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.
Here’s a sampling of the unique items in our Archives:
- Writings and lectures of Rev. Thomas F. Blue, First African American to head a public library, was a respected leader in the civic, religious, and educational life of the Louisville black community.
- Manuscripts of Joseph Cotter Sr. (Poet, songwriter, educator), Joseph Cotter Jr. (Poet), Rachel D. Harris (Children's Librarian) and more.
- Western Digital Archives - Digitization efforts are ongoing and new content will be added to the collections.
- Vertical file with clippings from African American newspapers and periodicals.
The Louisville Free Public Library offers a number of research databases including:
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.
The experience and impact of African Americans as recorded by the news media, 1704 to today.
Contains select primary source documents related to critical people and events in African American history.