John Ramos Collection in the Missouri Valley Room
In 1926, W. R. Howell, a history teacher at Lincoln High School, and Priscilla Burd, the Kansas City Public Library’s Lincoln Branch head librarian, began to assemble a comprehensive collection of material about and by African Americans. The collection moved to the Main Library when the Lincoln Branch closed in 1971 and was officially designated the John Ramos Collection in honor of Dr. John Ramos, Jr., the first African American elected to serve on the Kansas City Board of Education.
The collection includes important books, pamphlets, newspaper and magazine articles, and vertical file materials that relate to African American history and culture with a special emphasis on the Kansas City area. First edition books by such authors and poets as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen and other artists from the Harlem Renaissance, as well as books on spirituals, jazz and blues music are included. Of particular interest are autographs of notable African Americans gathered in 1937 by Miss Burd. Additional autographs were later incorporated into the Ramos Collection, including a Langston Hughes manuscript gifted by former Urban League Executive Director Thomas Webster.
Books in this collection are noted in the Library’s catalog with the identifier "Ramos" in the call number. The contents of the Ramos Lincoln Collection Vertical Files are listed online and are indexed in the Local History Index.
Lincoln High School Cadet Band and Orchestra, 1917