Harvard University Establishes the Black Teacher Archive

The Black Teacher Archive is a groundbreaking new digital portal that recently was unveiled at Harvard University. The archive consists of journals and newsletters created by members of Colored Teachers Associations across the country that captured the political and social efforts of Black educators’ activism from the Jim Crow era to the Civil Rights Movement. The old journals and bulletins chronicle the acts of resistance in places like Mississippi, Louisiana, and North Carolina, where Black educators fought against injustice in education under Jim Crow.

Though the archive only contains newsletters and journals right now, the project’s creators said they will expand it to include photographs, proceedings, meeting minutes, correspondence, and even oral history in the interest of capturing dimensions of the movement that are found in other places.

“Hopefully this archive and this evidence about how Black teachers organized will show how the Civil Rights Movement and the Black freedom struggle were only possible because of the labor that Black teachers contributed,” said Harvard professor Jarvis Givens, who founded the project along with Imani Perry, the Morss Professor in Studies of Women, Gender and Sexuality and in African and African American Studies at Harvard.

“It’s putting in one place this reservoir of information that is so deep and wide that Black students, Black educators, people who are interested in women and gender studies, African American studies across the gamut — they can use their own particular lens and interests to review the journals,” said Micha Broadnax, an archivist and librarian at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.

The project is based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in association with the Monroe C. Gutman Library Special Collections and is made possible through the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Spencer Foundation.

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