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Rare Books and Special Collections At Northern Illinois University: African American Collection

A brief guide to Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University

African American Collection Links

African American Collection

African American Collection

We continually add materials to the African American Collection. If you would like to donate materials to this collection, or have a suggestion for a purchase, please contact Sarah Cain, the Curator.

Nearly all of our materials for this collection are located in our online catalog. To find out which books the library has in this collection, search for "African American Collection" including the quote marks under Any Word Anywhere in the online catalog.

The African-American Collection includes over 200 books and other materials in all subject areas by and about African Americans and other people of African descent throughout the world. Special emphases are placed on Black history, civil rights movements in the United States, literature by African American authors and pamphlets by Black authors on slavery, emancipation, and the Black experience in the United States. Northern also holds the papers of Willard Motley, an African-American writer who was part of the Chicago Renaissance.

Early highlights from the collection include the first book ever published by an African-American, Phyllis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral(1773); the original edition of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass (1856); an early edition of William Still's The Underground Railroad; and an issue of the Liberator. Related materials also live in our American Popular Literature, Private Press, Gender Studies, and Rare Book Collections.

More modern materials include pamphlets on the Scottsboro Case; many titles by and about the Black Panther Party and Angela Davis; published speeches by Martin Luther King,Jr. and Malcolm X; signed books by Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and Gwendolyn Brooks. We also hold a large run of Minister Louis Farrakhan's The Final Call newspaper.

Recent acquisitions include Countee Cullen's The Lost Zoo (1969); the first edition of Passing by Nella Larsen; and signed first editions of Audre Lorde's The Cancer Journals and First Cities.

Related Collections

Subject Guide