Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture , New York NY

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The 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. It is located in the heart of Harlem and within the 135th branch of the New York Public Library.
The Schomburg Center 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 Public Library. 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.

Today, the Schomburg Center contains over 10,000,000 items and provides services and programs for constituents from the United States and abroad. The Center’s collections include art objects, audio and video tapes, books, manuscripts, motion picture films, newspapers, periodicals, photographs, prints, recorded music discs and sheet music.  Highlights include:

  • One of the nation’s most comprehensive collections of paintings, sculptures, works on paper and textiles, and material culture from Africa and the African Diaspora. Featured artists include Aaron Douglas, Edward Mitchell Bannister, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Meta Vaux Warrick Fuller, Elizabeth Catlett, Jacob Lawrence, and Romare Bearden.
  • A extensive collection of photographs from the mid-18th century to the present day, including portraits of many prominent 19th- and 20th-century black artists, political figures, actors, musicians, athletes, and social activists. Among the photographers represented are James VanDerZee, Gordon Parks, Edward Steichen, Coreen Simpson, Bert Andrews, and Chester Higgins.
  • Books and manuscripts 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;


Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
515 Malcolm X Boulevard, New York, NY 10037
Phone: 212/491-2200



Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a research unit of The New York Public Library, is generally recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world. A cultural center as well as a repository, this Harlem-based modern research library also sponsors a wide array of interpretive programs, including exhibitions, scholarly and public forums, and cultural performances. For over 80 years, the Schomburg Center has collected, preserved, and provided access to materials documenting black life, and promoted the study and interpretation of black history and culture. For more information, please visit
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
W.E.B. DuBois, american civil rights activist, scholar and founding father of NAACP, died on this date, August 27, 1963. Du Bois was born and raised in Massachusetts. Du Bois, pictured, was the first African American to receive a Ph. D. in History from Harvard University. He was the co-founder of the NAACP and was an advocate for African American civil rights and equality. DuBois adamantly spoke in favor of higher education and political office for blacks. DuBois was also a supporter of Pan-Africanism and worked to help African colonies under European rule. Around the time of his death, he had been working on an encyclopedia called “The Encyclopedia Africana,” in Ghana. He was 95.

Image: NYPL Digital Library

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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
Valerie Simpson, singer, composer and producer, was born on this day, August 26, 1946 in the Bronx, New York. Simpson, on the right, rose to fame alongside her husband Nicholas Ashford, left, who she met in New York city in 1963. They wrote for artists such as Aretha Franklin and Ray Charles with hits “Cry Like a Baby” and “Let’s Go Get Stoned.” They later joined Motown Records and wrote “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “You’re All I Need to Get By” and among many other big hits. Ashford & Simpson, as they were known collectively, continued to have hits with Teddy Pendergrass, Chaka Khan, Rufus, Smokey Robinson and others. Together they also had their own albums, four of which were certified gold. Simpson, herself, had three solo albums in the 70s. They were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2011, Ashford died of complications due to throat cancer. Simpson has since released a solo album, “Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again.”

Image: NYPL Digital Collections

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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
Althea Gibson, tennis player and the first African American to compete in the U.S. Nationals, was born on this day, August 25, 1927. Gibson showed an appreciation for sports at a young age, playing basketball and paddle tennis. After joining the American Tennis Association, Gibson began her networking and career as a tennis player. At the age of 29, Gibson became the first black person to win the French championships.She was also the first African American to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals in 1957 and then won again in 1958. Gibson faced a lot of racism at first, some of which included not being allowed to compete despite her skill level and being denied rooms at hotels but eventually, she was allowed to take the world by storm. Gibson won 11 Grand Slam events which placed her in the International Tennis Hall of Fame and the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
On this day, August 24, 1950, Edith Sampson, pictured on the right with Eleanor Roosevelt on the left, was named the first black delegate to the United Nations. Sampson held this position for three years. Sampson’s first degree was in social work and then she went to John Marshall for Law School, graduating with a dean’s commendation. She received her master of law degree from Loyola University and became one of the first African American women to join the Chicago chapter of the National Association of Women Lawyers and to practice law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Sampson later became a judge elected to a Municipal Court.

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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library
On August 23, 1900, Booker T. Washington formed the National Negro Business League in Boston. The goal of the organization was to better the commercial and financial progression of African Americans. In 1901, the league was formally recognized and then established many more chapters all over the nation. Washington noticed a need to create a network for business that would encourage financial development for African Americans. The organization aided African Americans struggling with merchandising and promotions. The league contained members who were African American business owners and professionals. In 1966, the National Negro Business League was renamed the National Business League.

Image: NYPL Digital Collection

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