Saving the Race: Black Archives, Black Liberation, and the Shaping of African American History

1:00 P.M. – 2:15 P.M.
Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Hodge Hall, Kelley School of Business, room 2083
1309 E. 10th St., Bloomington, IN 47405

This lecture is part of the IU Black Film Center/Archive's Lecture series "Before Representation: Examining Visual Technologies of Race, Media, and Meaning." It is presented here in conjunction with the fall exhibition Out of Easy Reach at IU's Grunwald Gallery

Dr. Melanie Chambliss, Assistant Professor in the Humanities, History, and Social Sciences department at Columbia College Chicago, explores the founding and impact of early twentieth-century black archives. Because of these sites’ wide use amongst scholars, writers, students, artists, and community members, Dr. Chambliss argues that black archives helped to define what African American history was and what it would become as a subject in mainstream culture and a field in academia. Her project emphasizes the work of trained librarians like Dorothy Porter, Ernestine Rose, and Vivian Harsh who enabled the public’s use of such collections. Their contributions helped to further the popularizing of this subject and field alongside the efforts of historians like Carter G. Woodson and Charles Wesley. However, by viewing the story of African American history’s development from the other side of the librarian’s desk, Dr. Chambliss’s work reveals the personal, political, and professional concerns that shaped twentieth-century black historical consciousness.