Trending: African American History Month

(The following article by Audrey Fischer is from the January/February 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.)

Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Manuscript Division.

Carter G. Woodson, 1947. Prints and Photographs Division.

One man’s dedication to a field of study inspired the moniker “the father of African American history.”

With this year’s theme of “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories,” 2016 African American History Month will be celebrated in schools, libraries and other cultural institutions throughout the month of February.

One such sacred ground is 1538 Ninth Street N.W. in Washington, D.C., home to Carter G. Woodson, pictured above, (1875-1950), the Harvard-educated historian who established Black History Week in 1926. The property was declared a National Historic Site in 1976—the same year that the recognition of African Americans’ contributions to the nation was extended to a month-long celebration.


In his “Message on the Observance of Black History Month” in February 1976, President Gerald Ford acknowledged Woodson’s founding of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASAALH) as a way to document those contributions. The organization was founded in 1915 at the house on Ninth Street, where Carter lived until his death in 1950. With more than 25 branches, the membership organization holds an annual convention in cities across the nation.

Woodson believed that, “Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history.” He devoted his life to researching, publishing and increasing public awareness of black history and culture.

Woodson researched his dissertation at the Library of Congress, where he was encouraged by Manuscript Division Chief J. Franklin Jameson to seek funding to further his goals. With a grant from the Carnegie Foundation, Woodson founded the ASAALH. In 1929 and 1938, Woodson donated his papers to the Library of Congress. The bulk of the collection’s 18,000 items have been microfilmed and the film is available in the Library’s Manuscript Reading Room.

The collection includes primary documents relating to African-American life and history during the slavery, Reconstruction and “New South” eras. It also includes material related to Woodson’s editing of the “Encyclopedia Africana,” a comprehensive guide to African peoples, leaders, and luminaries in Africa, the United States, South America, the Caribbean, and worldwide. The unpublished research for that ambitious publication, along with other unique items, makes the collection a valuable resource for scholars and students of African American history.

New Blog Series: New Online

(The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.) This is the first post in a new monthly series highlighting new collections, items and presentations on the Library’s website. After checking out the items mentioned here, be sure to visit some of our other blogs that highlight our […]

He Came From the Near East

(The following is a guest post written by Anchi Hoh, a program specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.) If you read last month’s Christmas-related blog post “An Armenian ‘Three Magi’ at the Library of Congress” by Levon Avdoyan, you may be wondering how the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division acquired some of […]

Highlighting the Holidays: An Armenian “Three Magi” at the Library of Congress

(The following is a guest post by Levon Avdoyan, Armenian and Georgian area specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.) When I began working at the Library of Congress in 1992 as the Armenian and Georgian Area Specialist to the Near East Section of the African and Middle Eastern Division, it was as if […]

Going to Extremes: The Greatest Wedding Cake on Earth?

(The following is an article written by Audrey Fischer, managing editor of the Library of Congress Magazine, and featured in the November/December 2015 issue. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Library’s food collections include once-edible artifacts. On Feb. 10, 1863, an event occurred that caused a media sensation and distracted the […]

Looking Back on the Bus Boycott

(The following post is by Jeanne Theoharis, distinguished professor of political science at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and the author of the award-winning “The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks.” A revised edition of the book has just been published with a new introduction drawn from the recently opened papers […]

Rare Book of the Month: A Suffragist “In the Kitchen”

(The following is a guest blog post written by Elizabeth Gettins, Library of Congress digital library specialist.)  It’s the time of year when one’s thoughts turn to hearth and home in preparation for Thanksgiving. In honor of this quintessential American holiday, “In the Kitchen,” by Elizabeth Smith Miller, is the Rare Book of the Month. […]

Serving Up Food Collections

(The following story, written by Library culinary specialist Alison Kelly, is featured in the November/December 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The Nation’s Library offers a veritable feat of food-related collections. Whether you’re researching what was served at the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving or […]

Library in the News: September 2015 Edition

In September, the Library of Congress had some big headlines – from the announcements of new collections to celebrating the 15th annual National Book Festival and the inaugural reading of the new poet laureate. The Library received a very special visitor and a very special book to add to its collections last month. During his […]