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The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection

Stories from the Underground Railroad to Paul Robeson


The Experience

Gothic-revival Sullivan Hall houses a collection that has become a destination for African-American scholars. Pause before entering the reading room and see a modest but impressive exhibition selected from the collections. Inside, researchers have access to more than 30,000 items on the black experience: books, manuscripts, sheet music, pamphlets, journals, newspapers, broadsides, posters, and photographs.

Among the rare published works in the collection are first editions by Phyllis Wheatly, W.E.B. DuBois, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar, among others. There are more than 500,000 photographs by John Mosely, the 20th-century photographer of entertainers, Negro Baseball League players, the Penn Relays, leaders and life of Pennsylvania.


From his early childhood in nearby Norristown, Charles L. Blockson accumulated a stellar collection of rare materials documenting the story of African-Americans. Thirty years ago, this historian and author donated the core of his collection to Temple University. Blockson continues to serve as its curator and advocate. The collection thrives as a research facility for visitors from high school students to advanced scholars.


12th and Berks Mall Philadelphia, PA 19122
(215) 204-6632

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