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January 15, 2010 (REVISED January 21, 2010)

New Online Exhibition, Symposium on NAACP Slated at Library of Congress

In commemoration of African American History Month, the Library of Congress on Feb. 3 will launch a new online exhibition about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), an organization which has donated its records to the Library, where they are the most-consulted collection. On Feb. 26, the Library of Congress also will hold a symposium on the NAACP in room LJ119 of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 10 a.m. to noon. The symposium will be free and open to the public.

Joining Dr. James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress, on Feb. 3 to launch the new website at with a ceremony in the Library’s Coolidge Auditorium at 10 a.m. will be NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous; AARP Vice-President, Multicultural Markets Edna Kane-Williams; and invited guests.

The site will feature nearly 70 treasures from the NAACP’s storied history, including the "Call," Oswald Garrison Villard’s manifesto that launched the NAACP; the organization’s constitution and bylaws; photos of such key events as the New York Silent Protest of 1917, the Marian Anderson concert at the Lincoln Memorial in 1939 and Rosa Parks’ 1955 arrest; documents about investigations of lynchings; President Harry Truman’s executive orders barring discrimination in the federal government and military; the Supreme Court decisions on discrimination; the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and background on seminal figures in the NAACP. The online exhibition will expand to eventually feature some 150 items.

"We are proud, at the Library, to make these historic NAACP records available to Congress and the American people," Billington said. "This is both our largest collection, encompassing some 5 million items, and our most widely used collection. It is a stellar example of how access to the primary documents of our history—even our relatively recent history—can be important and deeply moving to researchers and visiting citizens alike.

"The importance of this organization to the lives of African Americans—those alive today and their forebears and descendants—cannot be overstated," Billington said.

Speaking at the symposium "The NAACP: Reflections on the First 100 Years" will be Patricia Sullivan, associate professor of history and African-American studies at the University of South Carolina; Robert L. Zangrando, professor emeritus of history at the University of Akron; and Kenneth W. Mack, professor of law at Harvard University. The symposium will explore both the history of the NAACP, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009, and its future.

Sullivan is the author of "Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement" (The New Press, 2009) and is a fellow at the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University; Zangrando is the author of "The NAACP Crusade Against Lynching, 1909-1950" (Temple University Press, 1980) and "Civil Rights and African Americans: A Documentary History" (1968; reprint, Northwestern University Press, 1991) and Mack is the author of "Representing the Race: Creating the Civil Rights Lawyer, 1920-1955" (Harvard University Press, 2010).

The Library's NAACP online exhibition and symposium both are made possible by the generous support of AARP.

The records of the NAACP are the cornerstone of the Library’s unparalleled resources for the study of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. The records were given to the Library of Congress in 1964 and are periodically augmented. They cover issues and history from the period 1842-2003. Included are manuscripts, prints, photographs, pamphlets, broadsides, audio tapes, phonograph records, films and video recordings. A finding aid for these materials is available on the web at

In addition to the NAACP records, the Library also houses a vast array of materials useful in the study of African Americans’ struggle for equal rights: the original records of organizations including the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the National Urban League, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the microfilmed records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

The Library also holds the personal papers of major figures in black American history, including those of Booker T. Washington, Frederick Douglass, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, Arthur Spingarn, Moorfield Storey, James Forman, Patricia Roberts Harris, Edward W. Brooke, Thurgood Marshall, Robert L. Carter and Joseph Rauh.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on the website

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PR 10-009
ISSN 0731-3527

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