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By Any Means Necessary: Documenting Black Protest in the Schomburg Center: Archival Collections

This research guide highlights collections that document slave revolts and other forms of protest lead by the Black community.

The Schomburg Center's Manuscripts Archives and Rare Books Division

The Manuscripts Archives and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture provides access to primary source materials created by and about Black people. This page will highlight collections and rare books that discuss revolts lead by enslaved Black people, and other protests lead by Black having to do with the Civil Rights Movement, Black Power Era, and the Gay Liberation Movement.

Digitized images

An inquiry into the causes of the insurrection of the Negroes in the island of St. Domingo : to which are added, observations of M. Garran-Coulon on the same subject, read in his absence by M. Guadet, before the National Assembly, 29th Feb. 1792

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "An inquiry into the causes of the insurrection of the Negroes in the island of St. Domingo : to which are added, observations of M. Garran-Coulon on the same subject, read in his absence by M. Guadet, before the National Assembly, 29th Feb. 1792" New York Public Library Digital Collections

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Daisy Bates takes a walk - Activist Daisy Bates picketing with placard" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Mixed race group of children carrying sign: "No Child is Free Until ALL are Free," circa late 1950s" New York Public Library Digital Collection.

Archival Materials in MARB

Archival Collections are accessible by making a research appointment. In order to prepare for an appointment, researchers should view the finding aid to identify specific box and folder numbers to review during the visit. Virtual individual and group research consultations are also available by appointment.

The following includes a list of collections that document Black protest in the Manuscripts Archives, and Rare Books Division

Slave Insurrections

The enslavement of people of African descent has been documented by materials in our collections. Part of the experiences of some of these enslaved people include moments of insurrections and revolts. The following collections, and others, document the discussions surrounding these events.

 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts,  Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Nat Turner & his confederates in conference" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Civil Rights Protests Civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall (left) and lawyer and political activist Benjamin J. Davis, circa 1940s

The Civil Rights Era is largely defined by boycotts, marches, and other acts of protest against Jim Crow legislation enacted during Reconstruction. Jim Crow laws were tools used to bar Black people from voting, obtaining fair housing, education, and other civil rights that White American citizens enjoyed.  Archival collections documenting Civil Rights Protests can be located in several places. When researching these types of protests, researchers should adjust their use of search terms to include both broad reaching civil rights discussions, and specific topics of civil rights including Black Power, Integration, and Education.

A few key collections that document Civil Rights Protests include:

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall (left) and lawyer and political activist Benjamin J. Davis, circa 1940s" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Post Civil Rights/ Black Power

The Post Civil Rights Era is the time period after the passage of three major pieces of Federal legislation byAll Power to the People the United States Congress. They included the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. This period, however was also wrought with the tragedy of the assassination of Malcolm X, on February 21, 1965, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. During this time period, groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense were created to combat overt police brutality in Black communities.

The following collections provide documentation around Black protest and life after the Civil Rights era.

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Art and Artifacts Division, The New York Public Library. "All power to the people" New York Public Library Digital Collections

Gay Liberation Movement

While the Civil Rights Movement began creating pathways to improve the lives of Black Americans, they continue to be disproportionality faced with obstacles preventing them from living equitable lives. Often times, these inequities have been amplified when Black people identify with multiple minority groups, such as being a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Some of the inequities include economic insecurity, violence and harassment, HIV and health equity, religious intolerance, and criminal injustice.

The following collections document Black LGBTQ+ community involvement in protest, including, the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

Manuscripts and Archives Division, The New York Public Library. "Gay Liberation Front women demonstrate at City Hall, New York " New York Public Library Digital Collections

Rare Books discussing Black Protestundefined

The rare book holdings of the Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division of the Schomburg Center date from the late sixteenth through the twentieth centuries, although the bulk of the titles are pre-1865 imprints. The collection contains first, early, and variant editions by Black authors up to 1901 and prize-winning titles by Black authors up to the present.

The following are rare book titles discussing rebellions and revolts lead by Black enslaved people.

SC Rare 973.7-B The Negro in the American Rebellion: His Heroism and his Fidelity

SC Rare MZ  Almost Jerusalem: The Confessions of Nathaniel Turner, leader of the Southampton County Slave Insurrection of 1831

SC Rare 973-V History of American Conspiracies: A record of treason, insurrection, rebellion & c., in the United State of American from 1760 to 1860

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "History of American conspiracies [title page]" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Available online through Hathi Trust

Founded in 2008, HathiTrust is a not-for-profit collaborative of academic and research libraries preserving 17+ million digitized items. HathiTrust offers reading access to the fullest extent allowable by U.S. copyright law, computational access to the entire corpus for scholarly research, and other emerging services based on the combined collection.

An account of some of the principal slave insurrections, and others, which have occurred, or been attempted, in the United States and elsewhere, during the last two centuries : with various remarks / collected from various sources by Joshua Coffin

The following materials have been selected for digitization from the Schomburg Collections. Some of the following materials may be restricted to viewing at a NYPL location, while others may be accessed with an internet collection.

Additional materials covering these topics are also available, but are not part of Schomburg collections.

Locate the following in NYPL Digital Collections:

Slave Insurrections  Frontispiece

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library. "Frontispiece" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Civil Rights EraPetitioners Julian Mayfield, Alphaeus Hunton, Alice Windom, W.A. Jeanpierre and Maya Angelou Make, outside the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana

Post Civil Rights/ Black Power Era

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Petitioners Julian Mayfield, Alphaeus Hunton, Alice Windom, W.A. Jeanpierre and Maya Angelou Make, outside the US Embassy in Accra, Ghana" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

The following are links to materials included in the Schomburg Center Web Archive.

Inspired by the Hashtag Syllabi that have been developed mostly by scholar-activists since 2014, the #HashtagSyllabusMovement web archive collection contains educational materials such as crowdsourced syllabi and public reading lists highlighting Black cultural production, race, police violence, and other social justice issues within the Black community. 

The following is a sample of Syllabi discussing protest:

 

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division, The New York Public Library. "Willie McGee in his cell at Hinds County Jail, Jackson, Mississippi" New York Public Library Digital Collections