The resources of the Manuscript Division combine to provide important insight into the growth and development of Black families, organizations, institutions, social and religious consciousness, and the continuing struggle for civil rights and human justice. Organized in 1974 into four departments – Manuscripts, Prints and Photographs, Oral History, and Music – the collections of primary source materials of the Manuscript Division complement the resources of the Library Division and broaden the scope of areas for research on the black experience.
With holdings totaling more than 18,000 linear feet, the Manuscript department provides extensive documentation of African American life and history. Currently more than 650 collections are available for research. These collections include the correspondence, photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, writings and memorabilia of such notables as Alain Locke, E. Franklin Frazier, Frederick Douglass, Mary Church Terrell, Anna J. Cooper, and Paul and Eslanda Robeson