Archives & Special Collections


Archives and Special Collections

Once physically displayed in the Library, North America's most complete assembly of original rare maps focusing on early Africa now lives online. The Afriterra Map Collection contains 5,000 original and rare maps, engravings, archive papers, texts, and references from rare books. This collection includes materials written in English, Latin, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian. Collection items originate from the years 1480 to 1900.

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. Browse the collection in the library catalog. 

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 US.

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.

Explore the historical collections of Suffolk University’s Moakley Archive & Institute to learn more about Suffolk’s history through documents, photographs, oral histories, yearbooks, and more. Our special collections document a wide range of topics including school desegregation in Boston, El Salvador’s Civil War, women in the French Resistance, and the life and career of Congressman Joe Moakley (JD '56).

The Archive, located on the 3rd floor of the Sawyer Library, is open to all and free to use. We offer many programs and services including:research assistance, classroom instruction, records management, public events, and exhibitions. Please stop by, contact us, or search and browse our digital collections anytime at

Browse our growing DVD collection online! Discs check out for 7 days with valid student ID card.

The Zieman Room is located on the second level of the library. It houses rare materials owned by the library and related primarily to the Zieman Poetry Collection in a temperature-controlled space. This collection 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.