Please check out Umbra: Search African American History, now available online.


In partnership with Penumbra Theatre Company, the Givens Collection of African American Literature and Performing Arts Archives is developing a shareable online search tool that brings together archival content documenting over 400 years of African American cultural history from across the country, with a focus on African American theater and performing arts. The two-year project is generously funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

The materials are gathered and presented digitally through a search box that can live on any website are not just books, articles, or archival finding aids. They are video and playbills from Penumbra Theatre, letters by writer Langston Hughes to photographer Carl Van Vechten, photographs of a traveling African American theater troupe in 1910 Mississippi , original scripts and set designs by Zora Neale Hurston, newsreel film footage of Dr. Martin Luther King speaking at the Lincoln Memorial in May, 1957, and much, much more.

Project Documents




This project is supported by grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services or the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.