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Penn State University Libraries



Special Collections Library
104 Paterno Library
University Park, PA 16802

Telephone: (814) 865-7931
Fax: (814) 863-5318

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Charles L. Blockson Collection of African-Americana and the African Diaspora

Collage of album covers from the Blockson Collection



More information about the collection and the donor, Charles L. Blockson, can be downloaded in PDF format.

This multidisciplinary collection includes books, magazines, photographs, manuscripts, sheet music, postcards, record albums, and artifacts of the African experience in the United States, Latin America, Caribbean, and Africa, dating from 1632 to the present.

Areas of research in the Blockson Collection include, but are certainly not limited to, the following highlights:

  • Africa
  • The African Diaspora
  • Autobiographies and Memoirs
  • Children and young adults' literature
  • Civil Rights and Black Power
  • Discovery, exploration and travel narratives
  • Photography
  • Poetry
  • Postcards
  • Religion
  • Sheet music
  • Slavery
  • Sports
  • Women's Literature
  • Josephine Baker Collection
  • Paul Robeson Collection
  • Sculpture Collection


Blockson Collection Room

3rd floor West Pattee
Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 2:00pm to 4:00pm
And by appointment

Materials in the collection may not circulate; access is available only in the Blockson Room or in the Special Collections Library, 104 Paterno Library.


How to search the Blockson Collection

Researchers may search the growing holdings of the collection by starting at the Libraries home page, clicking on the CAT, and selecting “Advanced Search.” There are three ways to search for topics:

Choose the “Keyword Search” and type in a keyword and “Blockson.” For instance, “Civil Rights and Blockson” or “Africa and Blockson;” or

Choose a keyword option (author, title, subject, etc.) and then, from the dropdown menu “In Library,” choose “Special Collections Library;” or

Click on "Advanced Search" and select “Special Collections” in the “In Library” box, choose “Rare Books & Mss, Blockson Collection” or “Blockson Collection Vault” in the "Location" box, and type your keyword search terms. [Clicking the “Search” button with no search terms will bring up a complete list of the Blockson Collection holdings as unsorted titles.]