Umbra: Search African American History ( is a free digital platform and widget that brings together content documenting African American history and culture in order to enable the creation of new works—research projects, scholarship, curricula, art of all kinds—that illuminate parts of our history that have not been enough broadly accessible.

The urgency of representing African American history and culture as fully as possible drives Umbra. Through partnerships, open data, and technology, Umbra works against centuries of loss and erasure to expand the historical record for students, scholars, and the general public.

The materials aggregated and presented in Umbra represent:
• Those that have been collected by libraries, archives, and cultural heritage organizations
• The specific selections that have, to date, been digitized and made openly available online.

Umbra celebrates the vital efforts of the individuals and institutions that have helped to preserve and make accessible online hundreds of thousands of pieces of African American history and culture, and pays homage to the Umbra Society of the early 1960s, a renegade group of Black writers and poets who helped create the Black Arts Movement.

Umbra is developed by the Givens Collection of African American Literature at the University of Minnesota Libraries in partnership with Penumbra Theatre Company. It is made possible through generous support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.*