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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.


  • 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.


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

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.