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Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection: Home

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Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection


The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection is one of the leading research centers in the nation for the study of African American history and culture.  It also houses materials pertaining to the Black experience around the globe. Charles L. Blockson, a historian, bibliophile and author, donated the core collection to Temple University in 1984. Located in Sullivan Hall on the Main Campus of Temple University, this Collection houses over seven hundred thousand items in all formats, including rare and contemporary books, archives and manuscripts, periodicals, newspapers, photographs, broadsides, posters, sheet music pieces, and maps.

Researchers will find rare works such as, Leo Africanus’ A geographical historie of Africa (1600), Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral (1773), Olaudah Equiano's The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavus Vassa, the African (1789), David Walker’s Walker’s appeal (1830), Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass: an American slave (1845), W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Philadelphia Negro: a social study(1899)and many other important publications.

The largest among the Blockson photographic holdings, the John Moseley Photographic Collection contains over 300,000 prints and negatives, which visually document the history of African Americans, mainly in Philadelphia, from the 1930s through the 1960s.

The Blockson Collection contains the papers and records of individuals, families, and organizations, primarily from the Philadelphia area.  Among these archival treasures are the papers of William Still, an African American abolitionist and conductor on the Underground Railroad.

Most of the titles are in English and others are in languages of areas in the world with sizeable black populations, including Africa and various parts of the Caribbean and South America. Information contained in fliers, newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets and ephemera is available in the Blockson Clipping File. Books and other materials owned by Blockson Afro-American Collection are included in Library Search, Temple University Libraries' catalog. One can search by author, title, keyword, or subject and then select Blockson Collection before clicking the submit button. Temple University Libraries Digital Collections offer access to the primary historical and cultural resources of Temple University Libraries, including the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection.

A permanent rotating exhibition that changes themes periodically is on display upon entering the Collection. The exhibit is displayed in the foyer of the reading room. Other exhibit items are located within the reading room, along the wall.

Please contact us for more information on our materials, public programs, and the services we provide.

Blockson Collection Librarian


1330 Polett Walk, Room 7
Philadelphia, PA 19122