Access to Afro-Americana imprints expanded

Title page for Relation du voyage du Cap-Verd. Par le R.P. Alexis de S. Lo, Capucin, published in Paris in 1637.

The Readex collection known as Afro-Americana Imprints, 1535-1922 contains digitized versions of more than 12,000 books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, broadsides, and graphics from the Library Company of Philadelphia’s African Americana Collection. Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, the Library Company is America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution.

According to the LCP website, this unique collection documents “the western discovery and exploitation of Africa, the rise of slavery in
the new world along with the rise of movements against slavery, the development of racial thought and racism, descriptions of African- American life, slave and free, throughout the Americas, slavery and race in fiction and drama, and the printed works of African American individuals and organizations. The collection ranges in date from the mid-16th century into the early years of the 20th century.”

On Jan. 24, a file of 7,170 records for titles in the collection was loaded into The CAT by the Bibload Working Group, bringing the total number of records loaded to 9,258 to date. A Keywords Anywhere search in The CAT of “afamer” will retrieve the records. Future loads are expected as the collection grows.

The Libraries’ current Strategic Plan places an emphasis on describing and ensuring access to unique collections like Afro-Americana Imprints. Loading records into the catalog thus serves Goal 2 of the plan’s Discovery, Access, and Preservation programmatic area, to “improve access for future generations through stewardship of collections and resources.”

– submitted by Jeff Edmunds, Cataloging and Metadata Services