Skip to main content

Umbra Search Team

  • Cecily Marcus, Principal Investigator, Givens Collection of African American Literature Curator, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Dorothy Berry, Digitization and Metadata Lead, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Jason Roy, Digital Library Services Director, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Chad Fennell, Applications Developer, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Jennifer Hootman, Education and Outreach Lead, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Mary Lodu, Project Assistant, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Free Black Dirt—Erin Sharkey and Junauda Petrus, Community Engagement
  • Sarah Carlson (2015-2017)
  • Chris Widdess (2014-2016)

Student Liaisons:

  • Monika Hetzler (2016)
  • Georgetta Wuo (2016)
  • Maryama Dahir (2016)
  • Delaney Churchwell (2014)

Umbra Search Mentor:

  • Sarah Bellamy, Artistic Director, Penumbra Theatre Company

Umbra Search Advisory Council (2017-2019):

  • Dorothy Berry, CLIR Digitization Project Manager, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Janet Bishop, Associate University Librarian, University of Minnesota Libraries
  • Valerie Caesar, Black Seed Photography
  • Sarah Carlson, University of Texas, Austin
  • Jennifer Gunn, Institute of Advanced Study, University of Minnesota
  • Ezra Hyland, College of Education and Human Development, University of Minnesota
  • Athena Jackson, Head of Special Collections Library, Penn State University Libraries
  • Sharon Kennedy Vickers, IT Management Consulting
  • Kara Olidge, Executive Director, Amistad Research Center
  • Cristina Pattuelli, School of Information, Pratt Institute
  • Junauda Petrus, Performance Artist, Writer, Free Black Dirt
  • Erin Sharkey, Writer, Free Black Dirt
  • Catherine Squires, Professor of Communication Studies and Director of Race, Indigeneity, Gender & Sexuality Studies Initiative (RIGS), University of Minnesota
  • John S. Wright, Morse-Amoco Distinguished Teaching Professor, Departments of African & African American Studies and English, University of Minnesota

What institutions are behind Umbra Search?

Umbra Search is developed by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota in partnership with the Penumbra Theatre Company.

Established in 1986, the Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries contains over 10,000 books, magazines, and pamphlets by or about African Americans. From Phillis Wheatley’s seminal 1773 Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral to Minnesota hip-hop, the Givens Collection has particular strength in the areas of the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. It also holds a significant number of materials that relate to African American education, social sciences, journalism, arts, sports, and entertainment, including the Penumbra Theatre Company archives and the Lou Bellamy Rare Book Collection, which contains over 850 titles including the self-published Narrative of Sojourner Truth and other books that predate the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Givens Collection is located at the Elmer L. Andersen Library in Minneapolis, MN, and is open to the public.

Lou Bellamy founded Penumbra Theatre Company in 1976 to create art that roars with authenticity through the rich and unrestrained voices of black playwrights and artists. The powerful and unapologetic representation of the African American experience defines Penumbra’s art, driving its education programs to provide rigorous scholarship while creating an entry point for everyone. Penumbra’s ultimate goal is to engage audiences in dialogue and action around issues of racism and equity, and renewing our sense of shared responsibility in building healthy, vibrant communities. Penumbra has achieved national recognition for its high quality productions; groundbreaking educational programs and collaborations; the development of new work and launching the career of many artists including two-time Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson; and for opening avenues to include and celebrate the black experience as part of the American narrative. Penumbra’s artistic director is Sarah Bellamy. Lou Bellamy serves as Artistic Director Emeritus.


Umbra Search is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, with generous support from the University of Minnesota.

Digitization of University of Minnesota Libraries materials is funded by the Council of Library and Information Resources, with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.