The Division of Negro Literature, History and Prints -- the forerunner to today's Schomburg Center -- opened in 1925 as a special collection of the 135th Street Branch library to meet the needs of a changing community.
In 1926, the New York Public Library purchased Arturo Alfonso Schomburg's collection of art, artifacts, manuscripts, visual materials, books and pamphlets for $10,000; this addition greatly enhanced the holdings of the Negro Division. Within that collection were an estimated 4,056 books and pamphlets.
Schomburg served as curator of the Division from 1932 until his death in 1938.
In 1940, the Division was renamed the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature, History and Prints in honor of its founder. 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.