings of statements by celebrated personalities
such as Marcus Garvey, Booker T. Washington, and George Washington Carver.
Musical documentation ranges from African chants to American jazz. These
assets are complemented today by a special Oral History/ Video Documentation
Project which videotapes interviews with historically or culturally significant
figures. It offers over 5,000 hours of oral history recordings and more
than 5,000 motion pictures and videotapes of early black Þlm classics,
documentaries, and radio programs from many parts of the world.
Educational and Cultural Programs
Educational and Cultural Programs at the Schomburg Center complement
its research services and interpret its collections. Seminars, forums,
workshops, staged readings, film screenings, performing arts programs,
and special events are presented on a year-round basis in its renowned
Langston Hughes Auditorium.
Each year, the Schomburg Center presents a
number of exhibitions featuring art objects, photographs, documents, published
works and artifacts drawn from its own holdings, as well as resources
from other institutions. These exhibitions explore issues and themes in
the history and culture of people of African descent throughout the world.
The programs and exhibitions are open to everyone, from schoolchildren
to senior citizens, and most are available for free, increasing the library's
role as a community center. The Schomburg Center's Traveling Exhibitions
program makes exhibits on themes such as the black press, the anti-apartheid
movement, black photographers, black theatre, and voluntary black migration
available to institutions nationally and internationally. The Schomburg
Center's Schools Program offers Summer Institutes for teachers, year-round
teachers' forums, and workshops on black history and culture. It also
produces and disseminates curriculum guides, exhibition portfolios, and
audiovisual materials on related themes.
A Scholars-in-Residence Program, established
in 1986, provides long-term fellowship support for research projects which
draw heavily on the Center's collections and resources.
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black
Culture is part of The New York Public Library, which consists of four
major research libraries and 85 branch libraries located in the Bronx,
Manhattan, and Staten Island.
Considered one of the world's greatest libraries,
The New York Public Library is the only facility of its kind, with both
world-class research and circulating collections that are free and open
to the general public. As it enters its second century of service, The
New York Public Library continues to grow and adapt to meet the needs
of its millions of users worldwide.
thoerenz: pro: 01-22-01