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Dodson became chief of the Schomburg in 1984. Under his direction, the Center’s

holdings doubled to 10 million. Acquisitions included the collections of Malcolm X,

Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou. Publishing projects Dodson spearheaded

have included numerous microform editions of collections of original documents,

a six-volume encyclopedia of African American history and culture, and

a 30-volume collection of writings by African-American women



Howard Dodson, Jr. Named Director

of Moorland-Spingarn and Howard University Libraries
Scholar Noted for Raising the Profile of Harlem’s Schomburg Center


Howard Dodson Jr., a national leader in the movement to preserve African-American history, has been named the new director of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and director of the Howard University Library System.  Dodson retired last year from his position as director of Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture after 27 years of service.

"Dodson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise as the new leader of Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and University Libraries," said Howard University President Sidney Ribeau. "He will be instrumental as we execute our research agenda and preserve our cultural treasures."  

The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is recognized as one of the world's largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. As one of Howard University's major research facilities, the MSRC collects, preserves, and makes available for research a wide range of resources chronicling the Black experience.

“We have too few centers that are documenting the global Black experience. Moorland has been one of the most important ones for nearly 100 years,” Dodson said.

Its collections include more than 175,000 bound volumes and tens of thousands of journals, periodicals, and newspapers; more than 17,000 feet of manuscript and archival collections; nearly 1000 audio tapes; hundreds of artifacts; 100,000 prints, photographs, maps, and other graphic items. The collections are used by scholars, museums, students, and other researchers from Howard University and throughout the world. Information provided by the MSRC is regularly used in exhibitions, video productions, news programming, and a wide range of publications.Dodson’s immediate priorities at Howard University include increasing Moorland’s hours: providing twenty-four hour service in Founders Library, and enhancing the interior environments of both. He also plans to expand access to collections and make the libraries more active partners in student learning and university research. Finally, he plans to revitalize and upgrade the University’s library system, the newest member of the Washington Research Library Consortium.

Dodson is credited with extending the reach and reputation of the Schomburg Center through major exhibitions and acquisitions. Today, the Center is recognized as one of the leading institutions of its kind in the world.

Dodson became chief of the Schomburg in 1984. Under his direction, the Center’s holdings doubled to 10 million. Acquisitions included the collections of Malcolm X, Lorraine Hansberry and Maya Angelou. Publishing projects Dodson spearheaded have included numerous microform editions of collections of original documents, a six-volume encyclopedia of African American history and culture, and a 30-volume collection of writings by African-American women.

Under Dodson’s stewardship, the Schomburg Center has been an innovator in using the Internet to increase access to library materials. He enhanced the quality of the Schomburg Center’s exhibitions, public programs, and special events. Attendance tripled to 120,000 people per year.

Dodson was born in Chester, Penn., in 1939. He graduated from West Chester State College in 1961 with a degree in social studies and secondary education and in 1964 received a master’s degree in history and political science from Villanova University. Dodson joined the Peace Corps in 1964, serving for two years in Ecuador and later as a national Peace Corps staff member. He then entered a doctoral program at the University of California, Berkeley where he focused on the comparative history of slavery in the Western Hemisphere.

Through the years, Dodson has lectured widely on various topics nationally and internationally. His books include Becoming American: The Africa-American Journey; In Motion: the African-American Migration Experience; Jubilee: the Emergence of African-American Culture; and The Black New Yorkers: The Schomburg Illustrated Chronology.

In recognition of his contribution to the development of the Schomburg Center, Dodson has been awarded honorary doctorates by Villanova University (2007), the City University of New York (2004), West Chester State University (2004), Adelphi University (2004) and Widener University (1987). In 2010, Dodson was designated a New York City “Living Landmark” by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Brief History of Howard

Howard University is a private research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Founded in 1867, students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. Since 1998, the University has produced two Rhodes Scholars, two Truman Scholars, a Marshall Scholar, 24 Fulbright Scholars and 11 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States. For more information on Howard University, call 202-238-2330, or visit the University’s Web site

Source: Howard

posted 28 February 2012

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Restoring a Trove at Howard—Felicia R. Lee—14 March 2012—“Antiquated.” “Depleted.” “Grossly underfunded.” Those were just a few of the harsh words Howard Dodson, the recently retired chief of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York, used to describe Howard University’s library system in a December 2011 consultant’s report. Administrative inattention, draconian budget cuts and leadership gaps had also tarnished a jewel at this elite, historically black university: the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, one of the world’s largest collections devoted to the history and culture of people of African descent. . . .

Mr. Dodson said that for Moorland and the main library group Howard’s financing lags badly compared with the other members of the Association of Research Libraries, a group that also includes well-endowed Ivy League institutions. The median investment in members’ libraries was $22 million in 2009-10; Howard’s investment was $8.3 million, 1 percent of its overall budget. Sidney A. Ribeau, the president of the university since 2008, conceded that there had been “a kind of drift,” over the years. “There was not the kind of focused attention one would have liked,” he said.

In 2010, as students, faculty members and alumni sounded an alarm over Moorland’s state, the university hosted a  conference with archivists, scholars and librarians from around the country to focus attention on the center. A report with recommendations  to address the problems followed.

Moorland’s problems have been “symptomatic of the struggle of the university” to do much with limited resources, said Greg E. Carr, a conference co-chairman and an associate professor of Africana Studies.

Mr. Ribeau said the university’s fiscal woes of the past several years have caused widespread pain, with major deferred maintenance and a big hit to the endowment. But he and the trustees have a goal to increase university financing of the library to 3 percent of the operating budget in the next three to five years, Mr. Ribeau said.

Joseph Reidy, an associate provost, said the administration pursued Mr. Dodson, who was widely praised for his acquisitions and fund-raising prowess during his tenure at the Schomburg from 1984 to 2011, because it felt that Howard’s libraries could be restored to their former status.

But even with the promised increases the task will be difficult. In his report Mr. Dodson said it will easily take $20 million of university and other kinds of support “just to start” to fix Howard’s problems. His goals include digitizing the collection, more than doubling the professional library staff and reorganizing and upgrading the facilities.NYTimes

posted 16 March 2012

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One cannot have great facilities like libraries and archives without having staff, which could include graduate students and other part-time staff. One has to have fundraising beyond the university's general budget. But one has to have a general budget that is committed to the university having a great library and archives, whatever may be raised outside the university just for library projects or just for archival programs.

One has to have the space for processing documents, programs for repair and digitization. Although it make take  two or three years to get the ball rolling, putting the right persons in place and on the job, Dodson will need to develop a plan and secure a commitment a decade beyond that to sustain the libraries and the archives.
Can Dodson do it? I am sure he can. But it ain't going to be easy. Initially, he's going to have to have three or four core staff people to start the ball to roll forward, and then acquire along the way at least a dozen or more full-time persons to get the work done.
It is one thing to have the white folks of the New York Public Library behind you, it is another thing to have Sidney Ribeau and his administration on your team. They are the ones who have been running a starved budget and cutting staff for the last two years or more. I am sure Battle, the former head, is not all together to fault for the problems and the present state of the libraries and the archives. These are not problems of two or three years but of three or four decades.
Those cats plan to dump the weight on Dodson. I would not be surprised if Dodson resigns after a couple of years. I have no confidence in black administrators at HBCUs. I just hope Dodson knows the uphill-situation he has gotten himself into.—

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Jubilee: The Emergence of African-American Culture

By Howard Dodson

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.  

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In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience

By  Howard Dodson

Always on the move, resourceful, and creative, men and women of African origin have been risk-takers in an exploitative and hostile environment. Their survival skills, efficient networks, and dynamic culture have enabled them to thrive and spread, and to be at the very core of the settling and development of the Americas. Their migrations have changed not only their world, and the fabric of the African Diaspora but also their nation and the Western Hemisphere.
Between 1492 and 1776, an estimated 6.5 million people migrated to the Americas. More than 5 out of 6 were Africans. The major colonial labor force, they laid the economic and cultural foundations of the continents. Their migrations continued during and after slavery. In the United States alone, 6.5 million African Americans left the South for northern and western cities between 1916 and 1970. With this internal Great Migration, the most massive in the history of the country, African Americans stopped being a southern, rural community to become a national, urban population.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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