The African American Collection includes over 500 books and other publications in all subject areas by and about black people throughout the world. Collection areas of interest are United States black history and civil rights movements and literature and pamphlets by black authors on slavery, emancipation, and the black experience in the United States.
Early highlights from the collection include the first book ever published by an African-American, Phyllis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773); the original edition of My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass (1856); and an early edition of William Still's The Underground Railroad, and the January 12, 1833 issue of The Liberator. More modern materials include pamphlets on the Scottsboro Case, many titles by and about the Black Panther Party and Angela Davis, published speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, and signed books by Toni Morrison, Gloria Naylor, and Gwendolyn Brooks. We also hold a large run of Minister Louis Farrakhan's newspaper, The Final Call.
NIU also holds the papers of Willard Motley, an African-American writer who was part of the Chicago Renaissance.