In 1971, the Florida Legislature mandated the creation of a repository to “serve the state by collecting and preserving source material on and about African Americans from ancient to present times.” This mandate gave birth to what would later become the Black Archives Research Center and Museum. The center was founded in 1976 by Florida A&M University history professor, Dr. James N. Eaton. It officially opened in historic Carnegie Library on FAMU’s campus. Since that time, the Black Archives has served as a research center for individuals of various ages, ethnicities, and interests. By functioning both as a repository for archival records and a museum for historical regalia, the center continues to render academic support to educational institutions, civic, political, religious and social groups, as well as, public and private businesses throughout Florida and the nation.
Although designated as a statewide facility, the Black Archives quickly evolved into an important regional, national and international research center for studies pertaining to African-American culture and history. Due to generous contributions from the public, the center’s holdings consist of more than 500,000 individual archival records and more than 5,000 individual museum artifacts. The center is one of 10 black archives in the United States and is one of the largest repositories relating to African-American history and culture in the Southeast. More than 160,000 people visit the center annually, or are educated through the Archives’ numerous outreach programs. Many reference requests and visitors to the museum include people from throughout the United States and other parts of the world including Africa, Canada, England, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Switzerland, and the West Indies.