Negro Society for Historical Research

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The Negro Society for Historical Research was an organization founded by John Edward Bruce and Arthur Alfonso Schomburg in 1911.[1]

Bruce and Schomburg originally met because of their Masonic involvement and began attending a Sunday Men's Club that met in Bruce's apartment.[2] The NSHR, based in Yonkers, New York, aimed to create an institute to support Pan-African--African, West Indian and Afro-American--scholarly efforts.[1] Schomburg stated "We need a collection or list of books written by our own men and women.... We need the historian and philosopher to give us, with trenchant pen, the story of our forefathers and let our soul and body, with phosphorescent light, brighten the chasm that separates us."[2]

The NSHR's constitution listed its purpose "to instruct the race and to inspire love and veneration for its men and women of mark."[3] Membership in the society was limited to twenty active members and they started with a collection of 150 titles. Members endeavored to gather books, pamphlets and other manuscripts by writers of color worldwide. Meetings took place in members' homes and would often involve prominent black speakers.[4] Alain LeRoy Locke spoke at their first annual meeting and became a Corresponding Member for the society which partially sponsored his trip to Egypt in 1924.[4][5] They shared many members and goals with the American Negro Academy and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League.[2]:35[4]:126 The society's collection became a lending library that operated out of Schomburg's apartment, available to members and "anyone else interested in black history."[4]

When the organization disbanded, the collection later became the foundation for NYPL's Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art which became the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.[6][1]


  1. ^ a b c Dodson, Barnett (October 21, 1911). "Select Society for Research". The Lexington Standard (Vol. 17 No. 12). Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Hoffnung-Garskof, Jesse (Fall 2001). "The Migrations of Arturo Schomburg: On Being Antillano, Negro, and Puerto Rican in New York 1891-1938". Journal of American Ethnic History Journal of American Ethnic History. 21 (1): 3–49. JSTOR 27502778.
  3. ^ "Who founded the Negro Society for Historical Research and what was its purpose?". Papertrell. 1911-04-08. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  4. ^ a b c d Sinnette, E.D.V. (1989). Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, Black Bibliophile & Collector: A Biography. African American life series. New York Public Library. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-8143-2157-7. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  5. ^ "... Discussed by Great Scholar". Pittsburgh Courier. January 13, 1912. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Honoring Arturo Schomburg's Afro-Latino Legacy". The New York Public Library. 2016-07-01. Retrieved 2019-01-14.

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