Cheryl D. Miller and the collection of her work at Stanford University Libraries is the inspiration for this initiative to build collections that support research on the history of Black graphic design. We are starting with a cohort of about 40 graphic designers and artists who are luminaries in the field. Their stories are diverse and many are also advocates for diversity and inclusion in the industry and education. At some point in their careers they have crossed paths, as mentors, collaborators and colleagues within their professional organizations. These artists are multigenerational and include BIPOC artists who are in all different phases of their careers.
Stanford University Libraries is pleased to be a part of this initiative and is committed to the long term archiving and preservation of these collections as they arrive and are processed for research. This is a work in progress.
These library guide pages will feature those designers and artists who have finalized their commitments and have started to send in the research materials, be it digital or physical or both. Please know that for this initial cohort of artists, who are participating, they will be announced here and in our library blog posts, as they arrive. Much of what you will find in this guide are initial samples to give you a sense of what might be found in the collections as a whole.
*Please note: Collections will be closed to research UNTIL they are fully processed by the Special Collections Processing Department. If you have questions collections or access to the collections please contact Regina Roberts or Ben Stone.
In June 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and the collective grief and reckoning over the continued anti-Black violence in the United State, Cheryl Miller asked herself what she could do to uplift Black voices. She came up with an idea that is not new for her, but timely. Miller had already gifted her collection of research, studio art, biographical information and her advocacy work documentation to Stanford Libraries in 2018. Her papers is one of the cornerstone collections of this initiative.
Cheryl was motivated by current day calls for more historical records that amplify and recognize the history of other Black designers and BIPOC artists, educators and advocates in the field. So she reached out to her network and the Stanford Libraries to begin a broader collection initiative and effort to document and preserve the history of Black Graphic Design in North America.
Thus, began the Black Graphic Design History Collections Initiative at Stanford University Libraries. Thanks to the enthusiastic engagement of an initial cohort of Cheryl D. Miller’s network of mentors, mentees and colleagues, Stanford Libraries are bringing in important research collections that highlight the brilliant work of Black Artists and Graphic Designers who not only create impactful art, but who have also been a part of teaching, mentoring and advocating for equity in the arts for decades.
Over the past year, Stanford librarians have been collaborating with Cheryl D. Miller to contact her professional network of BIPOC luminaries in the field of Graphic Design. We have identified and been communicating with this cohort of graphic designers who have agreed to participate in this work. Collections have started to come into Stanford Libraries’ Special Collections.
To quote Miller at one our our group introductory online video meetings, she said:
"I'm 50 years on this journey of wanting to be a designer, and being a graphic designer and being a voice for advocacy for designers and specifically Back graphic designers." ....[In thinking about being in the archives alone and remembering her journey, she said to her colleagues]....And many of you that know one another, we each know THAT something within the course of this modernists expression of an industry that sought to keep us out. We know that we exist....I want you to be remembered. I want you to be with me in a database. I don't like being the only one here at Stanford, all by myself." (Miller, Oct. 2020)
Miller's statement is a statement of solidarity and acknowledgement that these Black artists have stories to tell and bringing their work together is an excellent way to document the multiple histories, the livelihoods, lived-experiences, and responsible design work that many of these artists pioneered.
This initiative aligns firmly with the collection development values at Stanford University Libraries' Special Collections. When Cheryl D. Miller gifted the collection of her work in 2018, we were thrilled to have her work included as part of our research collections portfolio, which includes social justice activists, leaders, allies and creatives like Marlon Riggs, Ester Hernandez, Cherríe Moraga, Faviana Rodriguez, Huey Newton, Bob Fitch, Ruth Asawa and others who have advocated for equity, recognition and the rights of Black, Indigenous and People of Color. We are further energized by the broadening of our depth of coverage of graphic design communications and potential for research that these new collections represent.
This library guide pages has been created to highlight and track the progress of this initiative. Check back often for updates and additions to our Black Graphic Design History Collections as we move forward.
To document and celebrate the contributions of Black Graphic Artists to the field of Graphic Design and Graphic Communications.
To make Stanford University Libraries a research destination for the study of the work of notable Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) Graphic Artists and Activists.
To create a community that is multigenerational at its core & to foster the creative exchange of perspectives and approaches to design. Whenever possible, to make collections open and available online for researchers around the world.
Inspire future generations of artists & graphic designers.
To be a resource for Stanford students and faculty as well as Stanford’s Institute for the Diversity in the Arts (IDA), African American Studies Program, and the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE).
Who do I contact if I have question about the collections?
How can I help support this initiative?
When will the collection be open for research?