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Charles Blockson

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Information about Charles Blockson

Profile image of Charles Blockson

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
African Diaspora Historian
Curator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Gray
Favorite Food:
Soul Food, Pie (Sweet Potato)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean, Paris, France, Africa
Favorite Quote:
The Hand That Holds The Quill, Pen, or Pencil Controls History.

Birthplace

Born:
12/16/1933
Birth Location:
Norristown, Pennsylvania

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
African Diaspora Historian
Curator

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue, Gray
Favorite Food:
Soul Food, Pie (Sweet Potato)
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean, Paris, France, Africa
Favorite Quote:
The Hand That Holds The Quill, Pen, or Pencil Controls History.

Birthplace

Born:
12/16/1933
Birth Location:
Norristown
See how Charles Blockson is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Black studies scholar and author Charles L. Blockson was born on December 16, 1933 in Norristown, Pennsylvania. A book lover as a young boy, the son of Annie Parker and Charles E. Blockson, has amassed one of the world's largest private collections of African American history.

Blockson graduated from Penn State University in 1956, where he played fullback on a football team that included football greats Lenny Moore and Roosevelt Grier. He turned down an offer to play professional football for the New York Giants. Blockson was a member of the U. S. Army from 1957-1958. A natural historian, Blockson taught local and multicultural history while serving as a human relations advisor for the Norristown Area School District. He held seminars and workshops for teachers and other school district employees. Blockson traveled extensively around the world, acquiring rare African, African American and African Caribbean publications dating back to the sixteenth century in addition to other materials. In 1984, Blockson donated these amazing items to Temple University, where he serves as curator of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection. It includes prints, photographs, slave narratives, manuscripts, letters and sheet music as well as other objects. For example, within the Collection are first edition works by Phyllis Wheatley and W.E.B. DuBois; African Bibles; correspondence of Haitian Revolutionaries; Paul Robeson's sheet music; narratives by Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass; thousands of taped interviews and radio programs on African and African American history and culture; and over 500,000 photographs.

Blockson lectures internationally and organizes exhibitions and black studies programs throughout the country. He has served as director of the Pennsylvania Black History Committee, director of the Pennsylvania Afro-American History Board and governor's commissioner of the Governor's Heritage Program. Blockson has been a member of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the NAACP, the Pennsylvania State University Alumni Council, the Urban League and the American Antiquarian Society. For his football exploits, the Pennsylvania State Quarterback Club honored him in 1984. Blockson is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Before Columbus Foundation and multiple honorary doctorates. He is considered one of the country's leading experts on the Underground Railroad.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Blockson's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Blockson lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Blockson shares his parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Blockson describes his interest in collecting African American historical records
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Blockson talks about tracing his genealogy
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Blockson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of Norristown, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Blockson describes his personality as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Blockson talks about his favorite school teachers
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Blockson talks about his interest in reading
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Blockson describes his life's purpose
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Blockson talks about attending Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Blockson describes the highlights of his athletic career at Penn State University
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Blockson talks about running a janitorial business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Blockson talks about visiting Lewis Michaux's bookstore
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Blockson remembers meeting Malcolm X and Langston Hughes
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Blockson describes Joel A. Rogers
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Blockson talks about black bibliophiles
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Blockson describes working with the Norristown, Pennsylvania School District
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Blockson narrates his photographs, pt.1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Blockson narrates his photographs, pt.2
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Blockson talks about working for the Norristown School District
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Blockson talks about his book, "Pennsylvania's Black History"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Blockson describes his research on the Underground Railroad
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Blockson shares his family's connection to the Underground Railroad
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Blockson describes chairing the National Park Service Underground Railroad Advisory Committee
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Blockson talks about the commercialization of the Underground Railroad
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Charles Blockson talks about tourism and historical preservation
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Charles Blockson describes the importance of collecting books
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Blockson talks about a rare book bound in the skin of a black person
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Blockson describes the ecstasy and agony of book collecting
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Charles Blockson talks about the Charles L. Blockson collection at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Charles Blockson reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Charles Blockson describes how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Charles Blockson talks about his parents' views on his success
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Charles Blockson reflects upon not pursuing his athletic career