Opening the Archive Thinking about collections

Archiving our US Civil Rights material

Documentation Assistant Carly Morel is currently pulling together various bits of American Civil Rights material to create a new open-ended archive collection. She highlights a couple of interesting items for us:

With US politics so much in the headlines at the moment, I thought, what better time to tackle our US Civil Rights material?

image of four old civil rights journalsWe had two boxes of mixed material, which had come into the library from a variety of places over the years and, with our move to Central Library, were shifted into the archive strongroom for safe keeping.

At first it seemed like a daunting task due to the broad nature of US Civil Rights as a subject. However once I had the material in front of me I was able to break it down into various subjects.

As always, some key pieces really stood out. This included a number of African American periodicals, including early additions of The Crisis: record of the darker races from 1918 and 1919. Although these pamphlets are available electronically, it’s always nice to hold such an old original in the archive. I was especially excited to find early editions (1984 and 1986) of Black History and the Class Struggle; a pamphlet that is rare to access in this country.

One controversial item that caught my eye was a packet of material put together by Congresswoman Maxine Waters titled: Cocaine, Contras & the CIA: How they Introduced Crack Into the Inner City. Following a 1996 San Jose Mercury article alleging the complicity of the CIA in the Los Angeles crack epidemic of the 1980s, Waters called for an investigation. Waters’ packet includes letters to the Attorney General and to CIA Director John Deuch. Fascinating reading.

Other items in the archive include reports, material on policing and riots, books on Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Dr. W.E.B DuBois.

This interesting archive will be available to view very soon – watch this space!

By aiucentre

An open access library specialising in the study of race, ethnicity and migration. Part of the University of Manchester and based at Manchester Central Library.

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