Free Library adds searchable archives of 10 Black American newspapers

Interested Philadelphians can now access “a more complete story of American history.”

blacknewspapers-freelibraryarchives
Free Library archives

Philadelphia library cardholders now have access to a trove of reporting that provides a Black perspective on the past century and a half in the United States.

In adding the archives of 10 Black newspapers to its digital collection, the Free Library hopes to give members the opportunity to discover “a more complete story of American history,” says a July 30 post announcing the new resource. Available documents include reported articles, columns, editorials, obituaries and photographs that tell the country’s recent history from a Black perspective.

All you need to get started is a library card, which you can sign up for online here — just enter your name, email and mailing address and you’ll get sent a card number almost immediately.

There’s a lot of turmoil at the Free Library right now, with the longtime president and director resigning amid allegations of a culture of discrimination against Black workers. Staff has also expressed lack of confidence in leadership to provide proper safety materials and protocols during the coronavirus crisis.

Because of the pandemic, branches still are not open for visitors, but they did recently begin offering limited services: you can make an appointment to pick up materials, drop off books to return, and call library staff for recommendations.

And now there’s the new collection of Black newspapers, which was put together by ProQuest, a Michigan company that serves research institutions across the world.

The Philadelphia Tribune, considered the nation’s oldest continuously published African American newspaper, is prominently featured, with its own search page that gives access to articles from 1912 to 2001.

Other papers in the collection are:

  • The Pittsburgh Courier (1911-2002)
  • The Chicago Defender (1910-1975)
  • New York Amsterdam News (1922-1993)
  • The Baltimore Afro-American (1893-1988)
  • The Norfolk Journal and Guide (1916-2003)
  • The Atlanta Daily Word (1931-2003)
  • The Los Angeles Sentinel (1934-2005)
  • The Michigan Chronicle (1936-2010)
  • The Cleveland Call and Post (1934-1991)

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