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Laverne Page

I am very much interested in attending and in participating in this conference because of my job which involves identifying and acquiring research material on Africana topics in all formats, including material in electronic form, and in making it available to researchers. I am compiling material and data relating to Africans in Europe for a project which will appear as an online bibliographic compilation.

Due to the emphasis on digitization and on web archiving, it will probably develop into a portal retrievable from the African and Middle Eastern Division homepage on the Library of Congress website ( The compilation should generate research interest in Africans in Europe, as well as to facilitate on-going research on the topic, and it should provide resources for an academic curricula. Among Africanist librarians in the United States, there is considerable interest in African Studies in Europe, in international library collections, and in the political and socio-economic condition of the African migrants. Those topics are included for the bibliography, as well as topics relating to maps, statistical reports, creative literature on the migrant experience, and the accommodation of youth to tradition.

In 2003, for my work as an Area Specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division, Library of Congress, I proposed acquisitions travel to three European countries to collect publications, to speak with knowledgeable people, and to visit universities and research associations concerned with African Studies and with Africans living in Europe. In my written trip proposal, I stated that there was an increasing interest in globalization trends in Africa, and with the Euro-African. I stated that African population groups throughout Europe make a significant political and social impact on their communities and that many researchers and scholars are interested in these Euro-African emigre networks and in development related research issued by numerous academic institutions and organizations.

At that time, I felt that there was a need to identify these resources because of an increasing demand, from the casually interested to the learned library researcher, for information on early African migration to Europe, as well as the waves of migration after the 1960's. Requests for this information continues. Consequently, I make an effort to keep abreast of publishing information for new titles in creative literature, films and documentaries, and studies in general on African populations in Europe from all levels of scholarship. At the Library of Congress, we collect research level material in all topics, except for clinical medicine and technical agriculture, in all formats and in all languages. With the increasing emphasis on digitization, we pay special attention to electronic resources and seek collaborative research digital projects.

For years, in collecting material for the Library of Congress collections, we concentrated on publications from the United Kingdom and France. However, I decided to look at Africans in Russia, The Netherlands and Belgium. In Russia, I visited academic institutions like Moscow State University, met prolific writers on African history, such as Dr. Appolon Davison, and discovered that few Africanist academics appeared to have heard of Dr. Allison Blakely and his work on Negroes in Russia. I was aware of the fact that many Africans went to Russia and other Eastern European countries for education, and that during the Soviet period massive waves of students from third world countries received scholarships to Russian schools, including the Patrice Lumumba University, now renamed the Russian University of Peoples Friendship.

I met former students and who would never return to their countries, due to marriage, finances or politics. I also made contact with people of African American descent. Afro-Russian activist Lily Golden, who later visited Washington, DC, was persuaded to present a program (webcast on the Library of Congress site) which provided previously unknown historical and contemporary information for a fascinated audience. In the Netherlands, there is a large group of migrants from Ghana, Somalia, Nigeria, South Africa and Cape Verde but I was mainly in contact with Dutch librarians. The larger communities of Africans in Belgium come from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Senegal, Rwanda, and Burundi and I met a more diverse group here.

The visits to these three countries was very beneficial to collection development of Africana for the Library of Congress. In addition to acquiring publications for the Library, the African Section gained access to names and addresses of ngo’s for grassroot and ephemeral publications. For me personally, this acquisitions trip was enriching since it not only yielded research material but insight into the lives of the African immigrant, and a continued view of the strength of African history and culture.

Preferred workshop: Representing Black European History

  1. What are the historical resources for Black European history?

  2. Outside of the UK and France, what are the major research centers, archives and libraries for research?

  3. What is the historical representation of Black European history?

  4. What is a Black European? Who can write the history?

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