Best Black Archive in the World | Manhattan Times

Story by Gregg McQueen

The 1970s-era Grandassa Models sported natural Afro hairstyles in their fashion shows. (© KWAME BRATHWAITE 1968)

There are secrets everywhere – even beneath the floorboards.

With recently achieved National Historic Landmark status, fresh renovations and a new exhibition spotlighting the history of the Black Power movement, these are eventful times for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

A research center within the New York Public Library (NYPL) system, the Schomburg is a prominent archive for information on African descent and has been an integral part of Harlem’s cultural fabric since 1925.

The center’s collection boasts millions of items including rare books, photographs and transcripts. The Schomburg hosts readings, exhibits, theater performances and community events, and serves as a research hub for scholars in residence.

And an online “Digital Schomburg” archive provides users with 24/7 access to articles, photographs and video streams.

“We’re more than just a library — we’re here to encourage lifelong education and interaction with the community,” said Center Director Kevin Young.

In January, the Schomburg received National Historic Landmark status from the U.S. Department of the Interior, a designation which lists the center in the National Register of Historic Places and allows it to receive government funding for preservation and programming.​

“It’s a great honor and a validation of the work that Schomburg has been doing for over 90 years,” remarked Young.

Located at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard, the center is named for Arturo Alfonso Schomburg, Puerto Rican scholar of African and German descent, who amassed an extensive trove of documents and artifacts on black culture before selling them to the NYPL in 1926.

In 2015, the center received the National Medal for Museum and Library Service. It was among ten recipients of the National Medal, the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries, in recognition of service to the community and for making a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Read more: Best Black Archive in the World

Related: The New Yorker Salutes The Schomburg Center & The Harlem Renaissance

Members of The Young Lords, the Puerto Rican national civil and human rights, marching in the Bronx to support members of the Black Panther Party. (© HIRAM MARISTANY, NEW YORK )


Read more: Best Black Archive in the World

Related: The New Yorker Salutes The Schomburg Center & The Harlem Renaissance

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