A Digital Glimpse Into Arturo Schomburg’s Collections

By Lisa Herndon, Managers, Schomburg Communications and Publicity
January 20, 2021
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Arturo Schomburg. NYPL Digital Collections, Image ID: 1939249

Arturo Schomburg (1874-1938) was a writer, curator, and bibliophile whose collection of books, manuscripts, and artwork became the cornerstone of the Schomburg Center’s collections. His circle of friends included literary legends such as Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson, and Carter G. Woodson. His collections have signed copies of their books and one once owned by activist Mary Church Terrell.

As we honor Mr. Schomburg on his birthday on January 24, explore the HathiTrust Digital Library, NYPL, and the Schomburg Center’s digital collections to read replicas of books similar to those he owned. Plus, view the guide librarians recently created about his life, legacy, and collections.

ZORA NEALE HURSTON

"To Arthur Schomburg a great scholar and a fine friend,” wrote Zora Neale Hurston in the first edition copy of Their Eyes Were Watching God.  The text came to the collection following NYPL’s purchase of Mr. Schomburg's seed collection. Read or re-read this literary classic: NYPL has a recent edition of this book, which is available to borrow.

JAMES WELDON JOHNSON

"To my good friend, Arthur A. Schomburg, whose kindness and interest helped make this ‘book’ possible,” poet and activist James Weldon Johnson wrote in 1922. The Book of American Negro Poetry was part of the 1926 purchase by NYPL of Mr. Schomburg’s seed collection. Explore the HathiTrust Digital Library's replica of the book.

CARTER G. WOODSON

"To A.A. Schomburg with the best wishes,” wrote “C.G. Woodson” in 1922 to Mr. Schomburg. The HathiTrust Digital Library also has a digital replica of The Negro In Our History.

MARY CHURCH TERRELL

Mr. Schomburg’s copy of The First Colored Baptist Church in North America was once owned by Mary Church Terrell. Author James M. Simms penned a message to the activist. The digital collections of the Center’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division and the Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division have illustrations, text, and inscription of the book.

RESEARCH GUIDE

Are you inspired to learn more about Mr. Schomburg? Explore the guide created by librarians Allison Hughes, Matthew Murphy, and Bridgett Pride at the Center’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division for links to research materials on Mr. Schomburg. 

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