Protected: Special Collections Relating to People of Color



PPL Special Collections are the result of over 140 years of collecting, but for much of that period the collecting was done by white collectors and librarians for a white audience with white interests in mind. In the cases where material relating to people of color was added to the collection, that material often represented a white (and frequently racist) point of view.

This is an evolving guide to our collections and the material relating to people of color within them. The guide is organized into the following categories:

  • Collections of general interest
  • Materials produced by people of color
  • Materials about people of color

Major Collections of Interest

The Harris Collection on the Civil War & Slavery

The Harris Collection was initially formed in the 1860s by Caleb Fiske Harris,

The Nicholson Whaling Collection


By People of Color


Item Identifier Notes
Early 20th-century Burmese tattoo manuscript Jeff Towns Collection on the History of Tattooing (Collection 105-02) Tattoo art has long been an important part of Burmese culture, and design books in this format, bound in accordion style, are typical in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
19th century Burmese tattoo manuscript on dyed-black paper Collection 101-02
19th-century Burmese Tattoo Manuscript Collection 101-02
Bock Ngar Chy Printing Company type specimen book Contact Special Collections
Logbooks kept by a Black captain, William A. Martin Wh E88 1887L; Wh E88 1887a vol 1; Wh E88 1887a vol 2; Martin was a whaler based out of Martha’s Vineyard. Digital copies of the logbooks are available through the Internet Archive.
Phyllis Wheatley, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (London, 1783) 311 W557p SpecColF Case 1

About People of Color