The African American Collection consists of primary and secondary sources located in the History Center’s Detre Library & Archives.

The emphasis of the African American Collection is to preserve historically significant materials written, owned, generated by or related to the history and culture of African Americans. These archives are comprised of manuscripts that include the personal papers of individuals and families, the records of organizations, institutions, businesses and agencies, and cultural memorabilia.

Items collected include:

  • Agendas, account books, autographs, and books
  • Correspondence, diaries, and journals
  • Ledgers, directories, family histories, and pamphlets
  • Newsletters and newspapers
  • Unpublished writings, sermons, and programs
  • Reports, proposals, minutes, memos
  • Letters, military documents, scrapbooks, and cultural memorabilia

Museum artifacts include:

  • Tools, furniture, textiles, art, paintings, and glassware
  • Instruments, folk creations, souvenirs, products, manufactured products, and commercial objects
  • Quilts, dolls, dresses, and jewelry
  • Clothing, religious artifacts, political campaign buttons, sports uniforms, and banners

Photographs, film, and sound include:

  • Photographic images and prints, negatives, transparencies, and slides
  • Filmstrips, posters, and digital scans
  • Film, video, audio recordings, diskettes, tape, compact disks, and other recording media

Oral histories are also accessible in the Library & Archives. The recording and transcribing of oral histories help to tell the African American story and serve to include those experiences that do not have supporting documentation or memorabilia.


Catalog Search

The Detre Library & Archives catalog is available online. Use keywords: African American, Afro-American, Negro, Negroes, Colored, Blacks, and applicable subject, title, and author to access the African American Collection.


Sources for family history research can be found in the Detre Library & Archives. Included are published and non-published family histories, reference text particular to black genealogy, indexes, census records, and archival collections.