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I believed that next to knowing a people personally, one can know them most through art and especially literary art, where the complexity of human beings is explored at the fullest possible range.
Edward Clark Professor Emeritus of English, Suffolk University
The Collection of African American Literature is a collaborative effort between Suffolk University, the Museum of African American History, and the National Park Service's Boston African American National Historic Site. It was founded in 1971 by Dr. Edward Clark, professor emeritus of English at Suffolk University.
In the late 1960s, in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Professor Clark began gathering books to support Suffolk University courses which he hoped would grow into a collection that would help to promote multi-cultural harmony. The collection aims to gather the complete works of all black American writers from the earliest, in the eighteenth century, to the present, along with related works by writers of all races. A special interest of the collection is black writers associated with New England - those born here or who have studied, lived, or worked here.
By 2013, the collection had grown to almost 6,000 volumes, including the works of over 2730 African American authors. The Collection's strengths are in twentieth century fiction, poetry, literary criticism and studies with a limited amount of non-fiction in history and the social sciences. It contains no genealogical information.
The Collection is housed at the Mildred F. Sawyer Library and is currently directed by Robert Bellinger, Associate Professor of History, College of Arts and Sciences, Suffolk University.
Dictionary Catalog of the Collection of African American Literature in the Mildred F. Sawyer Library of Suffolk University, compiled in 1996 by the Collection's founder, Dr. Edward Clark, may be purchased from the library for $20.00 US. A copy of the Catalog may be found in the Sawyer Library Reference section as well as at the Moakley Law Library.
This catalog includes a master record of individual titles, through 1995, and an introduction detailing the historical background of the collection.
The companion volume, Black Writers in New England: A Bibliography, with Biographical Notes, of Books By and About Afro-American Writers Associated with New England in the Collection of African American Literature, was written by Edward Clark in 1985. It is also available for purchase at $10.00 US.
The Afriterra library is the most complete assembly in North America for original rare maps focused on early Africa. It contains 5,000 original and rare maps, engravings, archive papers, and text and references from rare books. The materials' dates of origin are between 1480 and 1900, and are in seven different languages, including: English. Latin, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian.
The Maio Collection is named in honor of Kathi Maio, the Sawyer Library’s former Assistant Director for Reference Services. Her major field of interest was women’s studies. This collection contains over three hundred items, which can be located in the library catalog.
The Zieman Room is located on the second level of the library. It houses rare materials owned by the library in a temperature controlled space. The rare materials relate primarily to the Zieman Poetry Collection, which contains items such as Suffolk's poetry journal, Salamander. In addition to the poetry collection, rare works include items from the Afriterra collection, and signed works. Items located in the Zieman Room are identified in the library's online catalog. Items from this collection can be examined, but not checked out, during reference desk hours.