Tag Archives: black history

Lift Every Voice: Celebrating 250 Years of African American Poetry


LiftEveryVoiceThe University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press announces a new online exhibition:

Lift Every Voice: Celebrating 250 Years of African American Poetry


Lift Every Voice is a year-long, nationwide celebration of the 250-year tradition of African American poetry, its richness and diversity, and its central place in American poetry. The initiative is directed by Library of America in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and with libraries, arts organizations, and bookstores in all fifty states. It is supported by funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Emerson Collective.

Curated by English and American literature librarian Aimee Gee and launched in December 2020, this exhibition highlights materials from the collections of the University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press and draws upon several past UD exhibitions. Lift Every Voice encourages visitors to reflect upon five intersecting themes that emerge from a close examination of the African American poetic tradition: The Freedom Struggle, Black Identities (Assertion & Protection), Black Experience in History & Memory, Black Language & Music, and Family & Community. Contact: AskSpec

Secrets of the Librarians: Free Black Women’s Library

If you’re looking for a great new read, Book Marks has started a weekly series called Secrets of the Librarians. Every week, they interview a librarian (“be they Academic, Public, School, or Special”) about “their inspirations, most-recommended titles, thoughts on the role of the library in contemporary society, favorite fictional librarians, and more.”

In mid-May, they interviewed OlaRonke Akinmowo, who is the founder of a social-justice initiative called the Free Black Women’s Library.

Says Akinmowo:

I have to say that I do not have a master’s degree in Library Sciences or any official training and did not go to school to become a librarian, I started the Free Black Women’s Library as a social art project to because I wanted to do something that smashed together the things I am passionate about: books, black womanhood, and community. I wanted to explore the idea of using books by black women to build community, create change, educate, heal, inspire spread joy. I wanted to do something that centered black women but in a way that didn’t feel tragic, traumatic or pathological, something that showed our brilliance, imagination, strength and diversity. I love books and I love libraries, they feel like one of the few safe places on earth (depending on who is running the space).

Akinmowo recommends readers check out Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, and The Sun is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon. Though the Free Black Women’s Library is in Brooklyn, NY, you can can a head start on this recommended reading by checking out Sister Outsider from The Ames Library! We have both a physical copy and an e-book. There are also several books by black women writers in our free lending Social Justice & Diversity Room collection on the main floor.

Image courtesy Book Marks.

New Artwork in the Library

One of the distinguishing features of The Ames Library is our expansive and ever-growing collection of artwork, which includes everything from Rembrandt etchings to art from graduating Wesleyan seniors. We are delighted to add ten prints from cartoonist Keith Knight to this collection.

You might remember Keith from his visit to campus in October 2018, during which he spoke about race and racism in the United States.

You can see the new prints, which feature quotes on race and social justice from figures like Nelson Mandela and Grace Lee Boggs, on the east side of the main floor.

Happy 100th Birthday, Jackie Robinson!

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Jack Roosevelt “Jackie” Robinson, the first player to break the color barrier in baseball. His Major League debut occurred with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947 and his career as a professional ballplayer lasted just over nine years.

Jackie’s tremendous accomplishments can only be fully understood if we are clear-eyed about the racism that white people, from fellow Dodgers to baseball spectators to the United States military, subjected him to throughout his life.

We invite you take to take a deeper look at Jackie’s life and career through our exhibit “Against the Most Tremendous Odds,” which will be up through February on The Ames Library main floor.

Black Folklore for Halloween

If you’re the type of person who likes to curl up with a creepy story around Halloween, look no further than this list from Shondaland.com, a website founded by Shonda Rhimes. The list features several pivotal works of African-American folklore, such as Virginia Hamilton’s The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, to get you into that Halloween mood!

“Hamilton’s expansive set of folktales is the perfect introduction to a staple of African trickster characters, slave folklore, and the tradition of oral storytelling that black Americans have long held close. Perhaps most importantly, Hamilton provides a straightforward, blunt explanation of the origin and importance of black folklore in America, noting that while you’re having fun reading these stories you must remember, “these were once a creative way for oppressed people to express their fears and hopes to one another… We must look look on the tales as a celebration of the human spirit.”

You can find The People Could FlyThe Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural by Patricia C. McKissack; Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales by Virginia Hamilton; and The Annotated African American Folktales by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar right here at The Ames Library. If you need help locating them on the shelf, just drop by a librarian’s office on our first floor.




Free Digital Archive of Black Newspapers Goes Live

As of June 2018, the Obsidian Collection Archives is now available online. This digital collection of historic black newspaper archives was started when executive director Angela Ford realized that physical archives of papers like Chicago Defender were rapidly deteriorating and in need of preservation. ”To make matters worse, when she told her son about newsworthy things that had happened when she was growing up, he often found there was no record of those, either. ‘He’d go to Google it, and it wasn’t there,’ she says. ‘I thought, ‘Wait, what?… My past was disintegrating. That’s how I got involved: to save black history and to save myself.'” (Source)

Eight exhibitions are now live, with many more to be added.

Woman and girls on Maxwell Street, Shakir Karriem, Photographer 1983-08. From the collection of
The Obsidian Collection Archives.

From the Obsidian Collection’s mission statement:

Our primary goal is to preserve and share images from African American newspapers to future generations. As Black people moved about the country, the documentation of their lives was recorded on very few mediums. The African American Newspapers were of the few published tools of the first half of the twentieth century to capture any record of our lives, our goals, our suffering and our strength.

The list of partner newspapers can be accessed here, and you can read more about the project at Atlas Obscura and Smithsonian.com.

New trial databases on African-American history at Ames Library

Ames Library is currently evaluating two databases for future subscription, African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle, 1865-1883 and African Americans and Jim Crow: Repression and Protest, 1883-1922. Together, the databases comprise approximately 2,400 printed works on the post-Civil War and Post-Reconstruction periods in African-American history. The works are drawn from The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Afro-Americana Collection.

African Americans and Reconstruction: Hope and Struggle [and African Americans and Jim Crow ] offers a comprehensive survey of the black experience during the crucial post-Civil War period [and during the period from post- Reconstruction through the early 1920s]. Using this multifaceted collection researchers can easily uncover patterns of thought and compare points of view comprehensively. Students will find numerous new topics for term papers, group study and oral presentations, and teachers and faculty will discover multiple paths for classroom study. And by using helpful features such as “Suggested Searches,” users at all levels can drill into the content by topic, time period, theme or subject matter. (Readex)

The databases are searchable by subject, each of which includes subcategories such as African-American Women Authors, Antislavery Literature, Economic Conditions in the South, Miscegenation, White Supremacy Movements and Groups, African-American Churches and Clergy, African-American Colleges and Universities, and so on.

This 30-day trial is good until November 12th, 2017. You can access the databases using the links above or by visiting our A–Z Resources page (http://libguides.iwu.edu/az.php). (New and trial databases are located on the right-hand side of the page and are also searchable by title.)

What do we want from you? Check them out! Tell us if you like them. The Ames Library regularly signs up for trial subscriptions each year and we love to get your feedback on resources that could strengthen our collections. We have a virtual suggestion box here: https://www.iwu.edu/library/information/Suggestion-Box.html

Washington Conference on the Race Problem in the United States. How to Solve the Race Problem : The Proceedings of the Washington Conference on the Race Problem in the United States (Washington, DC: Beresford, Printer, 1903)

Keckley, Elizabeth. Behind the Scenes, or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House (New York: G.W. Carleton, 1868)

A 1902 novel from black author, Simon E. Griggs.

Griggs, Sutton E. Unfettered: A Novel (Nashville: The Orion Publishing Company, 1902)