Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by Eric Velasquez
Arthur (birth name Arturo) Schomburg’s personal story may seem like a small chapter in the history of African descendants. He had a great ability to shine a light on other stories that may have passed into obscurity or become footnotes.
Born in Puerto Rico, Schomburg was obsessed early on with learning about the story that wasn’t being told. He moved to New York when he was 17. With no records of his formal education, he could not enter law school or medical school, but that did not stop him from indexing and memorizing thousands of pages of testimony in his job as law clerk. Then the book collecting bug bit. He collected obscure volumes, many written by African descendants, thus of little interest to white people and therefore relatively cheap. He was struck by the tremendous talents among people like Phillis Wheatley, who was not well-known, and Frederick Douglass, who was known only in certain circles. He also learned that people who he did know about, like John James Audubon and Ludwig von Beethoven, had more African background than most people knew. Schomburg’s book collection quickly outgrew his home, so the Carnegie Corporation bought it for the New York Public Library. The Division of Negro History, Literature and Prints was born. He worked one year at Fisk University in Nashville on their Negro Collection. He always had definite ideas on what was important and how to arrange the collection.
More than window dressing, the realistic illustrations provide important information about Mr. Schomburg, his life and times, and about the history he was learning. The illustrator depicts the looks and activities of those Schomburg was learning about.
So much information is contained in this book, but the reader has so much more to learn. A great starting place.
- Title: Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library
- Author: Carole Boston Weatherford
- Illustrator: Eric Velasquez
- Published: Dawn Publications, September 12, 2017
- Reviewer: Sue Poduska
- Format: Hardcover, 48 pages
- Grade Level: 4 to 7
- Genre: Nonfiction, History
- ISBN: 978-0-7636-8046-6
- Extras: Timeline, Source Notes, Bibliography