Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Moorland-Spingarn Research Center
Preserving the Legacy of the Black Experience
Howard University
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Howard University

Non-Book Collections

The non-book resources in the Library Division include the newspapers, non-Howard theses and dissertations, periodicals and vertical file collection. Each is an important source of information for researchers and should not be overlooked when using the Center. These non-book sources not only contain useful information, but they also provide important leads to other sources.

There is a separate catalog in the Reading Room for newspapers, theses and dissertations, and periodicals. The Reference Librarian can provide updated information about the vertical file listings.

The Newspaper Collection

The African and African American newspaper collection at MSRC is one of the finest in the nation. In addition to a wide variety of titles and unusual depth in coverage, it is significant to note that many newspapers have been microfilmed at the Center’s preservation laboratory under strict specifications which go beyond industry standards. This means that the microfilmed copies are often in better condition than those produced for commercial purchase.

In addition to over 15,000 reels of newspapers on microfilm, the collection contains rare early newspapers from the 18th century as well as more current unbound original copies. They are available both in English and in other languages. Because newspaper indexes are not readily available in the Center, it is advisable to search using specific bibliographic information. African titles and African American titles are listed separately in the non-book catalog, and they include such items as Freedom’s Journal, The North Star, and Frederick Douglass’s Paper.


An extensive collection of periodicals in English and other languages is available in the Library Division. Over 2000 titles comprise the more than 15,000 bound volumes of magazines and journals. Many titles are received on a regular basis, including a large percentage of African periodicals. A separate listing of the African and of the African American periodicals is in the catalog, and the Reference Librarian can provide updates on the holdings. Because indexes are not readily available in the Reading Room, complete bibliographic information is usually necessary for searching.

Theses and Dissertations

The Center has made a special effort to collect theses and dissertations written about Black-related topics, on both microfilm and in hard copy. This collection includes all theses and dissertations produced by students of Howard University, and those theses and dissertations on Black-related subjects which have been produced by students at other colleges and universities around the globe. The processed works in this collection number over 20,000 items.

The Vertical File Collection

The vertical file collection in the Library Division is extensive and constantly expanding. There are more than 25,000 file folders of newspaper and magazine clippings, pamphlets, biographical summaries, booklets, programs, printed images, fliers, and other ephemeral items. The vertical file is divided into biographical and broad subject categories, and is generally the source of the most current printed information. The Reference Librarian can provide information about subject headings and can check for biographical listings.

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