The Black Studies Center

The Black Studies Center

In Special Collections

When the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library opened in 1972, a major new Black Studies collection was already in place. Today, the Black Studies Center consists primarily of a 15,000 volume monographic book collection that focuses on the African-American experience in the U.S. The book collection also includes limited titles on Africa and people of African descent (history, literature, culture) from other parts of the world.

Free Access to Online Collections | Current Newspapers, Magazines & Journals | Microfilm | Rare Books & Personal Papers | Harlem Renaissance | Subject Encyclopedias (examples) | Genealogy | Fiction | Back to Special Collections Hompage 

Free Access to Online Collections
Use your library card and PIN number to log in from a home or school PC via the links below.  

Current Newspapers, Magazines, & Journals


  • Colored American Magazine (Boston) — “The Ebony Magazine of its day” (August 1900 – December 1902; January 1903 – October 1909)
  • Black American Literature Forum (V. 10 – V 25; Includes indexes)
  • (Frederick) Douglass Monthly (1858-1863; Includes an index)
  • Muhammad Speaks — (September 1960 - September 1971) The current title is The Muslim Journal, and is a Black Studies Center Subscription
  • Negro History Bulletin (V. 1 – V. 48; October 1937 – Jan/Dec 1985)
  • Negro World (February 1923 – October 1933)
  • Phylon (V. 1 – V. 40, 1940 – 1979; includes indexes)
  • Microfilm Holdings List (includes Black Studies Center and Washingtoniana holdings)
  • Black Studies Periodicals List (includes current and historic titles in print and microfilm)
Rare Books & Personal Papers
  • Beatrice M. Murphy Collection
  • Anne Cook Reid Collection of Paul Laurence Dunbar’s first editions
  • Papers of Martin Luther King, Jr. Edited by Clayborne Carson et. al. Berkeley, Ca.: University of California Press, 2005. Volumes 1-5 of 6.  Volumes include but are not limited to: speeches, sermons, letters, school papers and articles.
  • The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. General Editor George P. Rawick. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1977. Divided into two series' plus a supplemental series. Slave narratives are arranged by state.
  • A small collection of volumes inscribed by the authors
  • Papers for three individuals (see below) who were an important part of the Harlem Renaissance Movement.  

Harlem Renaissance

  • Gwendolyn Bennett Papers, 1916-1981. Manuscript Collections from the Schomburg Center for Research and Culture, printed guide for reel contents available.
  • Papers of Countee Cullen, 1921-1969. Filmed from the holdings of the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, printed guide for reel contents available.
  • Langston Hughes Collection, 1926-1967. Manuscript Collections from the Schomburg Center for Research and Culture, printed guide for reel contents available.
  • Harlem Renaissance. Editors, Christine Slovey and Kelly King Howes. Vol. 1 Detroit:UXL, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web 11 June 2013. A searchable eBook from the DCPL Virtual Reference Collection
  • Washington, D.C. Harlem Renaissance Parallel Movement: Black Renaissance in Washington DC website
  • Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. Edited by Cary D. Wintz and Paul Finkelman. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Subject Encyclopedias (examples)

  • List of Encyclopedias, Dictionaries and Multi-Volumes in the Black Studies Center
  • Encyclopedia of the African Diaspora: Origins, Experiences and Culture. Edited by Carole Boyce Davies. Santa Barbara, Ca.: ABC CLIO, 2008.
  • Encyclopedia of Race and Racism. Editor In Chief, John Hartwell Moore. New York, NY: Thompson Gale, 2008.
  • Writing African American Woman: An Encyclopedia of Literature by and about Women of Color. Edited by Elizabeth Ann Beaulieu. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2006.


  • Blacks in Selected Newspapers, Censuses and Other Sources: An Index to Names and Subjects. Compiled by James de T. Abajian. Boston: G.K. Hall & Co., 1977. Primary sources from the 19th to the early 20th centuries, including newspapers, U.S. and Individual State Census Records, U.S. Regional and City Directories, and other periodicals. Also includes names and subjects related to African American family life and history in the U.S.

Works by African-American adult fiction writers, reflecting various historical periods through the 1970s, whose works are supported with literary criticism and author biographies. Examples of authors represented in the Black Studies Fiction collection are:

  • Ed Bullins
  • Charles W. Chesnutt
  • W.E.B. DuBois
  • Ralph Ellison
  • Chester Himes
  • Dorothy West
  • Walter E. White
  • Frank Yerby
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