Schomburg, Arthur Alfonso, 1874-1938

Alternative names
Birth 1874-01-24
Death 1938-06-08

Biographical notes:

Bibliophile, writer, Schomburg was curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and History from 1932-1938.

From the description of Arthur Alfonso Schomburg papers, 1724-1938 (bulk 1904-1938) (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122485276

Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, a writer and researcher, collector and curator of books and manuscripts pertaining to black history and culture.

From the description of Arthur Alfonso Schomburg collection, 1920-1938, 1985-1993. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 79459201

1874, January 24Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to Carlos Federico Schomburg and Mary Joseph. 1891, April 17Arrived in New York City. 1892Became a Mason and joined the El Sol de Cuba Lodge #38, a Spanish-speaking lodge in New York. 1892-1896Helped found and served as secretary to Las Dos Antillas, a political club committed to the goal of Cuban and Puerto Rican independence. 1895Married Elizabeth Hatcher (d.1900) from Staunton, Virginia.They had three children: Maximo Gomez, Arturo Alfonso Jr. and Kingsley Guarionex. 1901-1906Employed as messenger and clerk in the law firm of Pryor, Mellis and Harris, New York City. 1902Married his second wife, Elizabeth Morrow Taylor from Virginia. They had two children: Reginald Stanfield and Nathaniel Jose. 1904Published his first known article, Is Hayti Decadent? in The Unique Advertiser. 1906-1929Employed by the Bankers Trust Company, eventually becoming supervisor of the Caribbean and Latin American Mail Section. 1909Wrote a short pamphlet, Placido, a Cuban Martyr, about the poet and independence fighter, Gabriel de la Concepcion Valdez. 1911Helped organize and served as secretary of the Negro Society for Historical Research. 1914Married for the third and last time to Elizabeth Green. They had three children: Fernando Alfonso, Dolores Maria and Carlos Placido. 1918Elected Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge. 1920-1929Elected President of the American Negro Academy. 1925Wrote The Negro Digs Up His Past. 1926The New York Public Library purchased Schomburg's collection of books, manuscripts, and prints with a $10,000 grant from the Carnegie Foundation. The collection was deposited at the 135th Street Branch of The Library. 1926Traveled to Spain, France, Germany and England with funds from the sale of his collection. 1927Awarded the William E. Harmon Award, consisting of a Bronze Medal and $100, for outstanding work in the field of Education. 1931-1932Served as Curator of the Negro Collection at the library of Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee. 1932Traveled to Cuba where he met Black Cuban artists and writers, and acquired material for the collection. 1932-1938Served as Curator of the Schomburg Collection of Negro Literature and Art, 135th Street Branch, The New York Public Library. 1938, June 8Died, while serving as Curator of the Collection he both envisioned and spent his life creating.

For fuller biographical treatments of Arthur Schomburg's life, see:

Arthur A. Schomburg: A Biographical Essay by Victoria Ortiz in The Legacy of Arthur A. Schomburg: A Celebration of the Past, A Vision for the Future

Exhibition catalog. (New York: The New York Public Library, 1986).

Sinnette, Elinor Des Verney. Arthur Alfonso Schomburg: Black Bibliophile & Collector (The New York Public Library & Wayne State University Press, 1989).

From the guide to the Arthur Alfonso Schomburg papers, 1724-1938, 1904-1938, (The New York Public Library. Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division.)

Arthur Alfonso Schomburg, black bibliophile, devoted his life to disproving the myths of black racial inferiority and affirming African peoples' role in the making of world civilization. The New York Public Library's Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is named for him.

Ira Frederick Aldridge (1807-1867) was one of the most important black actors of the 19th century. He toured for over forty years throughout England as well as in France, Russia, Sweden, Czechoslavakia, Turkey, Germany and Austria playing roles from slaves to Othello.

From the guide to the List showing the theatres and plays in various European cities where Ira Aldridge, the African Roscius acted during the years 1824-1867/ compiled by Arthur A. Schomburg, 193?, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)


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  • African Americans and libraries
  • African American authors
  • American literature--African American authors
  • Puerto Ricans--Biography
  • Librarians--Biography
  • Associations, institutions, etc--African American membership
  • African Americans and libraries--New York (State)--New York
  • Young Men's Christian associations--United States
  • Young Men's Christian associations
  • African Americans--Societies, etc
  • African American arts
  • African Americans--History
  • Public libraries
  • Historians--Biography
  • Public libraries--New York (State)--New York
  • Book collectors--Biography
  • Book collectors
  • African American librarians
  • Actors, Black
  • Black author


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  • New York (State)--New York (as recorded)
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  • Latin America (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Spain (as recorded)