Schomburg Center Collections [microform]

Meredith Anne Lange
Class of 2002
September 25, 2001

Source Report

Four reels consisting of black newspapers constitute the Schomburg Center Collections [microform]. The source contains 188 different periodicals dating from as early as November 15, 1845, and as late as February 16, 1980. The collection covers a wide range of interests, both foreign and domestic, such as The AVC Bulletin (the American Veterans' Committee), The Africo-American Presbyterian, and The Houston College Herald.

The staff of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture compiled the collection in 1971. The Center is a national library dedicated to the preservation and documentation of the lives of those of African descent. The collection contains a copy of each of the black newspapers obtained by the Center, and in most cases, the only copy available of that particular paper.

Newspapers from 57 cities in 30 states incorporate the collection originating domestically, and from 36 cities in 23 foreign countries make up the international collection. About 30 of the domestic newspapers were printed in New York City, making up the largest collection, followed by Washington D.C., Chicago, and Charlotte with 3 different newspapers each. On the international side, Port-au-Prince, Haiti received the highest representation with 8 newspapers. For the most part, the domestic newspapers originated in cities with politically active African American citizens. A large portion of these papers were daily locals encouraging its readers to actively participate in the civil rights cause. Accounts regarding protests, marches, and campaigns made up a bulk of the front-page news stories. Following the headline news, most of the papers advertised church announcements, results from sporting events, mostly baseball, and events associated with education, such as college graduations and faculty and administrative appointments.

The newspapers are organized alphabetically according to the name of the paper. At the beginning of each newsreel is a listing of all the newspapers in the collection in order as they appear. With each name, the list also contains the date and city of production. The record however fails to note where one reel ends and the next begins.

In order to use this collection, it is necessary to know a great deal about the subject of interest. Since the collection covers a wide range of subjects, I would recommend looking at the date and place of publication of each paper listed in the contents, and browse the newsreel based on what areas seem most relevant.

The collection can answer basically any question regarding people of African descent between the years 1845 and 1980. Because it incorporates a wide range of issues from diversified perspectives in various places, the collection can be of use to anyone studying people of African descent. In drawing from the entire collection, someone might analyze language or advertising. Essentially, the collection can answer an infinite number of questions.