The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, one of The New York Public Library’s renowned research libraries, is a world-leading cultural institution devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. The resources described below—sampled from the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division—merely hint at the depth and range of materials available to researchers at the Schomburg Center.


Explore everything the Library has to offer for Black History Month, and discover more recommended reads with the Schomburg Center’s Black Liberation Reading List.

The Maya Angelou papers consist of original manuscripts, computer-generated typescripts, galleys, and proofs of published work, as well as manuscripts for unpublished work and dozens of poems. Additionally, there is personal and professional correspondence, teaching files, printed matter, and materials from public and academic appearances and engagements.

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The James Baldwin papers document Baldwin's career as a writer, intellectual, and activist in the United States and abroad. Dating back to 1938, this archive of writings and related documents is indispensable to understanding the significance of his career as a writer and an engaged public man of letters. The archive will enable researchers to trace the textual evolution of virtually all of Baldwin's writings. Each of his novels, essays, screen treatments (including the treatment for an unproduced film about Malcolm X), and dramatic adaptations of his novels are present in the form of detailed manuscript notes, heavily reworked manuscript drafts or significant manuscript fragments, and typescript drafts with his often copious annotations and emendations. The archive contains draft manuscripts and typescripts of his poetry and his important reviews. In addition, there are also personal papers and business records produced by Baldwin and his estate.

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This collection consists of personal and professional material relating to Nat King Cole, including correspondence, programs, and advertisements. Additionally, there is printed matter, such as clippings and articles, scrapbooks, and scores (the largest series). Finally, there is material related to Cole's wife, Maria Cole, including scrapbooks, biographical material, and drafts for a book.

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The Frederick Douglass collection includes 10 autograph letters signed by Frederick Douglass; a typescript of "John Brown," an address delivered at Harpers Ferry and edited in Douglass's own hand; one pamphlet of an Anti-Fugitive Slave Law Meeting at which Douglass presided in 1851; obituaries of Douglass; miscellaneous printed matter; and photocopies and research materials relating to Douglass.

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The W.E.B Du Bois collection consists of a small body of speeches, articles, correspondence and related material primarily authored by Du Bois. Of special interest is a typescript, with editorial comments, of the first two chapters of Du Bois' autobiography, Dusk of Dawn: An Essay Toward an Autobiography of a Race Concept (1940). The collection also includes a typescript of an article entitled "Miscegenation" (1935). There are 13 speeches and a book review ranging in subject matter from "The Talented Tenth," to a tribute to Dr. Carter G. Woodson, race relations, labor issues, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Mahatma Gandhi. One of the speeches—"What the Negro Wants in 1948"—was delivered at a meeting of the NAACP.

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The Lorraine Hansberry Papers document Lorraine Hansberry's life as an award-winning playwright and activist, and chronicles her activities during the civil rights movement. Virtually all of Hansberry's writings, autobiographical materials, journals, diaries, and personal and professional correspondence are included here, as well as related materials generated by her late husband, Robert Nemiroff, and his third wife, Jewell Gresham-Nemiroff, as the executors of Hansberry's estate. Significant correspondents include Daisy Bates, Louis Burnham, Julian Mayfield, Robert Nemiroff, and William Worthy.

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The Langston Hughes collection includes biographical information about Hughes's life and activities alongside his writings, which form the largest series in the collection and consist of manuscripts, typescripts, and drafts of books, including Not Without Laughter, Famous American Negroes, and The First Book of Jazz; plays; poems; short stories; songs; and reviews of some of his published works. There’s also material relating to programs, activities, and events in which Hughes participated or was the subject, including memorial tributes, personal appearances, radio broadcasts, recordings, speeches, and television broadcasts. Papers related to programs which incorporated a presentation of Hughes's works consist of news clippings, printed programs, and leaflets announcing or describing the programs. There is also general criticism of Hughes as a writer, and some information on sources of his material in other institutions in the US.

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The Zora Neale Hurston collection comprises nine poems and one short story entitled "The Conversion of Man," and correspondence with William Clifford and Lawrence Jordan.

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The Paul Robeson collection includes correspondence, texts of speeches, articles, columns, and statements written by Paul Robeson and his wife, Eslanda Goode Robeson, as well as photographs, news clippings, and press releases documenting Robeson's artistic and political activities. The correspondence pertains to Robeson's artistic career, and includes letters written by Eslanda Robeson regarding her husband's difficulties as a result of his association with the Soviet Union. Additional correspondence, reports, news clippings, contracts, and printed matter were generated by Robeson's national tours from 1952 to 1956. Included are materials about the concert and riot which took place in Peekskill, NY, during one of Robeson's performances in 1949; correspondence and legal papers referring to his difficulties in his effort to have his United States passport restored; and letters by William Patterson and W.E.B. Du Bois. Also included are files on various organizations associated with Robeson in the 1950s, including the Council on African Affairs, the National Negro Labor Council, and the World Peace Council.

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The Malcolm X collection, which contains papers arranged in 10 series, comprises writings, personal memorabilia, organizational papers and printed matter documenting Malcolm X's activities and opinions as the Nation of Islam's first National Minister, and, following his separation from the organization and his embrace of orthodox Islam in early 1964, as a prominent advocate of human rights and self-determination for African Americans.

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The Malcolm X manuscripts held by the Schomburg Center include a partial manuscript, fragments, and and unpublished chapter of The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

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