Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection


The 351 titles in the collection include sermons on racial pride and political activism; annual reports of charitable, educational, and political organizations; and college catalogs and graduation orations from the Hampton Institute, Morgan College, and Wilberforce University. Also included are biographies, slave narratives, speeches by members of Congress, legal documents, poetry, playbills, dramas, and librettos. Other pamphlets focus on segregation, voting rights, violence against African-Americans, and the colonization of Africa by freed slaves. Several of the pamphlets are illustrated with portraits of the authors.

Researcher LaVerle B. Berry (Library of Congress Federal Research Division) compiled the annotations for the pamphlets included in the catalog for the collection. Berry noted three recurring themes that present themselves throughout the Murray pamphlets.

The first of these themes involves the desire to "uplift" the black race in the United States and to "improve" the status of African Americans. This concern is almost always described in terms of the attainment of social, cultural, and material achievements in order to gain the respect of and equality with whites.

A second theme is encompassed by the struggle for civil rights and equality in the South. This is most often embodied as an appeal to the federal government to defend the constitutional rights of African Americans and protect them from lynchings, executions without trials, and other violence at the hands of southern mobs. At the same time, the necessity for blacks to obey the law is constantly affirmed.

The third theme questions the future of freed American slaves -- should they remain in the U.S. as freedmen or emigrate to the colony of Liberia in Africa? Several pamphlets mention the American Colonization Society and other such groups who supported the repatriation of freed slaves to Africa in an effort to establish and nourish the new colony.

Berry further observed a broad range of opinions expressed in the pamphlets and the tensions between them. Concerning race relations, the pamphlets reveal strong notes of discord between accommodationist points of view and the supporters of a more militant stance. Most pamphlets lean more toward the former than the latter, although there are several militant writers to be found among them.

Also, pamphleteers focus primarily upon the problems of southern African Americans rather than those in the North. While northern blacks are not ignored and the problems facing African Americans are more often discussed in national terms, the overriding concern lies with the attitudes of southern whites toward southern blacks.

Collection History

Daniel A. P. Murray (1852-1925), an employee of the Library of Congress from 1871 to 1923, was charged with the task of gathering books and pamphlets for the Exhibit of Negro Authors at the 1900 Paris Exposition. The volumes he collected formed the nucleus of the Library's Collection of Books by Colored Authors.

In 1926 the Library received a bequest of 1,448 books and pamphlets that Murray had privately assembled. These volumes were added to the Colored Authors' Collection and were later integrated with the general collections of the Library, with many duplicates being transferred to Howard University. Twenty-two volumes of bound pamphlets were transferred to the Rare Books and Special Collections Division; these volumes form the current Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection.

The volumes in the collection are labeled A to G and 12 to 28; it has been assumed that volumes A to 28 represented a continuous set, with the enumeration changing from numbers to letters. An inventory dated January 9, 1974, showed that the volumes that fall between G and 12, as well as volume 27, are missing. The arrangement of the pamphlets within the volumes is not based on chronology or subject; although often a number of works by the same author may appear in a single volume, the arrangement is apparently little more than random.

In 1990 the Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection underwent phased conservation treatment. The volumes were disbound; the pages were deacidified and buffered, mended and guarded; and, where needed, the individual pages of each pamphlet were encapsulated. The individual pamphlets are now stored in acid-free boxes, the order of which corresponds to that of the original volumes.

There are now 386 pieces in the collection; all except the thirty-five duplicate titles have been digitized.

African American Perspectives