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Fri, 12.18.1914

The Moorland-Spingarn Collection is Established

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Collection was celebrated on this date in 1914.  This is a vast collection of scholarly materials by and about people of African descent at Howard University.

The holdings of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) chronicle the experiences of Black people in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world from the sixteenth century through the present. It is composed of two divisions: Library and Manuscript. The Library Division houses over 180,000 books, periodicals, and microforms in numerous languages. Literature includes rare works by early Black writers from David Walker and Phyllis Wheatley to Richard Wright and Alice Walker.

The Manuscript Division is a collection of primary source materials divided into four departments: manuscripts, music, oral history, and prints and photographs. The department contains the correspondences, writings, and memorabilia of more than 160 African American people and organizations. The MSRC is named for its two benefactors, Jesse E. Moorland and Arthur B. Spingarn. Moorland was a minister, YMCA executive, and collector of materials about African American culture and history, emphasizing on the history of slavery.

Arthur B. Spingarn was a white American Jewish lawyer, NAACP officer, and collector of books by Black authors.  He began collecting books by Black authors in response to white scholars' claim that people of African descent would continue to be viewed as inferior until the day a Black man could read a book by a Black author.  The books he accumulated explored topics in every academic field of study and were written in all major African and European languages.

Jesse Moorland, a Black minister from Ohio, devoted himself to Black social organizations such as the National Health Circle for Colored People, and he helped found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History.

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center has become one of the most valuable resources for studying of the Black experience.


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Howard University
Manuscript Division, Founders Library
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Washington, DC 20059
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