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Africana studies collection

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This page describes Africana collections.  For a guide to Africana databases and other resources visit Africana Studies. Africana Studies is an interdisciplinary program aimed at understanding the experience of members of the African diaspora.  The Africana fund primarily purchases works in the humanities and social sciences related to the African diaspora.  Additional material is purchased by area studies funds--especially African and Latin American Studies--French Literature, English Literature, Anthropology and Archaeology, the History of Art, and a broad range of social sciences.  Material supporting Africana Studies are mainly located in Van Pelt Library, but the Fisher Fine Arts Library and Museum Library have significant holdings as well.  

Collection description

Over the past 20 years the Library has purchased monographs relating to Africana Studies at a high level to support consistently high interest and growing curricular needs.  Aside from scholarly books, novels, genre fiction, poetry and play scripts are all well represented.  Nonetheless, BorrowDirect access to the collections of Ivy Plus Libraries serves the essential purposes of filling gaps in our collections and providing second copies when Penn's are unavailable.  Aside from books, the Library has a robust collection of electronic primary and secondary source resources to support research about the African diaspora during all time periods and in all locations.  The video collection in DVD and streaming formats is another strength.   

Special collections

The Kislak Center is notable for its collections of material related to African Americans in music and culture, including the Marion Anderson Collection, James DuPriest papers, and records of the Painted Bride Arts Center.  Kislak is developing its collection of Africana resources through purchases of underground newspapers, a run of The Black Panther, and antebellum slavery records. Penn's University Archives house material relating to the African American experience at Penn, including the Raymond Pace Alexander and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander papers.

The principal repository of material in the Philadelphia area concerning African Americans is the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American collection, a component of the Temple University libraries. This collection of over 30,000 items contains "materials on the global black experience in all formats: books, manuscripts, sheet music, pamphlets, journals, newspapers, broadsides, posters, photographs, and rare ephemera. In addition, the collection houses selected artifacts." The Library Company of Philadelphia has extensive holdings in African Americana materials from the 19th century and earlier.  Material relating to Africana Studies is available in special collections throughout the Delaware Valley, listed here.


Links to special collections will go here if they exist.
Links to policies will go here if they exist.

Related collections

Doing research

As an interdisciplinary subject, students doing research in Africana Studies will likely want investigate resources related to a wide range of areas of study.


Franklin Catalog  |  International Index to Black Periodicals  |  Proquest History Vault  |  Gale Primary Sources  |  Proquest Platform Search  |  more...

Reference works

Research guides