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Arturo (Arthur) Schomburg Research Guide: Writings by Schomburg

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

"Is Hayti Decadent?" by A.A. Schomburg printed pamphletArturo Schomburg was a contributor to many major Black periodicals of his day, including The Crisis, Opportunity, Negro World, and The New York Amsterdam News. Essays by Schomburg were featured in The New Negro, Alain Locke's influential 1925 anthology, as well as Negro Anthology, a 1934 compilation of Black literature edited by Nancy Cunard.

Schomburg's earliest published writings were written in the 1890s, just after he had immigrated to New York, for Patria, the newspaper of the Cuban Revolutionary Party founded by José Martí. The brief articles advertised Las Dos Antillas, the political club cofounded by Schomburg, which advocated for Cuban and Puerto Rican independence. His first English-language article, "Is Hayti Decadent?" was published in 1904 in the Unique Advertiser, and he continued to write about Caribbean history and politics throughout his life.

Schomburg often argued for the study of Black history in both speeches and print, as exemplified in his most famous essay, "The Negro Digs Up His Past." He devoted himself to this task both through his collection of books and manuscripts, and in the chronicles of the African diaspora and notable figures of African descent that he frequently contributed to periodicals like Opportunity and The New York Amsterdam News, for which he had a weekly "Our Pioneers" column highlighting the contributions of Black people throughout history.

As he amassed his book collection, he also wrote about the books themselves: he compiled A Bibliographic Checklist of American Negro Poetry, published by book dealer Charles F. Heartman, and contributed a feature on "Unusual Books" to fellow Black bibliophile Alexander Gumby's short-lived Book Studio Quarterly. He also regularly reviewed newly published books of his contemporaries, including works by Harlem Renaissance figures Claude McKay, Carter Woodson, and James Weldon Johnson.

In addition to his featured articles, Schomburg was an avid writer of letters to editor, writing in to both Black and white newspapers to offer his opinion on issues both large (arguing that Puerto Ricans should be granted American citizenship) and small (reporting a poorly maintained sidewalk on West 63rd Street).

There is one published collection of Schomburg's writings: Arturo Alfonso Schomburg: A Puerto Rican's Quest for His Black Heritage, edited and annotated by Flor Piñeiro de Rivera. Many of his articles can be accessed online via NYPL's electronic databases.

How to Access Articles by Schomburg

Digitized Books and Pamphlets by Schomburg