Digital Collections

Digital Collection Spotlight – Black History Month

By Mariah Lewis, Metadata Management Librarian

The Digital Collection Spotlight is meant to highlight digital collections created both within and outside of the Fordham University community. In this edition of the Digital Collection Spotlight, we will be highlighting resources related to Black History Month with some collections that focus on the life, history and culture of African Americans. As February wraps up, consider using these resources year-round.

Library of Congress: African American History Digital Projects

Cartoon clipping from newspaper
Washington, D.C.–the new administration–colored citizens paying their respects to Marshall Frederick Douglass, in his office at the city hall / sketched by our special artist. Washington D.C, 1877.

It is hard to pick out just one collection to highlight from the Library of Congress’ African American History digital projects. The Library of Congress has a number of digital collections from different areas including manuscripts, prints and photographs, recordings, music, maps, and much more. Some of the collections include By Popular Demand: Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s, African American Bank Music & Recordings, 1883-1923, Civil Rights History Project, Frederick Douglass Newspapers, 1847-1874 ,and many more.

National Museum of African American History & Culture: The Collection

Purple flag that says Lifting as we climb.
“Banner with Motto of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs.” National Museum of African American History and Culture,

The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture opened in Washington, D.C. in September of 2016 and has hosted over seven million visitors since its opening. For those who have not been able to visit the museum, or who would like to access the museum even after they have left, NMAAHC provides access to “The Collection,” a digital repository of cultural artifacts that support the four pillars of the museum. While there is no Advanced Search option, the basic search bar and browse functions allow users to explore the collection. The topics covered include the American West, Civil Rights, Clothing and Dress, Communities, Education, Family and many others dating back to the 1850s. The digital collection is not limited to books and photographs, but also includes items such as badges, dresses, musical instruments and quilts. 

New York Public Library: Digital Schomburg

Large crowd under a theater awning with a large sign above them that says Macbeth
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. “Crowds outside the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem at the opening of “Macbeth” produced by the Federal Negro Theatre” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1936.

The New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture was founded in 1925 and is described by NYPL as “one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences.” The Center also has a digital platform called “Digital Schomburg” that is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. While their digital collection does include related historical content from NYPL’s different divisions, it also includes more contemporary collections such as the Schomburg Web Archive Collections that archives websites related to the mission of the Schomburg Center. There are also recorded versions of live stream events held at the Schomburg Center and podcasts by visiting scholars at the Schomburg Center. 

Google Books: JET Magazine

The JET magazine was first published in 1951 by John H. Johnson of Johnson Publishing. Coincidentally, Johnson Publishing was also one of the founding donors of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. The magazine covered a range of topics that related to black culture. All of the issues from the magazine’s inception in 1951 to issues from 2005 have been digitized and made available by Google Books. Users are also able to utilize a full-text search of all of the magazine issues.

HBCU Library Alliance: Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University

Booker T. Washington riding a flea bitten grey horse
Tuskegee University Libraries. “Booker T. Washington & Dexter” HBCU Historical Alliance Digital Library. Undated.

This digital collection was created by the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Alliance to showcase and celebrate the founding of historically black centers for higher education. The collections include thousands of books, archival documents, photographs, and video recordings. The items date from the 1800s to the present day. There are currently 23 collections from schools in the United States.

A longer list of resources can be found on The National Archives also has a curated list. Please note, some of the resources listed on these websites are not up to date and the links may be broken.

Featured Image Credit: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. “Aspects of Negro Life” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1934.

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