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About the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division

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The JBH Research and Reference Division holds and provides access to books, serials, and microforms containing information by and about people of African descent throughout the world, concentrating on the humanities, social sciences, and the arts. Geographically, the collection emphasizes the Americas, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

The division acquires monographs and serials (newspapers, newsletters, periodicals) and microforms. English is the predominate language of the division's holdings supplemented by works in French, Portuguese, Spanish, German, and other European languages, including Russian. The division has works in over two hundred indigenous African languages and creole languages and dialects. Works in non-Roman scripts are not acquired except for Ethiopian language materials (Amharic and Ge'ez), bilingual texts, dictionaries, and translations of African American literary classics in Asian languages such as Japanese and Chinese.

The Schomburg Center acquires materials from areas with substantial populations of African origin including the African continent and surrounding islands and regions of the African diaspora. The diasporan emphasis is on the Western Hemisphere including the Caribbean, South America (notably Brazil), Central America, and North America. Resources are also collected from the major cities of Europe where large groups of immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa reside.

The division's holdings cover disciplines within the arts, humanities, and social sciences as well as the presence and role of people of African descent in the natural and pure sciences. Works on the history of Harlem and Blacks in New York and the Northeast region; texts on Harlem and Blacks in the performing and visual arts; and African, Caribbean and African American literature holdings are particularly strong. Additionally, the division maintains a strong retrospective and current collection of African American, Caribbean, and African newspapers and other serials.

Special Features

Collection Presentations Information

Information contained in flyers, newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets, and ephemera is available in the Center's Vertical File, a reference tool with nearly 7,000 subject headings. Items through 1988 are on microfiche.

One of the Schomburg Center's most unique finding aids is the Ernest D. Kaiser Index to Black Resources, a file of nearly 200,000 citations to articles in thousands of issues of Black magazines and newspapers, some of which ceased publication decades ago. On-site access to the Kaiser Index is offered through the Schomburg Center's list of online databases and indexes.

The Jean Black Hutson Research and Reference Division develops and maintains a variety of subject bibliographies.

Photocopies of many of the materials in the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division are accessible in person or by mail.

Call Ahead Service

You can have items from the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division closed stacks or off-site materials from the collections of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building and the Science, Industry & Business Library waiting for you when you arrive. Just phone or email your requests: 
(212) 491-2242 or 491-2218, callaheadgenref@nypl.org

Please give us the following information (exact call numbers are required):

  • To request periodicals: Exact call number; title, volume number and/or date
  • To request books: Exact call number, author’s name (first and last); title
  • Your contact information: Email address and telephone number(s)

Please note:

  • You are limited to 3 items per day.
  • At least 24-hour advance notice is required for on-site materials. Earlier notice is appreciated.
  • Offsite materials may require two business days. For example: a request placed on Tuesday should be available on Thursday; requests placed Thursday afternoons through Saturday will be filled on the following Tuesday.
  • Some materials may not be available. When this occurs, we will make every effort to notify you ahead of time. Please verify that your materials are ready.
  • Material not called for within 3 business days after you are notified will be returned to the stacks.

Exceptions:

  • Materials held in the special collections divisions may not be requested in advance
  • Newspapers, unbound periodicals, maps, materials in microform and books from our open-shelf reference collection may not be requested in advance.