Welcome to the new AAMLO!

AAMLO's new Interim Chief Curator, Susan Anderson, greets the community.

Portrait of boy and girl, Oliver Denny photographer, Sacramento,1867 Royal E. Towns papers 

I started my tenure as Interim Chief Curator at the African American Museum and Library on October 21. It’s been an eventful and productive couple of months. The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is re-dedicating itself to its mission – to preserve and make accessible the history of African Americans in the Bay Area and California. We want people to know that our doors are open. Our research collections are available for researchers of all types from high school students and local residents to worldwide academic scholars. Our museum space invites collaborative exhibits and stimulating programs. The wonderful staff here is knowledgeable and skilled at assisting researchers and partnering with the community. During the hours we’re open, when you travel down 14th Street near Martin Luther King Jr., Way where AAMLO is located, you might notice something new on our front steps – a big, green-and-white sign that says it all – “Welcome. Please Come In."

Portrait of girl sitting in a chair Royal E. Towns papers

After my years as a researcher, curator, poet, and lecturer, I’ve become familiar with nearly every repository that houses significance resources for researching California’s African American past. And we in the Oakland Public Library system should be proud, because there is no institution like AAMLO in the state. AAMLO houses extraordinary resources. We have a special collection of published materials related to African American studies in our reference library, along with an archive of more than 160 collections encompassing family papers, institutional records, periodicals, and artifacts some of which go back to the 19th century. And we are expanding our collection by working with collectors, elders, community members, and historians. The story of California’s longstanding African American presence is still under-researched and little known. But as we steward AAMLO into its revitalized future, that story – or the many stories – that represent such a rich history will be saved and available for all.

Golden State Mutual Life Insurance office, Los Angeles, circa 1930s Roberts Family papers

Second from left, Norman O. Houston, co-founder, Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company. Seated next to Houston is Frederick M. Roberts, the first African American elected to the State Legislature in 1919, and on the right, seated, is George A. Beavers, co-founder, Golden State Mutual.


Hello and Welcome, Susan

Hello and Welcome, Susan Anderson,

I work some hours in the Oakland History Room and am writing to request that the "African American Museum & Library at Oakland Archives Subject Guide" be used to create public catalog records for the many important collections at AAMLO. Such a record would have been helpful when a patron come to the OHR requesting material about Ron Dellums' work in Africa. I remembered that there was a collection of his papers at AAMLO, but don't think my memory should be the basis for this kind of research assistance.

Thanks for considering this,

Dear Martha, Thanks so much

Dear Martha, Thanks so much for your comment.

AAMLO'S collections are easily discoverable through the Online Archive of California,


where our collection finding aids are listed. Our digitized items are also on Calisphere,


To help researchers, students and community members, we will soon be offering basic training in archival research. In the meantime, if a patron ever needs access to AAMLO collections, please refer them to our website where all this information is available, http://www.oaklandlibrary.org/locations/african-american-museum-library-...

Or, please have them call our knowledgeable staff at (510) 637-0200,or email us and we will respond right away, aamlo@oaklandlibrary .org.

Susan Anderson
Interim Chief Curator at AAMLO

I live right across the

I live right across the street from the AAMLO so I think of it often! A few ideas which I think would be great for a collection would be African American comics and graphic novels, and Afro-futurism and science fiction, especially from any Bay Area and California creators. Thanks!

Hello, Ms. Anderson! It is

Hello, Ms. Anderson! It is very nice to read this greeting to the community. I have been a patron of AAMLO for years. It is one of Oakland's hidden jewels. That is the blessing and at the same time, that is the problem. Too many people in the Bay Area don't know that AAMLO even exists. I would suggest that the staff invests in a publicity campaign that truly gets the word out. I would suggest that you make AAMLO the center of the black community by hosting community forums, weekly book events, poetry slams, movie premieres, lectures, etc. You should have a social media outreach to book clubs, faith communities, colleges, writing clubs and black studies groups. I am always disheartened when I walk into AAMLO and see so few people actually studying in this magnificent place which is staffed by the kindest people. I am afraid that one day the city of Oakland will defund AAMLO if more people don't patronage it. I hope that you will consider my suggestions. I hope is that AAMLO will be around 100 years from now. Thank you for your time. I hope to see you on Dr. King Day. I love the movie event that is hosted here each year to honor him.

Dear Eileen Alden, I love

Dear Eileen Alden, I love your idea! We are going to be partnering with Afro-Comicon in 2018. Also, we house the papers of Morrie Turner, the first nationally syndicated African American cartoonist in the U.S., with the "Wee Pals" series, launched in 1965. Morrie Turner was also one of the founders of the East Bay Negro Historical Society, a precursor of AAMLO.

Please stay in touch, and feel free to contact me at sanderson@oaklandlibrary.org


"Welcome Dr. Anderson As a

"Welcome Dr. Anderson
As a long time resident of the East Bay I am glad that African American Museum and Library is open. Love the website it's informative and the pictures are a beautiful example of American American life and living. I hope you enjoy your tenure here. Appreciate what you have done so far. Thank you.

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