African American Heritage

Black History Guide: Culture

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has many records relating to Black culture and iconic figures. There are videos documenting the work of African American artists, photographs of icons meeting with prominent state officials, and many other records showing the imprint Blacks have left throughout American history.

Choose a records type to begin browsing, and click on the National Archives Identifier (NAID) to go to the full records description in the National Archives Catalog:

Textual | Photographic | Motion Pictures | Electronic

Textual Records

Photographic Materials

Record Group 40 - General Records of the Department of Commerce

Photographs Collected by Emmer Lancaster, Advisor on Negro Affairs, Office of the Secretary, 1940-1953

National Archives Identifier: 513467
Local Identifier: 40-NA
Extent: 1 linear foot, 5 linear inches
This series is arranged by subject, thereunder alphabetically by name of business or individual. Because the original arrangement of the photographs in RG 40-NA has been lost, the Still Picture Branch grouped the images into four broad subject categories. The first category contains images from the conferences on the "Negro in Business". This category also includes images of departmental activities of Secretary Charles Sawyer (1948–1952) and Emmer Lancaster, photographed by Commerce Department photographer E. D. Eaton. The second category includes photographs of various black businesses in operation. The third category consists of images on heads of institutions of higher learning and promotional material from West Virginia State College in Institute, West Virginia and Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The fourth category includes portraits of African American businessmen and women. The photographs in the last three categories appear to have been sent to Lancaster at his request. A substantial proportion of the portraits came from the photo morgue of the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper. Notable persons represented include: actor Paul Robeson, actress Lena Horne, Governor of the Virgin Islands Morris F. DiCastro, Jean H. Brierre, Under Secretary of State for Tourism, Haiti, E. Cris Le Maitre of Trinidad; and West African businessman W. J. Kwesi Mould.

Motion Pictures

Record Group 33 - Records of the Extension Service

International Study of American Roads, 1932

National Archives Identifier: 7364
This film shows Federal government buildings in Washington, D.C.; Mount Vernon and the Mt. Vernon Memorial Highway under construction; maps showing the route followed by the touring international delegates; buses leaving Washington, D.C., and passing through Miami, Florida, and St. Simons Island, Georgia; antebellum mansions in the South; and an African American youth dancing.

Electronic Records