To identify, collect, develop, interpret, and preserve the legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune including her unique focus on the individual and collective history of African American women.
The National Archives for Black Women's History documents the legacy of Mary McLeod Bethune. The archives collects materials about and illustrating Mary McLeod Bethune, the National Council of Negro Women, other African American women's organizations, and individuals associated with those organizations. The archives also documents the ongoing preservation and interpretation of the Bethune legacy. The archives collects information in all media with a special focus on the years of Mary McLeod Bethune's life, 1875-1955.
How to Use the National Archives for Black Women's History
Researchers are encouraged to complete their preliminary research at archives and libraries with a broader topical focus before approaching the holdings of the National Archives for Black Women's History [NABWH] of Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS. The Archive has limited reference staff and limited space that must be reserved for researchers whose work focuses on materials available only at the NABWH. Access to materials is dependent upon their physical condition and the level of processing to-date by the NPS. All research in the materials must be done on-site in the research room.
Researchers should submit a request to the Archives detailing their research project to the Archivist. Research requests should be submitted with enough lead-time to allow for the evaluation of the request and the scheduling of a research visit. Research slots are often booked weeks in advance. Submit research requests to:
Approval of all research requests will be based on availability of the archives staff to supervise researchers. Only one researcher can be accommodated at a time and research slots are often scarce, so please plan ahead.
Please note: As a courtesy to fellow researchers, if you make an appointment please show up and make the most efficient possible use of the scheduled time. Appointments are scheduled from 9:30am to 4:00pm. Especially if you are scheduled for multiple days, you should plan to spend the whole day researching (minus a lunch, of course). Please schedule sightseeing, research elsewhere, or other activities outside your appointment hours. If you need to cancel an appointment, please do so as soon as possible so we can reschedule the day for someone else.
The Mary McLeod Bethune Council House NHS archives staff will email the required registration forms and electronic versions of our finding aids to the researcher. We strongly suggest that the researcher work through the finding aids before their visit to maximize the efficiency of their time with the collections. To ensure the conservation and security of this resource, browsing is not permitted.
Archives staff can answer some reference questions over the phone, depending on the complexity and time involved in fulfilling the request. Registration as a researcher is still required. If appropriate, the staff will send to interested individuals digitized copies of materials from the archives in PDF or multimedia format by secure file transfer.
All written requests for information will be answered in a timely manner. The more specific the request the easier it will be for staff to provide an answer. The archives staff reserve the right to determine that a complex or extensive request will require a research visit.
For additional information on the archives procedures and holdings, please contact the archivist by e-mail through e-mail us or by telephone at 301-832-3977.
Last updated: October 27, 2021