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Umbra Search African American History makes African American history more broadly accessible through a freely available widget and search tool, umbrasearch.org; digitization of African American materials across University of Minnesota collections; and support of students, educators, artists, and the public through residencies, workshops, and events locally and around the country.

umbrasearch.org brings together more than 500,000 digitized materials from over 1,000 libraries and archives across the country.

Umbra Search celebrates the vital efforts of the individuals and institutions that have helped to preserve and make accessible online hundreds of thousands of pieces of African American history and culture, and we pay homage to the Umbra Society of the early 1960s, a renegade group of Black writers and poets who helped create the Black Arts Movement.


We continue to add content and make changes that we hope will improve how well Umbra Search works. If you would like to provide feedback, please write to us at info@umbrasearch.org. We also invite you to complete a brief online survey about your experience.


Umbra Search is developed by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries' Archives and Special Collections, with Penumbra Theatre Company. We are indebted to the Digital Public Library of America, whose corpus provides over half of the content found in Umbra Search. Umbra Search is the recipient of the 2017 Award for Access from the Center for Research Libraries.

Umbra Search is made possible through generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Council on Library and Information Resources.

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Project documentation can be found here.

*Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in this website do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, or the Council on Library and Information Resources.