The African American story is central to our nation’s history. Collections documenting the contributions of African Americans in countless fields, along with the struggles and achievements inherent to their stories, can be found in the records of every Smithsonian museum. Help us make these collections more accessible through transcription. Browse projects below and learn more by searching our blog, and by visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
166 Total Pages 48 Contributing Members
Help us transcribe this 1931 edition of HBCU Wiley College’s yearbook, “The Wildcat” and get to know the faculty and students while learning about the types of clubs and organizations they participated in. Among these students was Henrietta Bell Wells, the first female member of the Wiley College debate team and a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Bell Wells made history by participating in the first college debate between white and African American students in 1930. This yearbook belonged to her. The Wiley College debate team defeated some of the top teams in the country and won a national title in 1935.
309 Total Pages 34 Contributing Members
Transcribe “The Girl Graduate – Her Own Book” and help us to learn more about Marjorie P. Collins. Collins assembled this scrapbook commemorating her time at Prairie View College (now Prairie View A&M University) in Prairie View, Texas. In 1925, Collins graduated from Prairie View and was elected to become a teacher at the Almeda Road Junior High School, in Houston, Texas. She also worked closely with the National Council of Negro Women. Beyond those facts, we know very little about Collins. With your help, perhaps we can discover more about Collins within in the 190 pages of newspaper clippings, photographs, hand-written entries, printed programs, ribbons, and correspondence relating to her life.
56 Total Pages 21 Contributing Members
115th Anniversary of the First African Baptist Church and the 8th Anniversary of our Pastor Rev. Y. B. Williams and the Dedicati
The First African Baptist Church, Richmond, was founded in 1841 in Richmond, Virginia. After the Civil War, the church became one of the largest in America. This pamphlet honors the dedication of a new church building and helps to celebrate 115 years of the church’s founding. Learn about the history of one of the oldest African American churches in America by transcribing this anniversary program.
25 Total Pages 0 Contributing Members
During the segregation era, an independent industry dedicated to the production of “race movies” for African American audiences emerged in response to the exclusion of black artists from Hollywood and to counter the negative, stereotypical representations of African Americans in mainstream movies. The Richards Collection features rare items that document this formative period. Larry Richards began collecting around 1986 after receiving a race film poster (The Bull-Dogger) to exhibit in the 4th annual film festival during Black History Month at the Free Library of Philadelphia. His collection of race film memorabilia spans most genres, including musicals, westerns, and horror. Richards’ collection contains over 700 objects covering a period of time from the early age of cinema up through the 1950s. Help us transcribe these race film materials and learn about some of the popular films in this genre.
- Movie Poster for Black Gold
- Movie Poster for Dark Manhattan
- Movie Poster for The Flying Ace
- Movie Poster for Murder on Lenox Ave.
- Movie Poster for One Mile From Heaven
- Lobby card for Cabin in the Sky
- Lobby card for Go Down, Death!
- Lobby card for Imitation of Life
- Lobby card for Lem Hawkins' Confession
- Lobby card for Lost Boundaries
- Advertisement for A Prince of His Race
- Movie Poster for Pinky
3 Total Pages 5 Contributing Members
Imagine launching a campaign to raise $55,000 in 1945, the year that World War II ended. This bold challenge by the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW) exemplifies the highly organized activism of the clubwoman movement. In 1935, educator Mary McLeod Bethune founded the NCNW, building on the legacy of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACW), founded in 1896 to combat lynching. Both united local African American women’s clubs across the U.S. Clubwomen supported African American communities in myriad ways: fighting poverty, providing education, offering child care for working mothers, advocating for civil rights, and striving for international peace. A diverse collection of documents from the 1940s to 1960s awaits transcription, such as event programs, flyers, and tickets; an obituary; a meeting agenda in Spanish; and, a leadership handbook. Learn more about NACW programs that honored abolitionist Frederick Douglass and raised funds to preserve his home in Washington, D.C. and NCNW programs on cultural exchanges with British women after World War II. Look for the integral relationship of church and community; churches often hosted clubwoman events. Notice the presence of music and art, verbally and visually. Discover how African American clubwomen carried out their mission of “lifting as we climb,” and find a message written in the stars. Thank you for helping to make these archival documents searchable!
46 Total Pages 41 Contributing Members
From October 1929 to September 1933, "Abbott’s Monthly" successfully engaged readers with a cosmopolitan feel that featured unknown contemporary authors who addressed African American news while also writing fiction pieces. The publication was founded by Robert Sengstacke Abbott, founder and owner of the already popular "Chicago Defender," the most popular African American newspaper in the country at the time. The first edition of "Abbott's Monthly" sold nearly 50,000 copies and shortly thereafter soared to 100,000. However, the magazine in it's original form ceased publication in 1933 due to the Great Depression, but continued to be publish under a new name "Abbott’s Monthly Illustrated News," until 1934. Help us transcribe this Abbott’s Monthly to explore the culture of the 1930s.
4 Total Pages 3 Contributing Members
Elijah Muhammad was the leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI) for most of the mid-twentieth century. Elijah Muhammad was born Elijah Robert Poole in 1897 in Georgia. After listening to NOI founder Wallace D. Fard speak about Islam and black empowerment, Poole dedicated his life to religion and changed his name to Muhammad. Elijah Muhammad would lead the NOI from 1934-1975 and mentor Muslim leaders such as Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and Muhammad Ali. This work, written circa 1960 by a devoted follower, describes Muhammad in an ethereal manner.
11 Total Pages 23 Contributing Members
Address...Hon. Federick Douglass, delivered in the Congregational Church, on the twenty-first Anniversary of Emanicaption in the District of Columbia
On April 16, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act. The act freed approximately 3,000 slaves and paid slave owners for their release, thus ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Twenty-one years later, on the anniversary of emancipation in D.C., Frederick Douglass delivered a speech at Congregational Church. Transcribe this pamphlet to learn the details of Douglass’ speech and make it searchable for researchers.
2 Total Pages 3 Contributing Members
This advertisement is for a 1947 revival and musical performance at the First Church of the Nazarene in Detroit, Michigan, by the Cleveland Colored Quintet, an all-male singing group based in Cleveland, Ohio.
2 Total Pages 5 Contributing Members
Part of the music domain includes nightlife and nightclubs, which were often the centerpiece of musical life during the first half of the twentieth century. Sisters Laura “Laurie” Cathrell and Sally J. Cathrell Jr. were both involved in New York’s nightlife scene, one as a showgirl and the other as a publisher of magazines featuring famous musicians and dancers of the time. Laurie performed in many famous nightclubs throughout America including Club Plantation and the Cotton Club. She is featured in many of the photographs and magazines of this collection. Sally followed in the footsteps of their parents, and made a career in publishing and created “The Show-Down” magazine, which was devoted to nightclub life and entertainment. In volume 1, number 1, “The Showdown” magazine is described as "a monthly publication, which caters to theatricals exclusively." The magazine featured night club reviews, show reviews, and features on performers. The magazine mainly covered New York, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Kansas City, and St. Louis. Help us transcribe the photographs, magazines, and programs and discover the many famous musicians and dancers featured.