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African-American Newspapers and Periodicals

The ideal of a library would be to have all information of all peoples equally accessible. However, because of many, often unstated, cultural biases, this has not happened. Publications produced by and that appeal to people with greater economic resources are usually collected with more frequency and consistency than those for people without those resources. The poor do not tend to sponsor or build libraries, donate their papers, or found influential periodicals. Therefore, libraries have an unfortunate bias to collect certain sections of society in greater depth than others.

African-Americans are one of the groups whose publications have not been collected consistently by libraries. "The historical record has been deformed by the lack of fair and equitable collecting by libraries," says James P. Danky. "The effects of slavery, of Jim Crow, of segregation, of racism, have permeated all aspects of American life, black and white. As official institutions of the dominant society, libraries could not possibly be exempt — and they were not. Libraries and the men and women who staffed them, again with a few exceptions, selected materials for their collections that  reflected their own experiences: nearly all white, middle-class, English-speaking and, despite the female presence, male-dominated." 1

Danky's work has produced a comprehensive guide to newspapers and periodicals of African Americans, The African-American Newspapers and Periodicals: A National Bibliography and Union List, a description of more than 6,500 titles and their locations. A follow-up grant has been awarded to the Society from the National Endowment for the Humanities to preserve African-American periodicals on microfilm.

1 - Danky, "Introduction: The Black Press and White Institutions", AANP : A Bibliography, p. xxxiii-xxxiv.

Comments or Questions?

Contact the Library Reference Department by email at asklibrary@wisconsinhistory.org or by phone at 608-264-6535.


 

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