Home Learning & Research African American Historical Resources

The Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library is committed to preserving historical and genealogical materials related to our local African-American communities.

Key resources include the African American History & Genealogy Library, the Florida Sentinel Bulletin Collection, and the Florida History & Genealogy Library.

African American History & Genealogy Library

Exterior of Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library

At the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library

Paying homage to the historic black neighborhood of Central Avenue, the Robert W. Saunders, Sr. Public Library, originally known as the Ybor City Branch Library, was renamed in honor of the civil rights activist and former NAACP Field Director. Mr. Saunders was named Florida’s second NAACP Field Director after the bombing assassination of Harry T. Moore. He was Field Director from 1952-1965, during some of the most turbulent years of the civil rights movement.

Hall of History

Located on the first floor of the library, this interactive mini-museum features interactive displays and exhibits highlighting the historic Central Avenue business district.

Collection

  • The African American History & Genealogy Library features the only African American focused genealogy reference collection in Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries.
  • The circulating collection features titles on all facets of African American life, history and culture.
  • The general reference collection has a variety of encyclopedias, atlases, local history binders, newspaper clippings and more.
  • The area is enhanced with a display of authentic African art.
  • The archives room features rare books, microfilm and historical memorabilia.

Historical Resources

Freedmen's Bureau Records

The Records of the Reconstruction-era government agency, which offered legal, economic and social assistance to freed slaves from 1865-1872, on microfilm.

Neighborhood Resources

Local history reference binders featuring resources on the historic black neighborhoods of Tampa.

Gallery

Wide view of African-American History & Genealogy Library
Sign for African-American History & Genealogy Library
Bookshelf with 3 African sculptures and wall of historic photos
Bank of public computers in Library
Wide view of Library from opposite direction
Display of limited edition Maya Angelou book Deep Rivers in My Soul

Florida Sentinel Bulletin Collection

Exterior of C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library

At the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library

The Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper has had a long and influential history. In 1919, William W. Andrews, the father of C. Blythe Andrews, Sr. started the Florida Sentinel newspaper in Jacksonville, Florida. The newspaper closed, but in December 1945 C. Blythe Andrews, Sr. re-opened it at 1511 Central Avenue in Tampa, Florida. He went on to buy the Tampa Bulletin in 1959 and merged the two papers into the Florida Sentinel Bulletin. Mr. Andrews remained the publisher until 1976. His son, C. Blythe Andrews, Jr., became editor-in-chief after his father’s death on April 2, 1977.

In December 1996, Mr. C. Blythe Andrews Jr., turned over the reins to his daughter S. Kay Andrews and his son C. Blythe, III. In May 2019, the organization transferred 118 bound volumes (1945-2010) to the C. Blythe Andrews, Jr. Public Library’s Florida Sentinel Bulletin Collection for long term preservation and digitization.

Collection

  • Florida Sentinel Bulletin newspaper - bound volumes (1945-2010) and microfilm (1947- 2008). * gaps exist*
  • Reference Collection
  • Ebony Magazine - 95 bound volumes (1968-2015). * gaps exist *
  • Jet Magazine (1979-1985) and Ebony Magazine (1945-1991) microfilm.

Gallery

First edition of Floria Sentinel Bulletin Collection December 1, 1945
View of Floria Sentinel Bulletin Collection room
Bank of PCs and microfilm viewer
Bound issue with headline Jackie Calls for Unity at NAACP Banquet
Award display for C. Blythe Andrews Jr. from Lily White Grand Assembly
Awards and historic items in display case for C. Blythe Andrews Jr.

Florida History & Genealogy Library

Exterior of John F. Germany Public Library

At the John F. Germany Public Library

The Florida History & Genealogy Library, on the 4th floor of the John F. Germany Public Library, is home to one of the largest genealogy collections in the southeastern United States. The library collects Florida history and genealogy materials related to multiple ethnic groups.

Collection

  • The Library has a wide selection of genealogy resources such as books, periodicals, journals, and microfilm. Additionally, the library also has books related to various ethnic groups, foreign countries, and the U.S. military.
  • The reference collection has over 7,000 titles about Florida History.
  • The telephone and city directory collection includes a significant amount of books related to Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties.
  • The Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps and Florida maps provide a wealth of local geographic and building information.
  • The newspaper collection has 19th and 20th century local and Florida newspapers on microfilm.
  • The Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection presents a unique pictorial record of Tampa Bay and Florida's west coast from the late 1800s to the early 1960s.
  • Local history reference binders feature resources on the historic black neighborhoods of Tampa.
  • The Library also has various miscellaneous collections such as a newspaper clippings, genealogy research files, and ephemera.

Gallery

Historic city directory
Customer using document scanner
Main seating area near computer bank
Row of historic documents including city directories
Large filing cabinet presumably full of historical documents
Burgert Brothers photo display

Research Equipment

Man viewing Florida Sentinel Bulletin on document scanner

In addition to the technology common to all locations, like printing and copying, these collections feature:

  • CanoScan 9000F Mark II Film & Document Scanner for documents, photographs, 35mm negatives, and slides.
  • HoverCam Solo 8Plus Document Camera to create overhead video/still images of books and photographs.
  • ST ViewScan 4 Microfilm Scanner to create digital files of microfilm.

Historic Gallery

Officers of Tampa Urban League posed in office
Home Demonstration Group, members posed in rows in matching dresses and hats
Adams City Hatters, 620 Tampa Street, work room
Allen Temple Parsonage Aid Club banquet group
Group of males posed in front of building
Group of three young women at Don Thompson Vocational High School
Prom queen and attendants at Booker T. Washington Junior High School
Tampa Urban League group of women members
Cheerleaders at Middleton Senior High School
Student king and queen at Dobyville Elementary School
Five African-American men attending science exhibit
Women harvesting budding gladiolus in A & W Bulb Company field

These photos and more can be found in the Burgert Brothers Photographic Collection, a unique record of Tampa Bay spanning the late 1800s to the early 1960s.