Birmingham City Council

Black History Resources in Central Library


Black History Month aims to promote the historical contribution that Black people and communities have made to Birmingham and Britain, and to acknowledge Black communitiesperspectives and accounts of mutual histories in promoting a greater understanding of the full picture.

Birmingham Libraries staff work throughout the year to support these aims and this exhibition features examples from the vast range of resources in the Central Library.

Resources range from the 18th century documents through to modern documentary photography and the latest books by Black authors. Material is also available online as well as in the Central Library. We encourage suggestions about how to fill gaps in our resources and services, and in finding new ways of using and interpreting the material we have.

Illustrations featured in the exhibition are from the collections held in Central Library.

Holyhead School

©Pogus Caesar

Arts, Languages and Literature (Floor 3) The Birmingham Shakespeare Library and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre Archive hold material on actors such as Josetta Simon, Ray Fearon and Hugh Quarshie, as well as productions like Umabatha, the Zulu Macbeth. These extensive collections include photographs, illustrations, programmes, play scripts, books and reviews.

Birmingham Archives and Heritage Service (Floor 6) The records held in the City Archives are a rich resource for researching black history, both for Birmingham and the wider world. This material includes written records, printed sources such as publications and posters and a huge range of photographs.

Kings School, Budo, South Africa

Centre for the Child (Ground floor) A wide range of stories, picture books, poetry and information is available for children, young people and families to borrow from the Centre for the Child new titles, well loved stories and writing to challenge your hearts and minds.

Central Lending Library (Floor 1) In recent years there has been an emergence of a number of Black and Asian writers, many of whose novels reflect their own experience as children of immigrant parents growing up in multicultural Britain.

Lady from Trinidad

The Music Library (Floor 3) The Music Library has an extensive selection of Black music CDs and DVDs available for hire. There are also books and information on many aspects of Black music, its history and artists, and printed music of well-known vocalists and jazz musicians.

Social Sciences (Floor 4) Resources in Social Sciences are aimed at helping citizens make well-informed decisions and include information on all aspects of social welfare, law, community information and official publications. The diverse nature of Birmingham is reflected in a rich collection of current and historical material on a variety of subjects relevant to the study of Black history.

The Science Library (Floor 5) The Science Library has a range of resources relating to Black History in subjects such as science, technology, manufacturing, health and medicine, including non-western and non-mainstream aspects of these subjects.

Black History

On Floor 6 you will find a wide range of resources relevant to the study of Black history in Birmingham and around the world. There is a dedicated Black History Collection, which covers many aspects of Black international history, from ancient civilisations through to Black history in the 20th century.

Connecting Histories is an innovative project that aims to make archival documents and photographs about the histories of diverse city communities more accessible. We are using a range of archive collections, which telL the hidden stories of how Birmingham came to be the city it is today.

Digital Handsworth is a website that features a wealth of local history material for the areas that once made up the ancient parish of Handsworth. It shows the development of the area from a rural village to the vibrant multicultural suburb of today.

Black History Month in Birmingham

Black History Collection