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Louisville libraries offer free online access to historical Black newspapers

Steep-angle view of the Main Library's entrance from street level. The light-beige stone building with columns is backed by a deep blue sky.
Jacob Munoz
/
LPM
Anyone with a library card can access archives of the Louisville Defender for free.

A Louisville Free Public Library resource aims to increase access to historical Black newspaper archives.

The Louisville Defender is a Black publication founded in the 1930s. It’s covered issues like segregation, police violence and the civil rights movement. It also provided information like lists of integrated public places and equal job opportunities. The newspaper is still in circulation today.

Until recently, people could only access some clippings of the paper by physically going to the library. Natalie Woods, manager of LFPL’s Western Branch, said a new online resource changes that.

“Not everybody has the ability to go to the Main Library’s Kentucky History Room to look through the microfiche. But they, with their library card, can do that from home. So it's making everything more accessible,” Woods said.

Now, through the library’s website, people can browse archived issues of the Defender published from 1951 to 2010.

“It's beneficial on multiple levels for anyone wanting to access any kind of information that would have been featured in the Louisville Defender over the years,” Woods said.

The digital database also features archival prints of several Black newspapers from across the country, including the Cleveland Call and Post, the Atlanta Daily World and the Baltimore Afro-American.