About the Project
The University Archives is undertaking a long-term effort to collect and preserve the Black experience at Penn State. Despite many decades of effort by the University, progress toward equity at Penn State remains elusive in many ways. Similarly, Penn State’s historical record as told by the University Archives is also not an equitable one. Students, scholars, and researchers may encounter some historical accounts, such as Black student activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but those are often just bits and pieces of richer, more nuanced stories. University Archives collections that reflect the experiences of student groups, faculty, staff, and alumni – especially from more recent decades – are sparse. We now seek to collect and share a broader representation of stories from those who experienced the events—large or small in size, political or social in nature, academic or athletic.
Tell Us Your Story
This project especially invites original documents from students, alumni, and other Penn Staters who have been involved with a student organization (e.g. Black Caucus), a historically Black Greek letter organization, the Paul Robeson Cultural Center, or participated in an event or action centered on Black student interests. Documents can be photographic images of people, places, and events at Penn State University, or materials you have kept from events, initiatives, or student groups you were a part of while at Penn State. For more recent alumni, photos and other documents may be digital, taken from your phone or computer. Other examples of historical documents include flyers, letters, announcements, and video recordings. We also welcome the opportunity to conduct oral histories (which can be done in person or over Zoom).
Black History Resources in the Special Collections Library
- Black History and Visual Culture Digital Collection: the Black History and Visual Culture Digital Collection consists of compelling visual materials that celebrate and remember Black life on Penn State’s campuses, in the broader United States, and around the world. Posters, poems, and other visual materials have been digitized in an ongoing effort to expand holdings of published and primary source materials related to a diversity of Black experiences.
- University History: The Black Experience at Penn State Research Guide: The purpose of this guide is to create a broader understanding of the history of Black student life, faculty, staff, and alumni at Penn State University, through resources and collections available in the Penn State University Archives.
- Penn State Black Alumni Oral History Project: Founded and led by Maia Hill (Penn State, 2020), the Black Alumni Oral History Project documents the experiences of 13 Black alumni who attended Penn State between 1969-1971. A short film about the project entitled The Struggle Continues and produced by students from the Penn State CommAgency can be viewed on the Introduction to the Project page.
- Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora: This multidisciplinary collection includes books, magazines, photographs, manuscripts, sheet music, postcards, record albums, and artifacts of the African experience in the United States, Latin America, Caribbean, and Africa, dating from 1632 to the present.