In commemoration of African American History Month, the Library of Congress will launch a new online exhibition about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization which has donated its records to the Library, where they are the most-consulted collection.
On February 3, Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, will officially launch the new website at myloc.gov/exhibitions/naacp.
The site will feature nearly 70 treasures from the NAACP’s storied history, including the “Call,” Oswald Garrison Villard’s manifesto that launched the NAACP; the organization’s constitution and bylaws; photos of such key events as the New York Silent Protest of 1917, the Marian Anderson concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and Rosa Parks’ 1955 arrest; documents about investigations of lynchings; President Harry Truman’s executive orders barring discrimination in the federal government and military; the Supreme Court decisions on discrimination; the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and background on seminal figures in the NAACP.
The online exhibition will expand to eventually feature some 150 items. “We are proud, at the Library, to make these historic NAACP records available to Congress and the American people,” Billington said. “This is both our largest collection, encompassing some 5 million items, and our most widely used collection. It is a stellar example of how access to the primary documents of our history—even our relatively recent history—can be important and deeply moving to researchers and visiting citizens alike. “The importance of this organization to the lives of African Americans—those alive today and their forebears and descendants—cannot be overstated,” Billington said.
The Library’s NAACP online exhibition and symposium both are made possible by the generous support of AARP. The records of the NAACP are the cornerstone of the Library’s unparalleled resources for the study of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.
The records were given to the Library of Congress in 1964 and are periodically augmented. They cover issues and history from the period 1842-2003. Included are manuscripts, prints, photographs, pamphlets, broadsides, audio tapes, phonograph records, films and video recordings.
A finding aid for these materials is available on the web at www.loc.gov/rr/mss/text/naacp-front.html.
In addition to the NAACP records, the Library also houses a vast array of materials useful in the study of African Americans’ struggle for equal rights: the original records of organizations including the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the microfilmed records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
The Library also holds the personal papers of major figures in black American history, including those of Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Arthur Spingarn, Moorfield Storey, James Forman, Patricia Roberts Harris, Edward W. Brooke, Thurgood Marshall, Robert L. Carter and Joseph Rauh. Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution.
The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions.
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