January 21, 2022

Stanford Libraries Launches the Black Graphic Design History Collections Initiative

From ReMix: (Stanford Libraries Newsletter):

Stanford Libraries has launched the Black Graphic Design History Collections Initiative, an endeavor to bring together the archives of Black, Indigenous, and People-of-Color luminaries working in North America in the field of graphic design, to document and celebrate the contributions of these artists, to make Stanford a research destination for the study of their work, to foster the creative exchange of perspectives and approaches to design in a multi-generational community, and to inspire future generations.

Michael A. Keller, The Ida M. Green University Librarian, said, “The Black Graphic Design History Collections are a most apropos addition to our research portfolio, which includes the papers of social justice activists, leaders, allies, and creatives. The initiative is aligned with ongoing library projects to document anti-Black discrimination.”

The project was first suggested by Cheryl D. Miller, who donated her own archive in 2018. She has publicly called for more diversity in higher education and the graphic design job markets in two influential PRINT magazine articles, “Black Designers: Missing in Action” (1987) and “Black Designers: Still Missing in Action?” (2016). Miller’s writings are core readings on the lives and struggles of talented Black graphic designers, and her papers are a cornerstone collection of the initiative.


At Stanford, the archives will be used by students, faculty, and researchers at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (the “d.school”), the Institute for the Diversity in the Arts, the African American Studies Program, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race & Ethnicity, and Stanford Libraries’ Special Collections. The research needs of a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford were instrumental in the initial acquisition of Miller’s papers.

Librarian and subject specialist Regina Lee Roberts is the lead manager of the project, consulting with Benjamin Lee Stone, curator for American and British history and associate director for the Department of Special Collections. Roberts envisions online exhibitions revealing meaningful connections: “Right away, we recognized that this project was going to be a multi-year, sustained effort to assist the artists and their families who are contributing collections. We took Miller’s proposal to heart, that is, to create a collection development plan that would expand on her work by inviting her network of colleagues and an initial cohort of celebrated graphic design artists who have contributed to the canon. As a collective, their work not only includes their art, but also their commitment to teaching, mentoring, and advocating for equity in the arts. The threads of history are many between them.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.