In 1921, a white mob attacked residents, homes, and businesses in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a highly segregated city and state, some 10,000 African Americans had created a thriving community often referred to as “Black Wall Street.” Historians estimate that as many as 300 people were killed over 18 hours from the night of May 31 through June 1. Property damage amounted to more than $1.5 million in real estate and $750,000 in personal property (equivalent to more than $33 million in 2021): 1,256 houses were burned; 215 others were looted; two newspapers, a school, a library, a hospital, churches, hotels, stores and other Black-owned businesses were destroyed or damaged by fire.
As part of its effort to document the history of the North American West and the history and culture of African Americans throughout the United States, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library collects, preserves, and makes available books, pamphlets, manuscripts and visual materials that document not only the Tulsa Race Massacre, but the complex story of Oklahoma’s history as a homeland to Indigenous communities as well as people who migrated there by compulsion and by choice. Here we highlight resources that illuminate the Tulsa Massacre. We invite you to explore our catalogs and digital collections to learn more.