Among the voluminous items of archival and manuscript materials in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a wealth of material concerning African American history and culture.
The Duke University Libraries began collecting resources documenting the African American experience beginning in the early 1930s, starting with print materials and expanding into an array of manuscript formats. As the collecting practices of African American collections developed through the twentieth century within the library, the earliest materials were predominately White authored/created collections commenting on or providing observations on Black lives. In the later part of the century through today Black authored/created collections providing first-person perspectives on Black lives have been sought to provide a more balanced approach. Researchers should be mindful that in both the collections and the descriptions of those collections, there is a legacy of harmful language and depiction of race.
In 1995, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History & Culture was established as a concentrated curatorial area to foster collecting and research in Black history. But collecting the African American experience is not solely limited to the Franklin Research Center, as Black history is discoverable across of the library's collecting areas.
This guide is designed to highlight the subject of special focus that have emerged across these areas. It is collection centered, from single items to multi-box collections.