Fisk University and Schomburg Center Awarded an NHPRC-Mellon Planning Grant to Plan a Digital Edition of Arturo Alfonso Schomburg’s papers

John Hope and Aurelia Franklin Library front doors

The project entitled “Remaking the World of Arturo Schomburg” lays the foundation for ongoing collaboration between Fisk University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The planning grant will launch a series of digital editions about Schomburg’s writings and correspondence.


Nashville and New York, April 2023 – Fisk University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture have received a two-year $120,000 NHPRC-Mellon Planning Grant for Collaborative Digital Editions in African American, Asian American, Hispanic American, and Native American History and Ethnic Studies. The collaborative grant program between the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has the “overarching goal to broaden participation in the production and publication of historical and scholarly digital editions.”


“Remaking the World of Arturo Schomburg” marks the first partnership between the John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library at Fisk University and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Joy Bivins, Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture states, “The Schomburg Center is proud to partner with Fisk University in this significant project which seeks to make more visible the visionary work of Arturo Schomburg, especially during this moment when the legitimacy of Black and Ethnic Studies is under attack. Schomburg’s work remains critical to our understanding of the contributions of Black scholars, of all kinds, to amend narratives that seek to render people of African descent invisible.” DeLisa Minor Harris, Director of Library Services at Fisk, adds, “we are excited about this important partnership that brings together two of the nation’s leading institutions for Black collections and research. Arturo Schomburg’s innovative work transformed Fisk’s collections, and the project will ensure all generations know and can appreciate the critical legacy and journey of Arturo Schomburg through the digital edition.”


Arturo Schomburg (1874-1938), the African diaspora’s most famous bibliophile, immigrated to New York City from Puerto Rico in 1891. Once settled, he founded the Negro Society for Historical Research, modeled a diasporic approach to studying Black culture, and seeded two iconic archives in the 1920s and 1930s—one at the New York Public Library and the other at Fisk University. These two institutions are partnering for the first time to unite their records on Schomburg and collaborate with scholars to build an edition that will illuminate the global network of early twentieth-century bibliophiles, intellectuals, librarians, and “street scholars” who founded the field of Black history.


DeLisa Minor Harris, Director of the Fisk University John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library, and Barrye Brown, Curator of Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books at the Schomburg Center, will serve as co-directors of the project. Melanie Chambliss, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Rochester (starting Fall 2024), and Laura Helton, Assistant Professor in the English and History departments at the University of Delaware, serve as Scholar-Editors.


A project advisory board of more than a dozen scholars, curators, librarians, and teachers will participate in shaping the work. The project advisors include: Cheryl Beredo, Associate Director of Collections, Research, and Education, Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library, Yale University; Katharine Burnett, Associate Professor and Chair of English, Fisk University; Jim Casey, Assistant Professor of African American Studies, History, and English, Pennsylvania State University; Margarita Castromán Soto, Assistant Professor of English, Rice University; April Collins, AP Computer Science Teacher, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School, Nashville Public Schools; Pero Gaglo Dagbovie, Professor of History, Associate Provost for Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Dean of the Graduate School, Michigan State University; Brent Hayes Edwards, Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University; Jacqueline Goldsby, Professor of English and African American Studies, Yale University; Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, Professor of History, Harvard University; Lopez Matthews, District of Columbia State Archivist and former Digital Production Librarian, Howard University Libraries; Meredith L. McGill, Professor and Chair of English, Rutgers University; Benjamin Talton, Director, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University; Sarah Tanner, Head, Archives Research Center, Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center; Vanessa K. Valdés, Associate Provost for Community Engagement, The City College of New York; Rachel E. Winston, Black Diaspora Archivist, University of Texas at Austin; and Rafia Zafar, Professor of English, Washington University in St. Louis.

In content and concept, “Remaking the World of Arturo Schomburg” reanimates Schomburg’s vision for a network of researchers and repositories committed to preserving Black diasporic thought. As project hubs, Fisk University and the Schomburg Center continue the historic role played by Black special collections in scholarly publishing.



About the National Historical Publications and Records Commission

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States. Learn more at


About The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is the nation’s largest supporter of the arts and humanities. Since 1969, the Foundation has been guided by its core belief that the humanities and arts are essential to human understanding. The Foundation believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom that can be found there. Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. Learn more at


About the Fisk University John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library

The John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library is an active and vibrant part of the University’s diverse academic community. As the academic hub of the university, the library supports the academic programs by providing books, electronic resources, and other materials and information instruction. Fisk’s Special Collections is a major national resource for the study of the African-American experience. Learn more at


About Fisk University

Fisk University is ranked #6 among historically Black universities, according to U.S. News and World Report, and is the oldest institution of higher learning in Nashville, Tennessee. Fisk’s outstanding faculty and students continue to enhance the University’s international reputation for academic excellence. Its scholars continue to make strides in all areas of industry from Social Justice to the sciences. A Fisk education prepares students to become beacons of service in their community and leaders and scholars in their respective fields. Fisk offers more than 20+ undergraduate and graduate programs in Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Clinical Psychology with a bridge Masters to Ph.D. programs through a partnership with Vanderbilt University. Learn more at


About the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the preservation, research, interpretation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diasporan, and African experiences. As a research division of The New York Public Library, the Schomburg Center features diverse programming and collections totaling over 11 million items that illuminate the richness of global black history, arts, and culture. Learn more at


About The New York Public Library

For over 125 years, The New York Public Library has been a free provider of education and information for the people of New York and beyond. With over 90 locations—including research and branch libraries—throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island, the Library offers free materials, computer access, classes, exhibitions, programming and more to everyone from toddlers to scholars, and has seen record numbers of attendance and circulation in recent years. The New York Public Library receives approximately 16 million visits through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at To offer this wide array of free programming, The New York Public Library relies on both public and private funding. Learn more about how to support the Library at


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