The Library of Congress
[American Memory]

African-American Odyssey


Thanks to a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation, the Library launched a five-year effort to add rare and unique items from the Library's vast African-American collections to the National Digital Library.

A Special Presentation
 African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship
This Special Presentation of the Library of Congress exhibition, The African-American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship, showcases the Library's incomparable African-American collections. The presentation was not only a highlight of what is on view in this major black history exhibition, but also a glimpse into the Library's vast African-American collections. Both include a wide array of important and rare books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings.
Digital Collections
 The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress
The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The papers span the years 1841 to 1964, with the bulk of the material from 1862 to 1895. The Speech, Article, and Book File series contains the writings of Douglass and his contemporaries in the abolitionist and early women's rights movements. The Subject File series reveals Douglass's interest in diverse subjects such as politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women's suffrage, and prison reform. Scrapbooks document Douglass's role as minister to Haiti and the controversy surrounding his interracial second marriage.
 Jackie Robinson and Other Baseball Highlights, 1860s-1960s
When Jackie Robinson took the field as a Brooklyn Dodger in 1947, he became the first African American to play major league baseball in the twentieth century. Materials that tell his story, and the history of baseball in general, are located throughout the Library of Congress. The first online special presentation of these materials highlights Baseball, the Color Line, and Jackie Robinson, 1860s-1960s. The timeline draws on approximately thirty items--manuscripts, books, photographs, and ephemera--from many parts of the Library. The first three sections of the presentation describe the color line that segregated baseball for many years, the Negro Leagues, and Branch Rickey and Jackie Robinson--two men who played key roles in integrating the sport. The last two sections of the presentation explore Robinson's career as a Dodger and his civil rights activities. The second presentation called "Early Baseball Pictures, 1860s-1920s" features 34 intriguing photographs and prints arranged in the following categories: Baseball Beginnings, Game Day in the Majors, Players, Non-Major League Baseball, Major League Teams and Games.
 Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1938
This collection contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are available to the public for the first time. Born in Slavery was made possible by a major gift from the Citigroup Foundation.
 From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909
This collection from the Rare Book and Special Collections Division presents 396 pamphlets, published from 1822 through 1909, by African-American authors and others who wrote about slavery, African colonization, Emancipation, Reconstruction, and related topics. The materials range from personal accounts and public orations to organizational reports and legislative speeches. Among the authors represented are Frederick Douglass, Kelly Miller, Charles Sumner, Mary Church Terrell, and Booker T. Washington.
 Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860
Slaves and the Courts, 1740-1860 contains just over a hundred pamphlets and books (published between 1772 and 1889) concerning the difficult and troubling experiences of African and African-American slaves in the American colonies and the United States. The documents, most from the Law Library and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division of the Library of Congress, comprise an assortment of trials and cases, reports, arguments, accounts, examinations of cases and decisions, proceedings, journals, a letter, and other works of historical importance. Of the cases presented here, most took place in America and a few in Great Britain. Among the voices heard are those of some of the defendants and plaintiffs themselves as well as those of abolitionists, presidents, politicians, slave owners, fugitive and free territory slaves, lawyers and judges, and justices of the U.S. Supreme Court. Significant names include John Quincy Adams, Roger B. Taney, John C. Calhoun, Salmon P. Chase, Dred Scott, William H. Seward, Prudence Crandall, Theodore Parker, Jonathan Walker, Daniel Drayton, Castner Hanway, Francis Scott Key, William L. Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Denmark Vesey, and John Brown.

The mission of the Library of Congress is to make its resources available and useful to Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations. The goal of the Library's National Digital Library Program is to offer broad public access to a wide range of historical and cultural documents as a contribution to education and lifelong learning.

The Library of Congress presents these documents as part of the record of the past. These primary historical documents reflect the attitudes, perspectives, and beliefs of different times. The Library of Congress does not endorse the views expressed in these collections, which may contain materials offensive to some readers.

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