John Ramos Collection

All Kansas City Public Library locations will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 26, and will remain closed all day Thursday, November 27, for Thanksgiving.

John Ramos Collection in the Missouri Valley Room

Lincoln High School Cadet Band and Orchestra, 1917
Lincoln High School Cadet
Band and Orchestra, 1917

In 1926, W. R. Howell, a history teacher at Lincoln High School, and Priscilla Burd, the Kansas City Public Library, Lincoln Branch librarian, began to assemble a comprehensive collection of material about and by African Americans. When the Lincoln Branch Library closed in 1971, the collection moved to the Main Library and at that time was officially designated the John Ramos Collection in honor of Dr. John Ramos, Jr., who was the first African American elected to serve on the Kansas City Board of Education (1964).

Dr. John F. Ramos, Jr.
The African
American collection
was named after
Dr. John F. Ramos, Jr.

The collection includes important books, pamphlets, newspaper and magazine articles, and vertical file materials that relate to African American history and culture with a special emphasis on the Kansas City area. First edition books by such authors and poets as Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen and other artists from the Harlem Renaissance, as well as books on spirituals, jazz and blues music are part of the collection.

Of particular interest are autographs of notable African Americans worldwide that were gathered in 1937 by Miss Burd, the head librarian at the Lincoln Branch Library from 1926 to 1941. She apparently planned to use them in a display that year. Additional autographs, including a Langston Hughes manuscript, were later incorporated into the Ramos Collection, a gift from Thomas Webster, former Executive Director of the Urban League.

Books in this collection are included in the Library’s catalog with the identifier "Ramos." Vertical files, designated as the Ramos Lincoln Collection, are indexed in the Local History Index. Additionally, a list of Ramos files is also online in the Index.

Related Guides

Other Resources in the Missouri Valley Room

A sampling of African American resources in the Missouri Valley Room not found in the Library’s online catalog or the Local History Index

Resources on the Internet

A guide to African American history websites