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Collection African American Perspectives: Materials Selected from the Rare Book Collection

Daniel A. P. Murray

Daniel A. P. Murray (1853-1925). Photographer unknown. Photograph, undated.


African-American Daniel A. P. Murray joined the professional staff of the Library of Congress in 1871. He was eighteen years old, and only the second black American to work for the Library. Ten years later Murray was named assistant librarian, a position he held for forty-one years. Murray married educator Anna Jane Evans, and the couple became a major force in the social and civic life of the District of Columbia. Active in Republican politics, Murray testified before Congress and was consulted by presidents on issues such as lynching and Jim Crow segregation laws. He was also well known for his writings on African-American history, including his monumental but uncompleted Historical and Biographical Encyclopedia of the Colored Race.

At the start of his quest to collect literature by and about black Americans, he stated, "The true test of the progress of a people is to be found in their literature."

To learn more, watch the webcast The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray & the Story of a Forgotten Era. The story of Daniel Alexander Payne Murray and the rise and fall of America's black upper class during the latter quarter of the 19th Century is the subject of a new book by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor, "The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era."