C-75v. Introduction to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Cheryl Beredo Joy Bivins Michelle Commander Tammi Lawson Shola Lynch Michael Mery

Length: 6 hours
Format: Online

Designed for librarians, archivists, curators, and others with an interest in special collections and exhibitions focused on the global Black experience, this course provides an introduction to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. One of The New York Public Library’s research libraries, the Schomburg Center is an historic institution recognized for its devotion to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Special collections materials are held in the Schomburg Center’s Divisions of Art & Artifacts; Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books; Moving Image & Recorded Sound; Photographs & Prints. Through a series of moderated discussions with Schomburg Center curators, participants will be introduced to the history of the collection, view highlights, and learn about how the center’s collections are built, maintained, and interpreted.

Course History

Cheryl Beredo, Joy Bivins, Michelle Commander, Tammi Lawson, Shola Lynch, and Michael Mery co-teach this course online (6 hours).
This course is not currently being offered. Please do not list on any RBS fellowship or scholarship applications.

Course Resources

  • Advance Reading List
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Related Courses


  • Cheryl Beredo
  • Joy Bivins
  • Michelle Commander
  • Tammi Lawson
  • Shola Lynch
  • Michael Mery

Cheryl Beredo

Cheryl Beredo is Curator of Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library. Before coming to NYPL, she was Director of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives at Cornell University. She has previously held positions at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America and the Massachusetts Historical Society, where she worked on the New England Environmental History Initiative. She has served on numerous boards and advisory groups for a variety of organizations and initiatives, including the American Labor Studies Center, International Association of Labor History Institutes, Triangle Fire Coalition, Association of Research Libraries, Society of American Archivists, and Rare Book School. She holds a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Hawaii and an M.L.I.S. from the University of Pittsburgh, with a concentration in Archival Studies.

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Joy Bivins

Joy Bivins is Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Before joining the Schomburg Center, Bivins served as the chief curator of the International African American Museum in Charleston, South Carolina. She provided content and design oversight for its inaugural exhibitions. Prior to the IAAM, she was the director of Curatorial Affairs at the Chicago History Museum, where she oversaw and managed its team of curators and historians. Bivins began her career as exhibition developer of Chicago History Museum’s Teen Chicago project.

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Michelle Commander

Dr. Michelle D. Commander is associate director and curator of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. After receiving her Ph.D. in American Studies and Ethnicity from the University of Southern California, Commander served as an assistant professor and tenured associate professor in the Department of English and Program in Africana Studies at the University of Tennessee.

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Tammi Lawson

Tammi Lawson manages the artwork and material culture collection at the Schomburg Center, which includes traditional African art, African-American historical artifacts, and artwork from the Harlem Renaissance, the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Lawson also serves as a liaison for researchers, educators, and writers working with the collection and assists Schomburg curators in planning and curating exhibitions. Lawson holds an MLS degree specializing in the preservation of cultural heritage materials, museum collections, and digital curation from Queens College.

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Shola Lynch

Shola Lynch oversees the Schomburg Center’s collections of motion picture films, video recordings, music, and spoken-arts recordings, which document the experiences of people of African descent. She is also an accomplished filmmaker focusing on African American history. Her works include the feature documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners and the Peabody Award-winning documentary Chisholm ’72 – Unbought & Unbossed. Lynch holds an MA in American History and Public History Management from the University of California, Riverside, and an MA in Journalism from Columbia University.

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Michael Mery

Michael Mery is the Acting Curator of the Schomburg Center’s Photographs and Prints Division, which documents the history of the African and African Diaspora experience. He is responsible for the development of the collections; manages the daily operations of the division; and is available for class visits, instruction, and consultations with researchers and scholars. Prior to his current position, Mery was the cataloger for the Photograph and Prints Division, processing and describing 19th and 20th century photography that represents the culture and experiences of persons of African descent. Mery holds a BA in General Art from California State University, Long Beach and an MSLS from Columbia University.

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