Skip to Main Content

The Black Experience at Northwestern University Research Guide



The University Archives has material relating to Black student life at Northwestern including student organizations, the Black House, fraternities and sororities, student publications, athletics, academics, the Department of African American Studies, housing, performing arts, student activism, and more.

If you are looking for information about a specific collection or topic, search the  Northwestern University Archival and Manuscript Collections portal for finding aids.

Campus Life

The guide below includes recommendations for researching specific topics. The lists are not exhaustive as they are meant to serve as a starting point for research. If you are not finding what you need or would like to speak with an archivist about your research project, please contact Charla Wilson, Archivist for the Black Experience, at Keep in mind that the Archives has some material that is not searchable in our catalog. Therefore, please do not hesitate to ask for assistance if you are not finding what you need.

Recommended materials for researching student life:

Student Publications

Student Affairs

Student Organizations

  • Records of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE)
  • Student Activities Files. This artificial collection includes documents pertaining to the following student organizations with event flyers, program books, and articles. AACTION, African Drum and Dance Ensemble, African Student Association, African Students Organization, African American Law Students Association, African American Music Alliance, African American Theatre Ensemble, All African Peoples Revolutionary Party, Anti-Apartheid Alliance, Black Alumni Association, Black Athletes Uniting for the Light, Blackbeat, Blackboard, Black Folks Theatre, Black Student Handbook, Black Undergraduate Law and Business Society, Blacks in Communication, National Association of Black Journalists, NAYO, New Sense Literary Club, Northwestern Community Ensemble, One Step Before, NU Society of Black Engineers, Pamoja People, The Pursuit, United Black Christian Ministry, Undergraduate Black Management Association, Voices and Vision, Uhuru, and Umoja Circle
  • Northwestern University’s Poster Collection, 1900-2019. Contains posters from student organizations and campus departments, including FMO events, Black Student Expo, Northwestern Community Ensemble, Black Folks Theatre, Black History Month events, and more.
  • Artifacts. Includes t-shirts, buttons, sashes from various student organizations, and athletic memorabilia.  
  • Records of Athletic Media Services 
  • Northwestern Community Ensemble (NCE) Digitized Photographs



  • Course catalogs and bulletins (available in the Reading Room)
  • Student handbooks (available in the Reading Room)
  • University statistics
  • President Reports (available in the Reading Room)
  • Trustee Minutes (up to 1940)
  • Serials, searchable here, including department and student organization newsletters and publications
  • Academic department course descriptions, colloquium flyers and programs, etc.


Campus Reports


Resources to consider when researching alumni:

Alumni Papers

The list below features links to the finding aids of personal papers of Northwestern alumni that relate to the Black experience at Northwestern University. Personal papers are a collection of documents acquired by or received by an individual that often reflects their life or career. The collections listed below were donated to Northwestern University Archives. Please review the "Conditions Governing Access" section of the finding aid for information regarding restrictions.

  • Craig, Ronald Papers (1952- ). The collection features photographs taken by Craig while he was a student  photographer for the FMO publication Pamoja People, the student newspaper Daily Northwestern, and the Syllabus yearbook, 1971-1976. 
  • Flowers, Katherine Papers (1896-1982), 1934-1981. Flowers was a professor, dancer, and choreographer. She was an anthropology student under Melville Herskovitz's research on the evolution of African American dance in the United States. Her collection includes biographical material, correspondence, and records from her dance studio.
  • Harris, Joseph (1929-2016) Papers (Africana Library). Harris was a scholar of African Studies and a Northwestern student. 
  • Jackson, Angela (1951- ) Papers, Jackson is a graduate of Northwestern University’s class of 1977, and is a poet, novelist, playwright, and biographer. Her collection spans the years 1966-2018 and contains biographical materials, correspondence, manuscripts, teaching material, and publications.
  • Jefferson Paterson, Eva (1949-  ) Papers, 1970-2013. Jefferson Paterson is an alumna of Northwestern, Class of 1971. She was involved in the Bursar's Office Takeover. She was also the first black Associated Student Body president in 1970 and is known for leading the campus in a peaceful protest in response to the Kent State shooting. Her papers reflect her student activism and career as a civil rights attorney. 
  • Maxwell Reid, Daphne (1948-  ) Papers, 1951-2018. Maxwell Reid is an alumna of Northwestern, Class of 1970. She was the first black homecoming queen at Northwestern in 1967 and was involved in the Bursar's Office Takeover. Her papers include biographical material and largely reflect her careers as a model, actress, fashion designer, photographer, and author.
  • Morton, Lorraine (1918-2018) Papers, 1942-2014. Morton is an alumna of Northwestern's School of Education, Class of 1942. She was one of the first African American teachers in Evanston's District #65 and the first African American mayor of Evanston. Her papers consist of biographical and political materials.
  • Pitts, James (1944-  ) Papers, 1961-2013. Pitts received his B.A. in Political Science and M.A., and Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University. He is also a former faculty member. His collection contains newspaper clippings, correspondence, published work, awards, a scrapbook, and a jersey from his time in college.  
  • Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Engagement and Wedding Commemorative Collection. An assortment of commemorative engagement and wedding souvenirs, including magazines, Markle biographies, comic books, paper dolls, coloring books, plates, mugs, tea towels, buttons, etc. 
  • Debra Blade Papers