The Sojourner Truth Room is located at the Oxon Hill Branch. Most materials are available in the Sojourner Truth Room only; copies of selected materials are also available in the library's catalog. A library card or other identification is necessary for accessing some materials. A scanner and photocopy machine are available.
The Sojourner Truth Room is named for the hero of antislavery and women’s rights, Sojourner Truth. (Click to learn more about her.) The library branch stands on the site of the Sojourner Truth Elementary School for African Americans. Some of the historical foundation and walls were incorporated into the structure. Now the Sojourner Truth room offers resources on the African American incorporated towns of Prince George’s County and a fine research collection on African American history. There is a section of the room dedicated to upcoming engineers and urban planners, with specially equipped workstations, a 3D printer and digital video cameras.
Prince George's County is one of the oldest counties in the state of Maryland. It also has the most unique assortment of incorporated black towns in the state. The history of the incorporated towns is one that needs to be displayed and presented, and there is no better place for that sort of presentation than the Sojourner Truth Room. While the room currently has a vast collection of African American history resources, the integration of an incorporated town display would focus that history to a very local and very relevant level.
There are currently 22 incorporated towns in Prince George's County, some recently incorporated and others as old as 90 years. North Brentwood was the first African American incorporated town in the county, established in 1924. It houses the Prince George's County African American Museum and has had its historical data displayed both in the Anacostia Smithsonian Museum and the State House in Annapolis. That historical data, which was collected and curated by the North Brentwood Historical Society, currently resides in a storage unit and should have a permanent, accessible home. This is the focus that the Sojourner Truth Room needs. It is a mutualistic relationship. The African American Incorporated Towns exhibit can also serve as a centerpiece for the projects done with the technology. The aim of our project will be to select ten out of the currently twenty-two incorporated towns that have the largest African American population and display their history and background in the Sojourner Truth Room. These ten towns are: North Brentwood, Capitol Heights, District Heights, Glenarden, Eagle Harbor, New Carrollton, Seat Pleasant, Fairmount Heights, Landover Hills and Croom. Incorporated towns themselves are historic but contained within them are also events and sites that truly speak to Prince George's and its unique local history. This local history is another important aspect of the county that can be exhibited in the Sojourner Truth Room. For example, the port town of Eagle Harbor is a site recognized for its historical significance by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
This local history is a part of what makes Prince George's the diverse and inclusive county it is today, the history is researchable but it is also tangible and very present. Focusing the African American history of the room to a local level would add an appeal to the Sojourner Truth Room that cannot be duplicated elsewhere.
The Oxon Hill Branch of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System was built on the site of the Sojourner Truth Elementary School in 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. In response to the Civil Rights era's growing request for African American research materials, the Oxon Hill Branch Library's special collection was created. It focuses on African American history and culture. Named for Sojourner Truth, the collection continues to honor one of this country's truly remarkable women and has become an outstanding regional resource.
This comprehensive collection of reference materials on African American history and culture includes over 18,000 cataloged items (many are rare or out-of-print), periodicals, sheet music by African American composers, photographs and posters. The pamphlet file contains pamphlets, clippings and other reference sources. The collection is for use in the Sojourner Truth Room but copies of selected materials are also in the library's circulating collection. Information is available from microfilm and hard copy editions of an extensive set of current and historical periodicals, including the NAACP's Crisis (1910), the Journal of Negro History (1916) and Ebony Magazine (1945).
The collection includes editions of some slave narratives and the thirty-one volume Writer's Project series. Other topics are antislavery and slavery tracts, literary criticism, and the history of African Americans in Maryland and Prince George's County.
The books in the Sojourner Truth Room appear in the library catalog. A separate index of biographies, short stories, plays and literary criticism in the collection is available in the Sojourner Truth Room.
The Sojourner Truth Room contains over 18,000 books on all aspects of African American history and culture, including literature, art, music, sociology, religion and biography. Highlights include:
“The Sojourner Truth Room subscribes to several scholarly magazines and journals and maintains complete back files of many periodical including the Crisis, the Journal of Negro History, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of Black Studies.
Arranged by subject, the files contain articles from historic and local newspapers, magazines and pamphlets. Subjects such as school desegregation in Prince George’s County and the history of Prince George’s County African American Incorporated Towns are available.
An extensive card index provides name access to the biographical information found in books in the collection and the pamphlet file. A separate index provides access to the short stories, speeches and plays in the collection.