Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia
An Archive of Americana Collection
A touchstone for scholars and students alike. To have it available online...is a dream come true.
Richard Newman, Former Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology

Quick Facts

  • One of the world's preeminent collections for African American studies
  • An unparalleled record of African American history, literature and culture
  • Available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten chronological segments

Overview

Created from the Library Company’s acclaimed Afro-Americana Collection—an accumulation that began with Benjamin Franklin and steadily increased throughout its entire history—this unique online resource will provide researchers with more than 12,000 printed works. These essential books, pamphlets and broadsides, including many lesser-known imprints, hold an unparalleled record of African American history, literature and culture. This digital edition of one of the world’s preeminent collections for African American studies is available as a single complete collection, or in one or more of ten chronological segments, organized by historic era.

From African society to the struggle for justice
This collection spans nearly 400 years, from the early 16th to the early 20th century. Critically important subjects covered include the West’s discovery and exploitation of Africa; the rise of slavery in the New World along with the growth and success of abolitionist movements; the development of racial thought and racism; descriptions of African American life—slave and free—throughout the Americas; and slavery and race in fiction and drama. Also featured are printed works of African American individuals and organizations.

Fresh scholarship on slavery and African American history
The Afro-Americana Collection began to gain international renown for its size, range and significance in the late 1960s as scholars initiated fresh studies of slavery's part in the American story. As researchers rediscovered the importance of the long-neglected writings of African Americans, the Library Company’s collection became increasingly vital to new scholarship. Today it serves as a critical resource for scholars and students, and a plethora of new research and teaching opportunities will arise from its digitization.

The landmark work behind the digital edition
The magisterial bibliography Afro-Americana 1553-1906 was first published in 1973. A second edition published in 2008, including 2,500 works acquired since 1973, now provides the bibliographic control for the Readex edition. Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, is fully integrated into America’s Historical Imprints for seamless searching with Early American Imprints, Series I and II, including Supplements from the Library Company of Philadelphia.

About the Library Company of Philadelphia
The Library Company is an independent research library specializing in American history, society and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution. In 2007, its influential new Program in African American History was created.

Accolades

“The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Afro-Americana collection has long been one of the essential archives for early African American studies.  From broadsides to sermons to pamphlets to narratives, it has been indispensable to every stage of my research.  Now its online iteration, Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922, has become central to how I teach early African American literature and print culture.  The collection’s breadth (generic, linguistic, geographic) and depth has allowed me to introduce students (graduate and undergraduate) and colleagues to the archive of Afro-Americana in ways heretofore impossible.  What once took forays into multiple online sources, microfilm collections, personal archives, and anthologies can now be done through one online interface.  More, the organization by Genre, Subject, Author, History of Printing, Place of Publication, and Language provides multiple vectors for engaging the archive.  The History of Printing category has been especially helpful for giving a sense of just how vast early African American print production was, while the Genre breakdown provides both organization and points of departure for thinking about how we categorize and canonize texts in the field more broadly.  While online interfaces can never replace encounters with material objects, Afro-Americana Imprints and its independently available subset of Black Authors makes getting students excited about archival research much easier.  In that sense, it provides a fantastic gateway to black print culture.”
— Derrick R. Spires, Assistant Professor of English, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“The Library Company’s Afro-Americana Collection is one of the most comprehensive and valuable archives of printed material by and about people of African descent anywhere in the world. From early descriptions of African society and culture to the black struggle for justice in the Americas during the 19th century, it remains a touchstone for scholars and students alike. To have it available online and at your fingertips in a searchable format is a dream come true.”
— Richard Newman, Former Professor of History, Rochester Institute of Technology, and author of Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church and the Black Founding Fathers, and The Transformation of American Abolitionism

“The Afro-Americana Collection at the Library Company is widely recognized as an unparalleled and indispensable resource for scholars of early African-American history and culture. For generations, this rich collection has been available only to those able to work on site in Philadelphia. Today, early African American studies is a global enterprise that includes researchers throughout the United States as well as Europe, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America. This collaboration between the Library Company and Readex will bring new resources into reach and enrich this still expanding field of research and study.”
— Martha S. Jones, Associate Professor, Department of History and Department of Afroamerican & African Studies, and Affiliated Faculty of Law, University of Michigan, and author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture, 1830-1900

“The benefits to scholarship and teaching that will come when the Library Company’s Afro-Americana Collection is made into a digital database are virtually immeasurable. This will be a major step in infusing American history in general with its vitally important African American component. Teachers at all levels will find this a goldmine.”
— Gary Nash, Professor Emeritus and Director, National Center for History in the Schools, University of California, Los Angeles, and author of The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

“The Library Company of Philadelphia’s Afro-Americana Collection is a crucial resource for those who study the history and literature of Africans in America and of slavery. This extensive collection, meticulously documented, expands our access to literary cultures in America before the early 20th century. Having it in digital form—searchable, incorporating the LCP’s metadata, able to cross-reference with the other elements of the Archive of Americana—will be a major benefit to researchers.”
Samuel Otter, Professor and Chair, Department of English, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Philadelphia Stories: America’s Literature of Race and Freedom

MARC Records

Readex offers catalog records in MARC format for every publication in Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia. These MARC records offer the high level of indexing created by the Library Company and found in the full citations of the Readex digital edition.

Library Company of Philadelphia cataloging of Afro-Americana Imprints includes:

  1. Description, which may include the title, statement of responsibility, edition, material specific details, publication information, such as bibliography reference numbers for Afro-Americana Bibliography as well as other important bibliographies such as The Checklist of American Imprints.
  2. Main entry
  3. Subject headings
  4. Added entries following rare books guidelines for capture of bookseller, printer and provenance, where applicable.

Below are two samples of Afro-Americana Imprints MARC records.

For more information on acquiring these MARC Records, contact Readex at 800.762.8182 or sales[at]readex[dot]com.

SAMPLE  1:

=LDR  02334cam  2200373 a 4500
=001  000000637
=005  20090521105329.0
=006  m\\\\\\\\d\\\\\\\\
=007  cr\mn\mmmmaama
=008  880120s1834\\\\ctu\\\\\\\\\\\00\\0\eng\d
=035  9\$a(CStRLIN)PALR88-B145
=035  \\$a3
=040  \\$aMWA$cMWA$dPPL$ebdrb
=090  \\$i06/15/99 X$h10/30/91 X$h05/29/91 R$h02/02/88 CZ
=100  1\$aBaldwin, Ebenezer,$d1790-1837.
=245  10$aObservations on the physical, intellectual, and moral qualities of our colored population$h[electronic resource] :$bWith remarks on the subject of emancipation and colonization / :$cBy Ebenezer Baldwin.
=260  \\$aNew Haven :$bL.H. Young;$fPress of Whitmore & Buckingham,$c1834.
=300  \\$a52 p. ;$c22 cm. (8vo)
=510  4\$aLib. Company. Afro-Americana,$c803
=533  \\$aElectronic reproduction.$bPhiladelphia, Pa.:$cNewsBank, inc.,$d2012.$nAvailable via the World Wide Web.$nAccess restricted to Readex Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia subscribers.
=650  \0$aBlack race.
=650  \0$aAfrican Americans$xColonization$zLiberia.
=650  \0$aSlaves$xEmancipation$zUnited States.
=655  \7$aAnti-slavery literature$zUnited States.$2local
=690  \4$9SP3$aAfro-Americana.
=796  1\$9Printer$aYoung, L. H.,$eprinter.
=796  2\$9Printer$aWhitmore & Buckingham,$eprinter.
=797  1\$9Imprint$aCONN. New Haven.$f1834.
=852  \\$aLibrary Company of Philadelphia$bRare$jAm 1834 Bal 73146.O
=850  \\$a73146.O
=998  \\$a06/15/99$tc$s9114$nPPL$wPALR88B145$d01/20/88$cKN$bJAT$lPALR
=092  \\$aAfro-Americana Imprints From LCP$bno. 803
=856  40$uhttp://docs.newsbank.com/select/AFAMER/803
=992  \\$aNOTICE TO MARC RECORDS USERS: © 2012 Library Company of Philadelphia. All rights reserved. Any use of these MARC records other than for the viewing of a single record at a time by an end user for educational, non-commercial purposes is prohibited without Library Company of Philadelphia's express written permission. The removal or altering of any copyright or other notices within these MARC records or using any portion of these MARC records for purposes of manual, automated or other machine-assisted indexing or classification of other publications is prohibited and may result in civil or criminal penalty.

SAMPLE 2:
=LDR  03216cam  2200493 a 4500
=001  000002462
=005  20070821100720.0
=006  m\\\\\\\\d\\\\\\\\
=007  cr\mn\mmmmaama
=008  890809s1865\\\\pau\\\\\\\\\\\000\0\eng\d
=035  9\$a(CStRLIN)PALR89-B2580
=035  \\$a3
=040  \\$aPPL$cPPL$ebdrb
=090  \\$i06/02/99 X$h08/29/89 R
=245  00$aAt a meeting held at Concert Hall, on Friday evening, the 13th instant, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted$h[electronic resource] :$bResolved ... we are "opposed to the exclusion of respectable persons from our passenger railroad cars on the ground of complexion ..."
=260  \\$a[Philadelphia :$bs.n.,$c1865]
=300  \\$a1 folded sheet ([4] p. (p. [2] & [4] blank)) ;$c26 cm.
=500  \\$aCaption title and beginning of text.
=500  \\$aDated at end: Philadelphia, January 17th, 1865.
=500  \\$aMatthew W. Baldwin, president.
=500  \\$aReport of the committee appointed for the purpose of securing ... (Phila., 1867) also includes these resolutions.
=510  4\$aLib. Company. Afro-Americana,$c806
=533  \\$aElectronic reproduction.$bPhiladelphia, Pa.:$cNewsBank, inc.,$d2012.$nAvailable via the World Wide Web.$nAccess restricted to Readex Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922: From the Library Company of Philadelphia subscribers.
=590  \\$aFormerly part of a McAllister scrapbook.
=650  \0$aAfrican Americans$xCivil rights$zPennsylvania$zPhiladelphia.
=650  \0$aRace discrimination$zPennsylvania$zPhiladelphia.
=650  \0$aStreet-railroads$zPennsylvania$zPhiladelphia.
=690  \4$aRace relations$zPennsylvania$zPhiladelphia.
=690  \4$9SP3$aAfro-Americana.
=700  1\$aBaldwin, Matthias W.$q(Matthias William),$d1795-1866
=710  2\$aCommittee appointed for the purpose of securing to colored people in Philadelphia the right to the use of the street-cars.
=710  2\$aColored People and Street-car Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.)
=796  1\$9Provenance$aMcAllister, John A.$q(John Allister),$d1822-1896,$ecollector.
=797  1\$9Imprint$aPA. Philadelphia.$f1865.
=852  \\$aLibrary Company of Philadelphia$bRare$j*Am 1865 At (2)5786 .F.25b
=850  \\$a(2)5786.F.25b
=950  \\$lR$a*Am 1865 At (2)5786 .F.25b
=955  \\$lR$c1$q(2)5786.F.25b$h08/29/89 C
=999  \\$lLCP$aRare *Am 1865 At (2)5786 .F.25b$c1
=995  \\$a(CPomAG)00002497
=998  \\$a06/02/99$tc$s9114$nPPL$wPALR89B2580$d08/09/89$cJAT$bJAT$lPALR
=092  \\$aAfro-Americana Imprints From LCP$bno. 806
=856  40$uhttp://docs.newsbank.com/select/AFAMER/806
=992  \\$aNOTICE TO MARC RECORDS USERS: © 2012 Library Company of Philadelphia. All rights reserved. Any use of these MARC records other than for the viewing of a single record at a time by an end user for educational, non-commercial purposes is prohibited without Library Company of Philadelphia's express written permission. The removal or altering of any copyright or other notices within these MARC records or using any portion of these MARC records for purposes of manual, automated or other machine-assisted indexing or classification of other publications is prohibited and may result in civil or criminal penalty.

Reviews

Many resources are devoted to African American history and culture, but few offer the archival detail of Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922….a multifaceted file for students and researchers of all types.

“…the new interface…is a significant improvement in terms of usability and function. Clearly labeled "browse by" options are in the middle of the page and include genre, subjects, author, history of printing, place of publication, and language. The purposely large boxes are easy to read, meaning patrons should be able to navigate them with ease.”
— Library Journal (June 1, 2015)

For more information, contact a Readex representative by calling 800.762.8182 or by using our easy contact form.
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