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Arturo (Arthur) Schomburg Research Guide: Schomburg's Legacy

A guide to resources related to bibliophile and curator Arturo Schomburg.

Exterior of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black CultureAfter Arturo Schomburg's death, the Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints was renamed in his honor, and continued to grow under the leadership of Lawrence Reddick and Jean Blackwell Hutson. In 1972, the Schomburg Collection was designated as one of the Research Libraries of The New York Public Library and became the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. In 2015, the Schomburg Center won the National Medal for Museum and Library Service and in 2017, it was named a National Historic Landmark. Today, Arturo Schomburg's seed library has grown to over 11 million items, including books, photographs, artworks, films, and digital material, and the Center that bears his name is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Learn more about the ongoing Arturo Schomburg commemorative stampwork of the Schomburg Center here.

Outside of the library, Schomburg has been the namesake of two New York City public schools, a doctoral scholarship at SUNY Buffalo, and a housing development in Manhattan. In May 2020, the United States Postal Service issued an Arturo Schomburg commemorative stamp, as part of the Voices of the Harlem Renaissance series. 

In this episode of the Into America podcast, host Trymaine Lee speaks with Vanessa Valdés, author of Diasporic Blackness: The Life and Times of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Shola Lynch, curator of the Moving Image and Recorded Sound Division of the Schomburg Center, and Arturo Schomburg’s grandson Dean Schomburg to better understand who Arturo was and the impact of his legacy on Black identity and Black culture.

Since 2014, the Schomburg Center has hosted an annual Arturo Schomburg Lecture. Watch the inaugural lecture, delivered by Frances Negrón-Muntaner, associate professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

In 2015, the Puerto Rican Day Parade honored Arturo Schomburg. Watch parade director Orlando Plaza, former Schomburg Center director Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Schomburg's great-granddaughter Aysha discuss his life and legacy in a video made for the occasion.

Black History and Culture Institutions

Arturo Schomburg created a lasting legacy of collecting materials by and about the Black diaspora. The following institutions also preserve and provide access to the history of people of Black ancestry. While this list is not exhaustive, it is a starting point to learn more.

Avery Research Center for African American HistoryThe mission of the Avery Research Center is to collect, preserve, and promote the unique history and culture of the African diaspora, with an emphasis on Charleston, the South Carolina Lowcountry, and beyond. Avery’s archival collections, museum exhibitions, and public programming reflect these diverse populations as well as the wider African Diaspora.

Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City- The mission of the Black Archives of Mid-America in Kansas City, Inc. is to collect, preserve and make available to the public materials documenting the social, economic, political and cultural histories of persons of African American descent in the central United States, with particular emphasis in the Kansas City, Missouri region. Black Archives of Mid-America is an educational resource and provides access to its collections for research, exhibition and publication to honor our community heritage and to catalyze public awareness.

California African American Museum- The mission is to research, collect, preserve, and interpret for public enrichment the history, art, and culture of African Americans with an emphasis on California and the western United States.

The Colored Girls MuseumThe Colored Girls Museum is a memoir museum, which honors the stories, experiences, and history of ordinary Colored Girls.

DuSable Museum of African American History- The mission is to promote understanding and inspire appreciation of the achievements, contributions, and experiences of African Americans through exhibits, programs, and activities that illustrate African and African American history, culture and art.

Florida A & M University Southeastern Regional Black Archives Research Center and Museum- A specialty museum and archives which houses regalia and printed material relevant to the history of Africans and African Americans. Of particular interest are the collection, preservation, and dissemination of information significant to African Americans and their experiences and contributions in Florida and throughout the Southeastern United States.

Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park- Is preserving and sustaining the historical significance of Mitchelville, the first site where people born into slavery became free in the United States.

Hutchins Center for African & African American Research- A comprehensive repository devoted to the systematic investigation of how people of African descent have been perceived and represented in art.

Museum of African American History- The mission is to inspires all generations to embrace and interpret the authentic stories of New Englanders of African descent, and those who found common cause with them, in their quest for freedom and justice. Through its historic buildings, collections, and programs, the Museum expands cultural understanding and promotes dignity and respect for all.

Museum of the African Diaspora- A contemporary art museum, celebrates Black cultures, ignites challenging conversations, and inspires learning through the global lens of the African Diaspora.

National Civil Rights Museum- The mission is to share the culture and lessons from the American Civil Rights Movement and explore how this significant era continues to shape equality and freedom globally.

National Museum of African American History and Culture- The only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, history, and culture. 

National Underground Freedom Center-  A museum of conscience, an education center, a convener of dialogue, and a bea­con of light for inclusive freedom around the globe.

Northwest African American Museum- The mission is to spread knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of the histories, arts and cultures of people of African descent for the enrichment of all. We accomplish our mission by working with others to present and preserve the connections between the Pacific Northwest and people of African descent; and to investigate and celebrate Black experiences in America through exhibitions, programs and events.

Learn from the comfort of your home with these online resources: An online reference center makes available a wealth of materials on African American history in one central location on the Internet.

BlkFreedom.orgThrough educational content, artistic performances, and shareable discussion prompts, this collaborative program will explore the meaning and relevance of “freedom”, “justice” and “democracy” in Black American life, from a historical and contemporary framework.

A Digital Collection Celebrating the Founding of the Historically Black College and University- A collection of primary resources from HBCU libraries and archives. It includes several thousand scanned pages and represents HBCU libraries first collaborative effort to make a historic collection digitally available. Collections are contributed from member libraries of the Historically Black College and University Library Alliance.