Online Access To Resources For African American Studies
The Marquette University Librariesí Department of Special Collections and University Archives recently completed a major online project, which improves access for a large archival collection documenting historic Catholic Church relationships with African Americans and Native Americans.
Descriptive inventories for the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions (BCIM) records have been mounted on the Marquette University Librariesí Web site, which also include the records of the Commission for the Catholic Missions Among the Colored People and the Indians (established 1884). The records, dating from 1839, document Catholic relationships and missions among African Americans and Native Americans. The collection contains over 501 cubic feet of documents, 25,000 photographic prints, and 419 reels of microfilm on topics including human rights advocacy, cultural change, community welfare, and mission and school finances for African Americans as well as Native Americans. Over 22,000 correspondents are found in the collection, including high-ranking church leaders and missionaries and their supporters, from Europe, the Caribbean, and Canada as well as the United States.
According to department head Matt Blessing, the new online inventories are "a gold mine" to researchers for borrowing materials via interlibrary loan and planning on-site visits. Previously these records provided crucial data for The History of Black Catholics in the United State, a groundbreaking study of African American Catholics by Rev. Cyprian Davis, O.S.B. in 1990. The BCIM project is part of the departmentís on-going effort to put all of its collection inventories online. Descriptive narratives to augment the inventories will follow later.
Marquette University Libraries
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