In 1974, F. Gerald Ham cautioned that contemporary diversity efforts were provisional as they emphasized a narrow research focus and failed to incorporate the unexplored history of underrepresented groups. Since that time, there has been a comparative increase in the diversity of collections and the profession as a whole; however, our archival approaches to diversity continue to be uneven because archivists still have not analyzed the historiography of ethnic archives, including those in the African American community. This article examines the developmental history of African American archives, including segregated collection objectives and internalized social hierarchies, and considers the impact of these variables on broader diversity initiatives of the archival profession.

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