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Schomburg Center Named National Historic Landmark

By Dartunorro Clark | January 11, 2017 3:56pm
 The center is among 24 places also named landmarks by the Interior Department. 
The center is among 24 places also named landmarks by the Interior Department. 
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NYPL

HARLEM — The Schomburg Center was designated a National Historic Landmark Wednesday.

The Harlem research library — named after Arturo Schomburg who started the collection in the 1920s and later sold it to the library —  was among 24 places the Interior Department gave the designation Wednesday.

The center, located at 515 Malcolm X Blvd., “represents the idea of the African Diaspora, a revolutionizing model for studying the history and culture of people of African descent that used a global, transnational perspective,” the department said in a statement.

“The idea and the person who promoted it, Arthur (Arturo) Alfonso Schomburg… an Afro-Latino immigrant and self-taught bibliophile, reflect the multicultural experience of America and the ideals that all Americans should have intellectual freedom and social equality.”

Roughly 2,500 places across the country hold the designation, which recognizes places that “depict a broad range of America’s rich, complex history” and “possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States,” according to the interior department’s website.

Other designees include the homes of civil rights activists Myrlie and Medgar Evers in Mississippi and the site of the 1970 Kent State University shootings in Ohio, the department announced.

The Schomburg Center is internationally recognized for its collection, which includes more than 10 million items that people are free to browse through including photographs, transcriptsrare books and moving images.

It includes the world’s largest collection of “Green Books,” which were annual guidebooks for African American travelers during the Jim Crow era.

Scholars, students and artists have discovered hidden gems in its extensive collection since 1925.

The center's director, Kevin Young, praised the designation in a statement. 

“We are delighted at this recognition of Arturo Schomburg’s vision to have the world of black culture, and black culture the world over, preserved and made accessible for study and thoughtful contemplation," he said.

"This honor will ensure future generations' awareness of and access to the Schomburg and its many treasures for centuries to come.”