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ProQuest Completes Digitisation of NAACP Papers

ProQuest, an information firm central to global research, has completed digitising the archives of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), making one of the most famous chronicles of the civil rights movement accessible.

Cambridge, UK  ()


Nearly 2 million pages of internal memos, legal briefings and direct action summaries from the association's national, legal and branch offices throughout the United States are now fully searchable and accessible through academic, research and public library websites as part of ProQuest® History Vault, an initiative to digitize historically rich primary sources, opening their discovery to broader audiences. 

"These records are essential for study of the one of most important movements in 20th-century America," said Susan Bokern, ProQuest Vice-President, Information Solutions. "We're honored that the NAACP chose ProQuest as its partner and delighted that we could complete the digitisation ahead of schedule, opening this archive for research."

The NAACP Papers deliver a first-hand view into the association's work on crucial issues: lynching, school desegregation, and discrimination in the military, the criminal justice system, employment, and housing, among others. National office documents provide insight into NAACP's leaders and their relationships with the U.S. Congress, with presidents from Taft to Nixon, and with other civil rights organisations. They also include the full range of "direct action" tactics taken in the 1960s, revealing a first hand look at the important roles grassroots leaders and women played in the civil rights movement. Documents from local NAACP branches give additional depth and insight into personalities active at the neighborhood level and provide an intimate look at social conditions in communities from all regions of the U.S.

With a timeline that spans 1909 to 1972, users can examine the realities of segregation in the early 20th century, chart victories such as the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, then explore the late 1960s and 1970s as the Black Power Movement, urban riots, and the Vietnam War provided challenges for the NAACP. Legal files in the collection chart the organisation's spectacular legal successes from the 1910s through the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision and into the early 1970s.

As part of ProQuest History Vault, the NAACP Papers are available for remote study and supported by rich, intuitive search technology. Original archival arrangement schemes are retained. Combined with crisp PDFs of the original documents, the user experience of browsing through archive boxes is replicated for a unique research experience.

Users can explore other varied, important perspectives on the civil rights movement through History Vault's collection The Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century, which includes digitised documents from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. The collection is expanding in 2014 to include papers from the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. ProQuest's research resources also include Historical Black Newspapers, an archive of digitised African-American newspapers, and Black Studies Center, a digital core collection of primary and secondary sources that record and illuminate the Black experience, from ancient Africa through modern times.

ProQuest is world renowned for its digitisation of both iconic and unique historical works, from the archives of such major research institutions as the Bodleian, Huntington and British Libraries -- which brought the early English world online -- to the entire runs of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian and dozens of others, creating a mammoth digital news archive that dates from the mid 1700s. Its digitisation process is renowned for its crisp images and deep indexing of the contents of each page, yielding a remarkable level of precision and accuracy to support serious research. 

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About ProQuest (

ProQuest connects people with vetted, reliable information. Key to serious research, the company's products are a gateway to the world's knowledge including dissertations, governmental and cultural archives, news, historical collections and ebooks. ProQuest technologies serve users across the critical points in research, helping them discover, access, share, create and manage information.

The company's cloud-based technologies offer flexible solutions for librarians, students and researchers through the ProQuest®, Bowker®, Dialog®, Serials Solutions®, ebrary® and EBL® businesses - and notable research tools such as the Summon® discovery service, the ProQuest FlowTM collaboration platform, the PivotTM research development tool and the IntotaTM library services platform. The company is headquartered in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with offices around the world.



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