African American Museum & Library at Oakland

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Branch Address

659 14th St.
Oakland, CA  94612
(510) 637-0200

Branch Hours

12:00pm - 5:30pm

About the African American Museum & Library at Oakland

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is dedicated to the discovery, preservation, interpretation and sharing of historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations.

The reference library supports the archives and museum with a special, non-circulating collection of materials designated for library use only.


AAMLO's archival collection is a unique resource on the history of African Americans in Northern California and the Bay Area. The archives includes over 160 collections documenting prominent families, pioneers, churches, social and political organizations. Finding aids are available in the Online Archive of California and digitized items in Calisphere.  Freedom's Journal, the LiberatorCalifornia VoiceSun ReporterMuhammed Speakers, and the Black Panther newspapers are available on microfilm.

Using AAMLO's oral history collection, researchers can listen to interviews with local civil rights activists, educators, writers, and musicians. AAMLO is home to the Eternal Voices video library containing more than 80 years of African American East Bay history and Susheel Bibb's Meet Mary Pleasant DVD (scholarly interviews, key issues and documents).

The microfilm collection includes primary research information on African American enslavement, military service, California census records 1910-1930, Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association, W.E.B. Dubois, Benjamin Banneker, Mary Church Terrell, Paul Robeson and others. The archives department is open from 12-4. To make an appointment call (510) 637-0198. 

Reference Library

AAMLO has a unique non-circulating reference library, a jewel for researchers, students, and anyone interested in African American history. Its collection consists of approximately 12,000 volumes by or about African Americans. Among its many subjects are books on religion, the military, Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcom X, the Black Panther Party, Africa in relationship to the African-American experience, genealogy, and California history.

A collection of children's books highlights award-winning titles. Patrons can access on-line databases or thumb through James de T. Abajian's Blacks in Selected Newspapers, Censuses and Other Sources.

One recent acquisition is the new eight-volume set African American National Biography, containing over 4,000 entries written by distinguished scholars and edited by Henry Louis Gates. The reference library offers access to local and out of state newspapers, scholarly journals, and six computers with word processing and Internet access. 

The library owns about 400 videos and DVDs which can be viewed on-site. Library staff are available to assist with research questions, or browsing and enjoyment of the collection.

AAMLO also has a Seed Lending Library. Anyone is welcome to come in and check-out seeds. No library card is needed. We ask that you sign out for the seeds, then let some plants go to seed and return some of these next generation seeds for others to borrow. 


The second floor museum regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions that highlight the art, history and culture of African Americans.

Here is the Muata art exhibition Oding Muata: The Man, The Artist.  The late artist Oding Muata (1955-2018) was a dedicated educator who taught art in Oakland and Berkeley for over 20 years. The exhibition Oding Muata: The Man, The Artist consists of four components: Jazz Musicians, Athletes, Blue Lady Series, and Black Cinema.

AAMLO History

In 1946, Eugene and Ruth Lasartemay and Jesse and Dr. Marcella Ford began collecting the oral histories and artifacts that documented the activities of African Americans in and around Oakland, the Bay Area, and California. On July 2, 1965, the organization officially became the East Bay Negro Historical Society (EBNHS). As their efforts continued, the founders needed to find a larger space for the growing collection. In 1970, the EBNHS moved to a storefront located at 3651 Grove Street.

In 1976, it moved to 4519 Grove, where it operated a museum and library. In 1982, the EBNHS was invited into the Golden Gate Branch of the Oakland Public Library, making it the first Oakland city library with a predominantly African American focused collection. The assistance of Mayor Lionel Wilson, Assemblyman Elihu Harris, and other helped the organization establish a solid foundation in their new home. Following the appointment of Dr. Lawrence Crouchett as its executive director in 1988, the organization changed its name to the Northern California Center for Afro-American History & Life (NCCAAHL).

In 1994, the City of Oakland and the NCCAAHL merged to create the African American Museum & Library at Oakland (AAMLO). This unique public/private partnership entered a historic juncture with the opening of AAMLO in February 2002. Located at 659 14th Street, AAMLO is housed in the former Charles S. Greene library, an historic 1902 Carnegie building.

A special thank you to Jeff Norman for providing valuable information on the history of the East Bay Negro Historical Society.

Library Collections and Services

Check out AAMLO Digital Underground, a collection of titles from the African American Museum and Library you can read on the go curated by Donielle Woods. Use your OPL card to access this collection. To sign up for a library card, please complete an online application. For questions about your account or to reach an OPL reference librarian, please email or call 510-238-3134. 

Study Guides

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) hosts public programs focusing on topics of interest to the communities we serve. These educational offerings cover subjects such as gardening, mass incarceration, and the Black Panther Party, just to name a few. To encourage further inquiry, AAMLO provides study guides. Each offers a list of resources from our library and archives.

Click here for the study guides.

Upcoming Events