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Sojourner Truth Room

The Sojourner Truth Room is located at the Oxon Hill Branch
The materials are for use only in the Sojourner Truth Room. A library card or other identification is necessary for the use of some materials. 
Copies of selected materials are also in the library's circulating collection. A scanner and photocopy machine are available.

6200 Oxon Hill Road
Oxon Hill, MD 20745
Tel:  301-839-2400
TTY: 301-808-2061

Monday 10am-9pm

Tuesday 10am-9pm

Wednesday 10am-9pm 

Thursday 10am-6pm

Friday 10am-6pm 

Saturday 10am-5pm 

Sunday 1pm-5pm 

About Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was named Isabella Baumfree when she was born around 1797 in Ulster County, New York. With her parents, she was held in slavery and prevented from receiving an education. Before the age of thirty, she had served three masters, married, and had five children. In 1827, she escaped from her abusive master. The following year, she became free under the New York Anti-Slavery Act.

In 1843, she experienced a call from God to preach. Because she did not want to carry anything from her life of slavery into her life as a free woman, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth - Sojourner because she was going to travel throughout the country, and Truth because she was going to declare truth to the people.

Working in the abolitionist and women's rights movements, her imposing stature, commanding personality, and captivating speaking style made her a popular speaker and one of the best known women of her time. Her speech at the Akron, Ohio, Women's Rights Convention in 1851, in the version known as "Ain't I a Woman", is one of her most influential speeches. She supported herself by publishing her autobiography, The Narrative of Sojourner Truth, which she dictated to her friend, Olive Gilbert.

After the Civil War, Sojourner Truth traveled to Washington, D. C., where she worked to improve living conditions for African Americans, and to integrate the city's streetcars. She also attempted to persuade the government to set aside land in Kansas and Missouri for freedmen.

In 1875, she retired to her home in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she died on November 26, 1883.

One of the most important women of the nineteenth century, Sojourner Truth remains a powerful symbol of the struggle for the rights of African Americans and women. In 1981, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame. In 2009, she was memorialized with a statue in the U.S. Capitol.

African American Research Collection

The Oxon Hill Branch of the Prince George's County Memorial Library System was built on the site of the Sojourner Truth Elementary School in 1967, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement. In response to the Civil Rights era's growing request for African American research materials, the Oxon Hill Branch Library's special collection was created. It focuses on African American history and culture. Named for Sojourner Truth, the collection continues to honor one of this country's truly remarkable women and has become an outstanding regional resource.

This comprehensive collection of reference materials on African American history and culture includes over 18,000 cataloged items (many are rare or out-of-print), periodicals, sheet music by African American composers, photographs and posters. The pamphlet file contains pamphlets, clippings and other reference sources. The collection is for use in the Sojourner Truth Room but copies of selected materials are also in the library's circulating collection. Information is available from microfilm and hard copy editions of an extensive set of current and historical periodicals, including the NAACP's Crisis (1910), the Journal of Negro History (1916) and Ebony Magazine (1945).

The collection includes editions of some slave narratives and the thirty-one volume Writer's Project series. Other topics are antislavery and slavery tracts, literary criticism, and the history of African Americans in Maryland and Prince George's County.

The books in the Sojourner Truth Room appear in the library catalog. A separate index of biographies, short stories, plays and literary criticism in the collection is available in the Sojourner Truth Room.


Collection Highlights

Digital Resources

  • All Digital Resources with an emphasis on African American history and culture
  • African American Heritage (ProQuest) ProQuest® African American Heritage is a groundbreaking digital resource exclusively devoted to African American family history research. This collection was created in partnership with leading African American genealogists and recognized leaders in genealogical information to develop a comprehensive mix of resources, records, and tools specifically pertaining to African Americans. ProQuest African American Heritage connects individuals to a community of research experts.

Databases on CD-ROM (available only in the Sojourner Truth Room)

  •  African Americans in Cinema 
  • The Freedman's Bank Records 
  • The Harvard Guide to African American History 
  • Heritage Book Archives: An Index to the Signature of Deposit for the Freedman's Savings and Loan Bank, 1865-1869 for the State of Mississippi 
  • Indiana African Heritage 
  • People of Color: Black Genealogical Records and Abstracts from Missouri Sources 

The Sojourner Truth Room contains over 18,000 books on all aspects of African American history and culture, including literature, art, music, sociology, religion and biography. Highlights include:

  • 42 volume collection of slave narratives, collected by the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA 
  • 30 volume Schomburg Library of Nineteenth Century Black Women Writers 
  • reprinted volumes of the papers of Marcus Garvey and Booker T. Washington 
  • first editions and other rare books by African American authors, including works by Harlem Renaissance writers 

The Sojourner Truth Room subscribes to a wide range of popular and scholarly magazines and journals, and maintains complete backfiles of many periodicals, including Ebony, Jet, Crisis, and the Journal of Negro History.

Pamphlet Files
Arranged by subject, the files contain articles from newspapers and magazines, pamphlets, and other ephemera.
A separate photograph file features prominent individuals from the 1970's to the present.

Biography & Literature Index
An extensive card index provides name access to the biographical information found in books in the collection and the pamphlet file. A separate index provides access to the short stories, speeches and plays in the collection.