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African American Archives

Western Library archived photo

Opened in 1908, the Carnegie-endowed "Western Branch Library,” located at 10th and Chestnut, was the first public library in the nation to provide services to the African American community, led by an entirely African American staff. Many books by African American writers were included in Western’s collection and served as the beginning of the present African American Archives. The Archives contain print and non-print resources, a clippings file, photographs, manuscripts, pamphlets, periodicals, and microforms selected to provide information on culture and life in Black America.

Schedule an archive appointment or a tour of the Western Archives

Here’s a sampling of the unique items in our Archives:

Learn More


Research Databases

The Louisville Free Public Library offers a number of research databases including:

Historical Black Newspapers

Access the Louisville Defender, Chicago Defender and many more historical Black Newspapers in the U.S. These offer essential primary source content and editorial perspectives.

Black Life In America

The experience and impact of African Americans as recorded by the news media, 1704 to today.

Black Freedom Struggle in the US

Contains select primary source documents related to critical people and events in African American history.