Africans and African Americans (Archives and Special Collections)

Immigration History Research Center Archives (IHRCA)

AFRICA/AFRICANS (primarily in, or recently migrating from, Africa)

Refugee Studies Center records, circa 1970-1999. This Center was started by faculty members at the University of Minnesota who became interested in the experiences of Southeast Asian refugees. They established the Southeast Asian Refugee Studies (SARS) project in 1980, which was changed to Refugee Studies Center (RSC) in 1995. The records pertain to refugees from predominantly Southeast Asia, but also Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. Included are statistical reports, files documenting the individual ethnic groups' histories and cultures, newspaper clippings and information regarding other organizations nationally working with refugee groups.

  • On Somalis, see particularly:
    • Series 6, Resource Files, Subseries 18, "Somali."
    • Series 5, Resource Files, Subseries 10, “East Africa.” 
    • Series 3, Refugee Organizations, “Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).” (This includes a report on Benadir Somali Community created by LIRS c. 1995, with brief descriptions of historical background, culture, effects of the Civil War, skills and recommendations for resettlement.) 
    • Series 3, Refugee Organizations, “Minnesota Refugee Consortium/ Minnesota Refugee and Immigrant Consortium” minutes, 1993-1999 (includes Somali resettlement information and rosters of participating organizations).
    • Series 7, “Articles.”

United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants records, 1958-2007. This Committee was initially named the US Committee for Refugees and aims to “address the needs and rights of persons in forced or voluntary migration worldwide by advancing fair and humane public policy, facilitating and providing direct professional services, and promoting the full participation of migrants in community life.” Their organizational records in the Archives include meeting minutes, correspondence, project materials, and resource files on refugee groups world-wide. They include files on various African locations and on Africans in refugee status elsewhere.

Eva Helen Erickson papers, 1990-1994. Collection consists of materials (drafts of chapters, correspondence) pertaining to the publication of "The Story of Rosa Lemberg." Rosa (Clay) Lemberg was a Namibian-born American Finnish teacher, singer, actress, choir director, and theater director. Learn more about her life here.


International Institute of Minnesota records, 1920-2004. This organization, now over 100 years old, provided interethnic and intercultural programs for Minnesotans. See Series 14: General Files, "Negro" file.

Immigrant of Distinction Award (American Immigration Lawyers' Association - AILA) Oral History collection, Nyango Nambangi oral history, 2009. An oral history with Nambangi, Cameroonian American woman who served as a Hubert Humphrey International Fellow at the University of Minnesota and co-founded of the Minnesota African Women’s Association (MAWA). The amount specifically addressing Somali women is small, but she provides much general information about the experiences of African refugee and immigrant women in Minnesota.

Rachel Davis Dubois Papers, 1917-1973. Rachel Davis Dubois was a leader and pioneer in intercultural education and race and ethnicity relations during the 20th century. On her work with African American culture, see particularly the Series "Intercultural Education, 'Americans All, Immigrants All' " and the Series titled "Race Relations.” Available online.

To specifically contact the IHRCA, please:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 612-625-4800

Kautz Family YMCA Archives (YMCA)


YMCA Colored Work Department records, 1871-1946. Reports, correspondence, publications, and other records of the National Council's Colored Work Department, established in 1890, and predecessor programs, created as avenues for African American participation in and service to the YMCA.

YMCA Interracial Programs records, 1946-1980. Reports, correspondence, and other records documenting various committees, programs, and conferences intended to monitor and promote the process of integration and the elimination of racial inequality within the YMCA, as well as to identify and address the unmet needs of African American and other non-white people served by the organization.

To specifically contact the YMCA archives, please:

  • Email:
  • Phone: 612-625-3445

Social Welfare History Archives (SWHA)


Child Study Association of America records; the Inter-Community Child Study Committee files, 1925-1935. The Committee was founded in 1929 to provide parent education on child development and related issues in African American communities. These materials detail the formation and work of the Committee, which included child study groups in Baltimore; Montclair and Englewood, New Jersey; Brooklyn, North Harlem and Tuckahoe, New York; and Washington, D.C. See Series 7

Council on Social Work Education records, 1919-1979 (bulk 1953-1975); Record Group 15, “Minorities” files. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the National Association of Black Social Workers and other groups challenged the relationship between social work and communities of color in a movement that demanded greater diversity and cultural competence. The Council’s files include studies, meeting minutes, and correspondence related to African American and other communities of color as both recipients of social services and as social work students, practitioners, and educators.

To contact the SWHA specifically, please: 

  • Email:
  • Phone: 612-624-6394 

Last Updated: Jan 24, 2024 1:02 PM