Explore Juneteenth History through Library Archives

Did you know libraries and universities have online and in-person archives about Black history in America?

Libraries, colleges, and even television shows offer free information about Juneteenth and Black history.

With Juneteenth rapidly approaching (June 19), it’s a good time to learn more about this holiday dedicated to the ending of slavery in the US and its importance in American history. Once again, libraries to the rescue!

Here are libraries with archives that inform and celebrate Juneteenth, including information about Black libraries. Many of these have online access, with a few offering in-person research opportunities (check ahead to see if you need an appointment).


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Juneteenth University

A great starting point online is Juneteenth University, which contains links and resources for items used to create Juneteenth University’s textbook, Juneteenth 101: Popular Myths and Forgotten Facts. Resources include newspapers and other documents from the 1860s.

Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has extensive holdings related to Juneteenth, many available online. Visitors to the site can sift through historical records, photos, oral histories, the holiday’s legislative history, a collection of signs and images from Juneteenth events and protests, and the manuscript of Ralph Ellison’s originally unpublished second novel, Juneteenth.

William & Mary University

William & Mary University is not only the second-oldest higher learning institution in the US but also a nationally recognized research university. Its library contains extensive digital materials covering myriad aspects of Black history in the US, including the details behind what has become known as Juneteenth.


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Georgetown University

The Georgetown University Library has a wide array of items related to slavery, emancipation, and Black history. Its Rare Book Collection holds many works by Black authors, including the autobiography of Frederick Douglass. The library’s archives has a massive collection of items related to the attendance and later presidency of Patrick F. Healy, S.J., born of a White planter and one of his slaves. Healy became the first Black president of any college in the US.

New York Public Library: Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem has a world-renowned collection focused on all aspects of Black life and history, including Juneteenth. Holdings include books, documents, artwork, manuscripts, photos, and videos.

Fordham University

Related to Juneteenth are the contributions Black library workers have made and continue to make in all aspects of library work, including maintaining invaluable archives. Fordham University has a good overview of the history of Black library workers, including a brief bio of the first professionally trained Black librarian in the US, Edward Christopher Williams.


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Book Riot

That energetic source of all things books, Book Riot, has a brief but thorough history of Black library workers here, including brief bios of thirteen pioneers in the field.

School Library Journal

School Library Journal took a close look at Black school library workers, interviewing several current workers about their experiences and the state of the field.

Good Morning America

Finally, librarian Rodney Freeman is interviewed by Good Morning America with stories of Black librarians battling discrimination and the efforts to ban diverse books.

Whether you already had historical knowledge about Juneteenth or are just beginning to learn, there’s no better place to start than any of these resources–or the library in your backyard.



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