Event—Adult Education

Race, Violence, and Power in the Archive: Primary Sources as Subjective Spaces


Whose stories get to be told?

Bookshelves, Giuseppe Maria Crespi, 1725. Source: International Museum and Library of Music via Wikimedia Commons.

Class Description

Through a selection of readings and discussions, we will think about the Newberry and other Chicago institutions as homes to history—the places where we go to learn about our past. We will ask how, why, and where race appears and disappears in the archive, considering whose stories archives and libraries historically have told.

By thinking through the roles of power, race, and violence within archives, we will identify challenges to the study of history and invite new ways to tell marginalized histories. We will ask why certain histories are privileged, why other histories are less present, and what their absence means.

While the class will focus predominantly on finding Black histories in libraries, we will also think about how these ideas affect other marginalized people. By the end of the course, students will have a deeper understanding of the role of race, violence, and power in libraries and archives.

Alex Keith, a PhD candidate at Northwestern University, specializes in Black American and Black European histories, with a focus on gender and cultural history.

Materials List


  • Digital Course Packet

Cost and Registration

6 Sessions, $245 ($220 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

We now offer our classes at three different price options: Regular ($245), Community Supported ($230), and Sponsor ($260). Following the models of other institutions, we want to ensure that our classes are accessible to a wider audience while continuing to support our instructors. You may choose the price that best fits your situation when registering through Learning Stream.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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