Tacoma Public Library Black History Research Guide

Welcome to the Northwest Room's Black History Research Guide

This guide compiles resources related to the Black history in Tacoma and the Pacific Northwest. Each listing includes links to a catalog record or to digitized material including maps, documents, images, audio, and video recordings. Select any of the blue-colored text to access the links. Links in bold indicate that the item described has been digitized and is available to view online. This guide is continually expanding so please check back regularly. If you have questions about this guide, please reach out to us at (253) 280-2814 or nwr@tacomalibrary.org.

Digitized items in the Northwest ORCA database are grouped under the subject heading Communities -- Black Community.

Early Pacific Northwest and American West Black History

African American Women Confront the American West, 1600-2000 by Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Wilson Moore
Black People Who Made the Old West by William Loren Katz
Black Pioneers Images of the Black Experience on the North American Frontier by John W. Ravage
Black Women of the Old West by William Loren Katz
Dangerous Subjects by Kenneth R. Coleman
A History of Blacks in the Pacific Northwest, 1788-1970 by Quintard Taylor
• Page 16, "Black Pioneers of Tacoma” in, A History of Pierce County, Washington, Vol. 3, by Heritage League of Pierce County
The Negro in the State of Washington, 1788-1969: a Bibliography of Published Works and of Unpublished Source Materials on the Life and Achievements of the Negro in the Evergreen State, by Hazel E. Mills
Tacoma, Northwest Black Pioneers a Centennial Tribute by Ralph Hayes
The Black West by William Loren Katz

Tacoma Black History

Who We Are an Informal History of Tacoma's Black Community Before World War I by Gary Fuller Reese
The Tacoma Green Book Directory of Tacoma by Tacoma City Association of Colored Women's Club, c.1960
Helen Stafford Papers Helen Cecile Beck Stafford (1899-2002) was a long-time community and civil rights advocate in Tacoma.
Tacoma Residential Security (Redlining) Map, 1929 Ed., Updated 1937 by Nicholson Engineering Co., 1929 Ed.
Census and History of Tacoma and Pierce County Negros, State of Washington, June 1929 Edited by H. McElroy Stovall. A directory of business places and professional people who were supportive of Black patronage in Tacoma and Pierce County
Black Lives Matter Mural Project Collection , A collection of photographs, planning documents, and interviews related to the creation of a Black Lives Matter mural in Tollefson Plaza in 2022.
Charles Carson Papers , Charles Carson (1970-) is a local speaker, organizer, and musician. In 1989, he began working with Safe Streets to develop programs for local at risk youth impacted by drugs and violence in Tacoma.
Paul Jackson Digital Videos , Paul Jackson, PhD (1968-) is a local speaker, digital media author, and filmmaker.
Since I Been Down, DVD, directed by Gilda Sheppard
• Oral history interviews recorded by the Community Archives Center with Isadore Wallace, Juanita Olivas, Cynthia Tucker, Reverend Bob Penton, Jamika Scott, Bernice Morehead, Shondea Chapman, Regyna Frazier, and Alfonso Brown.
• Clippings and Reference Files
-----Tacoma - African Americans
-----Tacoma - Neighborhoods - Hilltop
-----Tacoma - Biography - Asberry, Nettie (African American leader, music teacher, and centenarian who helped found the Tacoma NAACP)
-----Tacoma - Biography - Conna, John (Tacoma area Black pioneer)
-----Tacoma - Biography - Ellis, Manuel "Manny" (Manuel Ellis was a 33-year-old Black man who was killed while in police custody on March 3rd, 2020, in Tacoma, Washington.)
-----Tacoma - Biography - Taylor, Virginia (Virginia Taylor was a businesswoman, activist, politician, community advocate, and publisher of the Hilltop newspaper The Northwest Dispatch.)
-----Tacoma - Biography - Stafford, Helen (Helen Cecile Beck Stafford was a community and civil rights advocate in Tacoma)

Tacoma’s Black-Owned Newspapers

The Forum, (1903-1918) Founded by John Ryan in 1903. Published by Ella Ryan after 1906.
Progress Messenger (March 13—May 26, 1970) [ Found on Microfilm “Pierce County Miscellaneous #5”]
The Tacoma Facts (November 27, 1970-April 2, 2008) A weekly newspaper primarily focused on issues of relevance to Tacoma's Black community.
Tacoma True Citizen (February 19—March 11, 1976) Published by W. Larry Williams
The Northwest Dispatch (1990-1998) Founded by Virginia Taylor. A weekly newspaper primarily focused on issues of relevance to Tacoma's Black community.

Community Groups

Tacoma NAACP Chapter
Tacoma Branch NAACP Celebrates 100 Years, Book Fighting for Freedom in Tacoma - Pierce County Since 1913, By the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Tacoma Branch.
• Clippings and Reference Files
-----Tacoma - African Americans - NAACP
-----Tacoma - African Americans - NAACP - Newsletters
-----Tacoma - African Americans - NAACP – Photographs

Tacoma-Pierce County Black Collective
Tacoma-Pierce County Black Collective Records
Video Recording of Meeting Between Norm Rice, Karen Vialle, and the Black Collective

Black Panthers in the Pacific Northwest
My People Are Rising: Memoir of a Black Panther Party Captain by Aaron Dixon
The Portland Black Panthers Empowering Albina and Remaking a City by, Lucas Burke

Personal Histories

African American Life in Tacoma Oral history interviews with Louise R. Turner and Bernice C. Canada by Preston T. Jones conducted 02/09/1994. Sisters and lifelong Tacoma residents share their family history and reflect on how the city's racial attitudes have changed during their lifetimes. They describe their experiences as African Americans growing up in turn-of-the-century Tacoma and comment on the rise of segregation during and after the World Wars.
All My Somedays: Voices from Black Family Albums
My 48 Years Walking with the Lord: 1952-2000, by Reverend Dr. Joseph Andrew Boles of the St. John Baptist Church
Fighting for Dreams That Mattered by Harold Moss. Tacoma's first Black mayor
Civil Rights and Civic Pride; the Story of Harold G. Moss and the City of Tacoma by Alison Henderson Sonntag
Dr. Sam, Soldier, Educator, Advocate, Friend; An Autobiography by Kelly, Samuel E. (Samuel Eugene)
Horace Roscoe Cayton by Thomas E. Douglas. Cayton was a journalist and political activist. He ran the Seattle African American newspaper "Seattle Republican".

Washington and Pacific Northwest Black History

Black Spokane the Civil Rights Struggle in the Inland Northwest by Dwayne Mack
Black Americans and the Civil Rights Movement in the West by Bruce A. Glasrud and Cary D. Wintz
Lillian Walker, Washington State Civil Rights Pioneer a Biography & Oral History, Walker (1914-2012) was the recording secretary of the Puget Sound Civic Society, a civil rights coalition formed by the newly chartered Bremerton, WA branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
• Chapter 3, "Washington’s African American Communities", p.75-113 in, Peoples of Washington; Perspectives on Cultural Diversity, edited by Sid White and S.E. Solberg
• Section 2, Chapter IX, “There Was No Better Place to G; African American Migration 1940-1950", by Quintard Taylor in, Terra Northwest: Interpreting People and Place by David H. Stratton
Trailblazing Black Women of Washington State by Marilyn Morgan
Washington's Negro Pioneer: George Washington Bush, by The Seattle Congress of Racial Equality
Washington State Rising; Black Power on Campus in the Pacific Northwest by Marc Arsell Robinson

Seattle and King County Black History

Calabash: A Guide to the History, Culture, and Art of African Americans in Seattle and King County, Washington, by Esther Hall Mumford
Sunday Afternoons at Garfield Park: Seattle's Black Baseball Teams, 1911-1951, by Lyle Kenai Wilson
Dr. Sam, Soldier, Educator, Advocate, Friend; An Autobiography by Samuel E. Kelley, Dr. Samuel E. Kelly was hired as the first vice president for the newly formed Office of Minority Affairs at the University of Washington in 1970. Also, the first African American senior administrator at the UW, Dr. Kelly was an educational advocate who opened doors for hundreds of underrepresented students at the UW.
The Forging of a Black Community; Seattle's Central District, From 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era by Quintard Taylor
Seattle's Black Victorians, 1852-1901, by Esther Hall Mumford
Seattle in Black and White the Congress of Racial Equality and the Fight for Equal Opportunity by Joan Singer


Black Names in America: Origins and Usage, by Newbell Niles Puckett
Black Genesis: A Resource Book for African-American Genealogy, by James M. Rose
Family Pride: the Complete Guide to Tracing African-American Genealogy, by Donna Beasley
Finding Your People: An African-American Guide to Discovering Your Roots, by Sandra Lee Jamison
A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering your African-American Ancestors: How to Find and Record your Unique Heritage, by Franklin Carter Smith
History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880, by George Washington Williams

Edited 2/6/2024