The E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts was established in 1943 when original materials were presented to the Detroit Public Library by the Detroit Musicians Association to serve as the nucleus for a special black music collection. The first of its kind in the world, the Hackley Collection, named after a Detroit music educator and performer, quickly broadened its scope to include dance, drama and other forms of the performing arts.
Many rare books, manuscripts and archives of performing artists are available to serious researchers. The archives include materials on organizations such as the Motown Recording Company, the National Association of Negro Musicians, on dancers Rael Lamb and Lavinia Williams, singer Roland Hayes and many other concert and opera singers.
The Photographic and Print Collection contains items dating from the mid-19th century to the present, including portraits of performers, organizations, vocal and instrumental groups and still photographs from black films and stage productions. Among the many rare items in the collection are an original photograph of the Fisk Jubilee Singers and a large collection of photographs by Carl van Vechten of prominent Black performers.
Digital reproductions of items in the Hackley Collection may be purchased by completing the Special Collections Reproduction Order Form . Customers are not permitted to use personal cameras or scanners to reproduce photographs or postcards.
The Recorded Sound Collection contains music either performed or composed by Black musicians. Documenting the development of Black music, recordings include African chant, Negro spirituals, ragtime, jazz, gospel, opera, orchestral music, soul and rhythm & blues. Hundreds of examples of "popular music," produced in the middle to late 19th century and based on Negro themes, are similarly preserved in the Sheet Music Collection, along with contemporary "popular music" composed and performed by Black musicians.
This website is an online database of sheet music from the collection published between 1799 and 1922. Song themes cover early 19th century plantation life in the American South, the Civil War period, and the stereotypical themes associated with black face minstrelsy. Songs of the period composed by African American musicians are included.
On June 11, 2005, the Hackley Collection announced the creation of the Detroit Electronic Music Archive. DEMA will document, collection, preserve, and disseminate information about Electronic Music, a music form birthed in the city of Detroit by Detroit musicians.
Friends of E. Azalia Hackley Collection (FAH)
The Friends of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection (FAH) is committed to increasing awareness and financial resources for the Hackley Collection. FAH supports the Collection through membership and advocacy. Members of FAH form a network of friends that supports and enhances the collection development process.
Under the umbrella of the Friends of Detroit Public Library Foundation , FAH members receive the benefits of both parent and subsidiary organizations. Those benefits include, among others, invitations to pre-sales and pre-exhibit opening events, special invitations to author lecture/signings, private receptions with performing artists, reserved seating for Hackley concerts, and more.
- E. Azalia Hackley Collection 
- Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History 
- National Association of Negro Musicians 
- National Museum of African American History and Culture 
- Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 
E. Azalia Hackley Collection
Detroit Public Library
5201 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202