Phone: (202) 806-7480
The Manuscript Division's resources combine to provide important insight into the growth and development of Black families, organizations, institutions, social and religious consciousness, and the continuing struggle for civil rights and human justice. To view the Manuscript Division's rules and regulations, click here. Its holdings are organized into four departments:
The Manuscript Department provides extensive documentation of African- American life and history. Currently more than 180 collections are available for research. These collections include the correspondence, writings, diaries, photographs, and scrapbooks of notable Blacks, including educators, writers, attorneys, architects, musicians, and scientists. The Manuscript Department has also published a Guide to Resources on Women in the Processed Manuscript Collections of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.
The Music Department's holdings document Black participation in and contributions to the development of jazz, folk, spiritual, popular and classical styles. Its collections are rich in sheet music, songbook albums, and instrumental concert material for voice and piano. The department contains work by more than 400 composers, dating from the 18th century to the present. Among the major composers represented are Will Marion Cook, William L. Dawson, R. Nathaniel Dett, W.C. Handy, and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.
Memoirs of Howard University staff, faculty, and alumni provide documentation concerning the history and development of the University. A program to record the recollections of World War II veterans of the 366th Infantry Regiment and the Tuskegee Airmen who served in segregated units in Italy documents the Black military history of the United States.
A donor's program has been established wherein organizations and individuals that deposit their papers and archives in the Manuscript Department of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center are encouraged to add a recorded and transcribed oral history memoir to their donation. The Ancient Egyptian Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners) and the Black Press have participated in this program.
Research in the Oral History Department is by appointment. To schedule an appointment, call (202) 806-7480.
The department houses the following collections:
The foundation of the Oral History Department is the Ralph J. Bunche. This collection contains more than 700 tapes and television transcripts documenting the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. A collection of Civil Rights Documentation Project Vertical Files is accessible in the Manuscript Department.
On September 1, 1994 the MSRC launched the Voting Rights Act Oral History and Documentation Project. Supported from grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Ford Foundation, the Project will document the impact of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 through oral history interviews and the collection of personal papers and other primary source material.
The project currently focuses on the period between 1965 and 1985. Most of the officials being interviewed are Black men and women from the eight Southern states initially covered by the Act: Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia.
The Project will document the legislative history of the Act. Individuals who worked for or against passage of the bill and its extensions will be interviewed. The resulting oral history interviews will be transcribed. Copies of these interviews will be deposited at the MSRC and at 10 other academic and research institutions, including several historically Black colleges.