The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture holds one of the best library collections focused on black history in the world. The collection was begun by a young black man newly arrived from Puerto Rico named Arturo Alfonso Schomburg. Arthur Schomburg (1874–1938), as he was called, worked as an elevator operator, bellhop, porter, and printer. On his own time he followed his passion: reading, writing, and collecting everything he could on the history of Africans and their descendants. It was said that Schomburg had a fifth-grade teacher who told him “Black people have no history, no heroes, no great moments.” He would prove that teacher very wrong.
Schomburg arrived in New York City at the age of 17 and became part of the exciting scene known as the Harlem Renaissance. Here he continued adding books, photographs, artwork, sheet music, newspapers, pamphlets, and memoirs to his growing collection.
In 1926 his whole incredible collection was sold to the 135th Street branch library. Even then Schomburg continued to add to it, often using his own money. When he began serving as curator at the library in 1932, he was able to reach out to young scholars. Schomburg told one scholar, “What you’re calling African history, Negro history, are the missing pages of World history.” After Schomburg’s death in 1938, the library was renamed in his honor.
This entry contributed by Curriculum Concepts International