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Black Bookstore Research Guide: Home

Guide to resources related to independent Black bookstores. Guide by Makoroba Sow

Welcome to the Black Bookstore Research Guide of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The Black Bookstore Research Guide is intended to provide an introduction to the cultural, historical, and political significance of the independently owned black bookstore in the United States. The Guide is not an exhaustive list of the Schomburg's holdings relevant to the study of black bookstores, nor is it an exhaustive guide to the entire subject of black bookstores. Rather, it is a curated list meant to encourage further exploration.

The Black Bookstore Research Guide is organized into three main categories: the Black Book Collector, the Black Bookseller and Bookstore, and the Repression of the Black Bookstore. The resources presented span the collections of the Schomburg Center divisions: Research and Reference, Manuscripts. Archives and Rare Books, Photographs and Prints, and Moving Image and Recorded Sound. Especially highlighted is the Schomburg Clippings File of the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division. The Clippings File is a collection of print material across hundreds of subjects from 1925 to 1989, that has been thoughtfully and diligently collected by Schomburg Librarians through the years. Links to clippings file material will direct you to the Clippings File indexes.

Most of the material referenced in the Guide can be viewed at the Schomburg Center, while some resources can be accessed online with the use of your NYPL library card

"Over the years, owners of black bookstores became the keepers of black culture and continued to maintain their shops as an expression of pride, history, and cultural identify. The black consciousness movement of the 1960s and early 1970s spurred an increasing interest in publishing and purchasing black books. The largest growth years for black bookstores came between the late 1960s and through the 1990s. By 1999, there were over 500 black book-vending enterprises in the United States, ranging from mail and Web site ventures to full-service commercial stores. In 2008 only about 150 of the physical bookstores were known to exist." 

-- The Encyclopedia of African American Popular Culture, "Books and Bibliophilesby Dr. Jesse Carney Smith. 

Today there is a renewed interest in Black-owned bookstores. 

-Makoroba Sow, former Pre-Professional, Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division

From the Schomburg Clipping File, 1925-1974, Bookstores