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Voices of the Harlem Renaissance within the Schomburg Center: Home

This guide will navigate researchers through materials documenting the Harlem Renaissance at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Aspects of Negro Life

The Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was a cultural explosion of Black art, music, and literature spanning from 1918 to the mid 1930s. It was made possible in large part due to the the influx of 6- million Black Southerners into urban cities throughout the country beginning around 1916, often referred to as The Great Migration. This migration was a large undertaking, chosen by individuals and families alike in an effort to have a better standard of living outside of the racist confines of the Jim Crow South which restricted many of their basic freedoms. Moving out of the south held the promise of greater opportunities for employment, fair housing, and protection under the law.  Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York absorbed a large percentage of the hopeful travelers. Harlem, a specific neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan, swelled with Black families and businesses due to the availability of affordable apartments after WWI. Residents included artists, writers, and intellectuals; quickly, Harlem became know as the Black cultural Mecca of the early 20th century.

The Schomburg Center is a product of the Harlem Renaissance that served as an information hub, and gathering place. In 1926, the New York Public Library purchased "2,932 volumes, 1,124 pamphlets, and many valuable prints and manuscripts," from collector and Black scholar, Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. This collection was cataloged, then deposited at the the 135th street Branch Library of the New York Public Library. The "Seed Library" later grew into the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

This research guide will highlight archival collections at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture that were created by Black artists, musicians, and writers during the Harlem Renaissance.