The Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University is a massive collection of over 700,000 items relating to Black history. We’re talking about everything from books (lots of books) to art to letters written by William Still himself.
Charles L. Blockson is the creator of the collection. He is a Norristown native and when he was a child, one of his teachers told him that African-Americans had no history. Charles has spent the rest of his life proving this teacher wrong. He started collecting at the age of 9 whenever he would get an allowance or any spare change.
Blockson decided to house his collection at Temple University not only because the university focuses strongly on diversity, but also because it is located in a predominantly African-American area. Blockson wanted his collection to be available to everyone in the university as well as everyone in the surrounding community.
Blockson had a personal connection with Harriet Tubman’s niece. Due to this connection, the Blockson Collection had the honor of housing some of Tubman’s personal items for a short period of time. We spoke with Dr. Diane Turner about what those items meant to her.
By: Holly Huepfel