Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
The New York Public Library
515 Malcolm X Boulevard
New York, NY 10037-1801
Phone: (212) 491-2200
Hours open to the public
Arts and Artifacts Division, by appointment only
General Research and Reference, Monday-Wensday 12:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.; Thursday – Friday 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books, Wednesday - Thursday 12:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m., Friday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Moving Image and Recorded Sound, Monday - Wednesday 12:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., Thursday – Friday 11:00 a.m. – 6 p.m, Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Photographs and Prints Division, Monday – Friday 12:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.
History of the Institution
The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, which is one of the research libraries of the New York Public Library system, collects, preservers, and provides access to resources that document individuals of the African Diaspora.
New York Public Library began their efforts towards collecting material documenting African Americans and individuals of African decent in 1924 after librarian Ernestine Rose of the 135th Street Branch established an organization to develop a reference library that provided information regarding the black community. In 1926, the New York Public Library with the assistance of the National Urban League and the Carnegie Corporation purchase the collection of Arthur Schomburg, a historian and activist. The collection, which was originally located in the Division of Negro Literature, History, and Prints at the 135th Street Branch Library, becomesone of the largest collections documenting African-American history. Eventually, Arthur Schomburg was named curator of the Negro Division in 1932. The division was also renamed in honor of Schomburg in 1940.
Due to the Civil Rights Movement of 1950s and 1960s, many researchers became interested in African-American history and preserving books and records that documented the black community. In 1966, Jean Blackwell Hudson, Curator of the Schomburg Collection, gave a presentation regarding these records and the need for preservation. As a result, in 1972, the collection was transferred to the Research Libraries and a separate building was constructed, which was named the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In addition to providing research material regarding African Americans, the library also has various public events and educational programs. 1
Scope and Content
Materials located at the Schomburg are divided into five collections – Art and Artifacts; General Research and Reference; Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books; Moving Image and Recorded Sound; and Photographs and Prints. This overview summeraizes their holdings related to African Americans in The Bronx.
Art and Artifacts:
This collection contains art and artifacts of individuals that are part of the African Diaspora. This division is divided into four general subject areas – traditional African art, paintings and sculptures, works on paper, and textiles and artifacts. At this time, the collection does not contain any information regarding African Americans in The Bronx.
General Research and Reference:
General Research and Reference includes books, microfilm, and serials regarding individuals of the African Diaspora. While the collection contains information regarding peoples from the Americas, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa, their primary strength are works regarding African Americans in Harlem and other areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn. The following is a bibliography of selected material regarding African Americans in The Bronx.
A Profile of The Bronx Economy. New York: Fordham University. 1967. (Call Number Sc 330.974)
Clinton Comics. Bronx: Dewitt Clinton High School, 1973.
African American comic books created by students at Dewitt Clinton High School. (Call Number Sc Ser.-M.C5712)
Community Council of Greater New York, Bureau of Community Statistical Services. Bronx Communities; Population Characteristics and Neighborhood Social Resources. New York, 1959. Copies located at the Schomburg (Call Number Sc 309.174-C) and the Humanities and Social Sciences Library (Call Number F-10 3553)
Devine, Richard James. Institutional Mortgage Investment in an Area of Racial Transition: A Case Study of Bronx County. Ph.D diss., New York University, 1974. (Call Number Sc Micro R-3755)
Federal Writers Program of the Works Projects Administration. Negroes in Queensboro, Bronx, and Staten Island. 1938-1939 (Call Number Sc Mirco R-6533, Reel 4, no. 30)
The Friendly 50 Club, Inc. Presents Our 43rd Annual Dinner Dance; Sunday, November 9, 2003; 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. at the Eastwood Manor, 3371 Eastchester Road, Bronx, New York. Bronx, 2003. (Call Number Sc F 04-5)
Handshuh, Pearl, et al. Boulevard – Prospect Area, Bronx, New York City: A Survey. Hunter College, 1946. (Call Number Sc 309.174)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), East Bronx Branch. Freedom Fund Dinner Dance. 1989
New York City Commission on Human Rights. Percent Change of Non-White Population in Bronx Census Tracts Between 1950 and 1960. New York, 1961.(Call Number Sc Map O-99)
New York City Youth Board. Citizens’ Report of The Bronx Pilot Program: A Report of Conditions Contributing to Delinquency in a Selected Area in The Bronx and Recommendations to Meet Some the Needs. New York, 1949. (Call Number Sc 362.7-N)
Pinkwater, Jill. Tails of The Bronx: A Tale of The Bronx. New York: Macmillian, 1991.
A children’s book regarding homelessness in The Bronx. (Call Number Sc D 95-991)
South Bronx NAACP Annual Debutante Cotillion and the Crowning of “Miss NAACP.” New York, May 15, 1977. (Call Number Sc Ser.-M.S6739)
Thacker, Charlene. Ethnic Change in the Urban Subarea; A Study of the Dynamics of Residential Mobility. Ph.D diss., Fordham University, 1973 (Call Number Sc Micro R-5678)
Williamsbridge Club of National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. Seventh Annual Founder’s Day Luncheon; Saturday, May 5, 1984 at the Throggs Neck Country Club, 2665 Schurz Avenue, Bronx, New York. Bronx, May 5, 1984. (Call Number Sc F 07-87 no.3)
Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books
This division consists of 3,900 rare books, 580 manuscript collections, and 15,000 pieces of sheet music and other rare printed material regarding individuals of African decent. The collection also includes literary and scholarly typescripts, broadsides, programs, and playbills. The following are collections that contain information regarding African Americans in The Bronx.
Robert H. Beecher Papers, 1941-1987. 7 linear feet (7 boxes). (Call Number Sc MG 272). Please note that this collection is located offsite. The collection contains the personal papers, correspondence, writings, and research material of Robert Beecher, a New York City teacher and community coordinator for school district 12 in The Bronx. These papers document education of the Panama Canal Zone and minorities located in the United States, including The Bronx. Also included in the collection are interviews of several African-American politicians during the 1970s.
Michael Henry Brown Plays, 1985-1988. 4 items. (Call Number Sc MG 345). This collection contains photocopies of four play scripts by Brown – “Outlaws,” “King of Coons,” “The Deadly Aim of the Straight and True,” and “Generations of the Dead in the Abyss.” Brown was born in The Bronx the playwright of several plays that were performed Off-Broadway. The plays contained in this collection formsa part of the Negro Ensemble Company records.
Daisy George Papers, 1945-1995. 28 linear feet (34 boxes). (Call Number Sc MG 118). Please note that some of the boxes for this collection are located offsite. Included in this collection are reports, correspondence, newsletters, programs, newspaper clippings, which document George’s role in various organizations, which include the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc., the National Council of Negro Women, and the International Council of Women. In The Bronx, she was one of the founders of the Northeast Bronx Day Care Center and served on the Board of Directors for the R. Millard Farrell Learning and Enrichment Center. She was also director of the Nepperhan Community Center, which was located in The Bronx.
Jennifer Jazz, 1986. 2 items. (Call Number Sc MG 345). Two unpublished plays entitled “A Tale by the Window,” and “I Heard About Your Cat” is included in this collection. Jazz, who was born in The Bronx and of West Indian decent, has written various plays, poetry, and songs. The National Black Theater of New York produced the plays included in this collection. The collection also forms a part of the Negro Ensemble Company records.
Lincoln School of Nurses, 1869-2002. 34 boxes. (Call Number Sc MG 248). The Lincoln School of Nurses was founded in 1898 in The Bronx to train African-American nurses. The school was originally located at the Society for the Relief of Worthy Indigent Colored Persons, but relocated to Lincoln Hospital in the 1920’s. The school closed in the early 1960s. The collection includes published histories, incorporation papers for the School and Alumnae Association, yearbooks, news bulletins, correspondence, and other printed material. Please note that photographs for the collection have been transferred t the Photographs and Prints Division. Annual Reports from 1939-1960 are located in the General Research Division.
Positive Youth Troupe Collection, 1988-1989. 1 folder. (Call Number Sc MG 481). These records contain correspondence, touring itineraries, choreographic notes, and the script and lyrics to songs performed in the Trioupe’s original musical “No Laughing Matter.” The Troupe was established in 1982 by the Mind Builders Creative Arts Center, which is located in the Northeast Bronx.
In addition to these collections, the Schomburg’s Manuscript and Archives has started a project, which focuses on collecting documents regarding Hip Hop. Included in this collection are flyers from several jam sessions and photographs by Joe Conzo.
Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division
This division contains music, oral histories, motion pictures, videotapes, and other audiovisual documentation regarding African Americans. This collection does not contain much information regarding African Americans in The Bronx. There is an oral history of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, a jazz musician who was raised in The Bronx during the 1940s and 1950s. The division also contains an oral history of Mother Palmer, an African Americans with an interest in Ethiopia and member of the Holy Trinity Ethiopian Orthodox Church in The Bronx.
Photographs and Prints Division
This division includes over 500,000 images that document individuals of African decent. This division contains several photographs relating to African Americans in The Bronx, which are located in the Austin Hansen Collection. While this collection mostly contains images associated with Harlem, there are a few select images of the South Bronx during the 1940s and 1950s. This division also contains stills from the film Fort Apache, which is about a South Bronx police station during the 1970s and 1980s.
Finding aids are available for many collections. Please consult the librarian and archivist for further information.
There are some restrictions ofrecords maintained at the Schomburg. Please consult the finding aid or archivist for further information.
Associated Collections and Other Research Material
Dodson, Howard, et al. The Black New Yorkers: The Schomburg Illustrated Chronology. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1995.
Bronx African American History Project (BAAHP) oral histories of jazz musicians (consult The Bronx County Historical Society for further information).
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – Williamsbridge Branch
North Bronx National Council of Negro Women
Survey conducted by Megan A. Hibbitts and Concetta Gleason in March 2007.
1 Howard Dodson, et al, The Black New Yorkers: The Schomburg Illustrated Chronology (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc, 1995), 188, 190, 194-195, 197, 319-320, 354.